Government

Mike Pence visit to Iowa sets off war of words between campaigns

Vice President Mike Pence greets Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, left, after arriving at the Des Moines International Airport be
Vice President Mike Pence greets Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, left, after arriving at the Des Moines International Airport before meeting with faith leaders and food industry executives in response to the coronavirus pandemic, Friday, May 8, 2020, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Vice President Mike Pence’s second visit to Iowa in fewer than six weeks has ignited a war of words between the campaigns of President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden.

Although Pence is making an official visit as vice president, the campaign of the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee said he is trying to rewrite the history of the Trump administration’s failed response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“No amount of damage control can cover up the simple truth that Donald Trump’s inability to prepare and forcefully respond to the coronavirus pandemic’ that has killed more than 650 Iowans, said Deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield. The Trump administration’s response to COVID-19 “is one of the most consequential failures of government in American history.”

The Trump campaign fired back. Rather than what Bedingfield called “damage control,” Pence’s visit “is yet another sign of the great American comeback,” according to Republican National Committee spokeswoman Prey Samsundar, adding the Biden “has repeatedly mislead the American people regarding his position on the coronavirus.”

Pence is flying into Mason City for a meeting with Reynolds at an undisclosed location. Then he will travel to Forest City where he will tour Winnebago Industries, which is best known as a manufacturer of recreational vehicles, according to the Office of the Vice President. While there, he will speak to employees. The events are not open to the public.

Samsundar said the Trump-Pence administration has provided “unwavering support” for small businesses and Iowa workers.

“With the passage of key legislation like the CARES Act and the Paycheck Protection Program, the Trump administration continues to reaffirm their commitment to guiding and protecting Iowa families through the coronavirus pandemic,” she said.

Rather than helping Iowa’s small businesses and more than 160,000 Iowans filing for unemployment, Trump “handed out money to campaign contributors, Bedingfield said.

Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Jeff Kaufmann welcomed Pence, saying that with the continued leadership of the Trump administration, “Iowa will come back stronger than ever before.”

“During this unprecedented global health crisis, it has been a comfort to know Iowa has true friends in the White House,” he said. Trump, Pence and Reynolds “have worked in tandem, making the health and safety of Iowans their number one priority.”

Pence visited Iowa May 8, meeting with religious leaders to discuss reopening their services and farm and agricultural industry representatives, who spoke to him about COVID-19 related problems in food processing plants.

His visit comes at a time when polling shows the president is running ahead of Biden, but his margin is well short of Trump’s nearly 10-percentage point win over Clinton in 2016.

Also, recent polling has shown Sen. Joni Ernst trailing her Democratic challenger, real estate executive Theresa Greenfield, although within the margin of error.

So the timing is no coincidence, according to Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Mark Smith.

“Days after Democrats had one of the most successful primary elections in our state’s history, Mike Pence is back in town to prop up the Trump administration’s failed coronavirus response to voters the GOP once deemed a solid lock,” said Smith, a state representative from Marshalltown.

Pence is scheduled to return to Washington this evening. Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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