DURYEA, Pa. (AP) — Vice President Mike Pence headed to the presidential battleground of Pennsylvania on Monday to tout a pending trade agreement with Mexico and Canada, and in the process sparred with Joe Biden over the Trump administration’s record on trade.
Pence visited a high-tech glass maker near Scranton, where the Republican called on Democrats in Congress to allow a vote on the proposed U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. He cast the agreement as a boon for manufacturing.
“These days, Democrats are spending all their time on endless investigations and partisan impeachment. But the American people deserve better, and I came to Pennsylvania to say it’s time for the Democrats in Congress to put Pennsylvania first,” Pence said.
President Donald Trump was the first Republican presidential candidate since 1988 to win Pennsylvania, and the state is important to his re-election campaign. Trump will be in Pittsburgh on Wednesday to deliver remarks at an annual natural gas industry conference.
Ahead of Pence’s speech, Biden said in a statement that “Pennsylvanians will not be fooled by Pence’s blind promotion of Trump’s irresponsible trade wars.”
The Democratic presidential candidate, who grew up in Scranton and will campaign there Tuesday and Wednesday, said Pence “refuses to stand up for the hard-working people that built this country.”
Speaking to workers at the Schott specialty glass plant in Luzerne County, Pence read a portion of Biden’s statement and, addressing Biden directly, retorted that it’s “time you got on board” with the new trade deal. He also said Biden, as vice president under President Barack Obama, presided over the loss of tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs in the state.
Trump’s 2016 campaign pledge to bring back manufacturing jobs appealed to working-class voters in Luzerne County, where he won by 20 points over Hillary Clinton even though Democrats outnumber Republicans.