JANESVILLE, Wis. — Vice President Pence on Monday made his second visit to Wisconsin in as many weeks, declaring the road to a second term runs through the Badger State with just 50 days until Election Day.
The vice president rallied hundreds of supporters at an event inside a Holiday Inn conference room here a day after President TrumpDonald John TrumpCrowd aims ‘lock him up’ chant at Obama during Trump rally Nevada governor: Trump ‘taking reckless and selfish actions’ in holding rally Michigan lieutenant governor blasts Trump coronavirus response: He ‘is a liar who has killed people’ MORE drew backlash for hosting an even larger indoor rally in Nevada.
Attendees on Monday were spaced just a few feet apart, and most did not wear masks. Wisconsin does not have a hard cap on the size of gatherings amid the coronavirus pandemic, but Gov. Tony EversTony EversBiden seeks somber contrast to Trump in Kenosha Biden in Kenosha: Trump has ‘legitimized a dark side of human nature’ Kenosha business owner accuses Trump of using destroyed store for political gain MORE (D) issued a statewide mask mandate that went into effect last month.
The rally setting reflects how the White House has largely ignored the Trump administration’s own guidance on measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 when it comes to the campaign trail.
Trump on Sunday night spoke to thousands of supporters inside a warehouse in Henderson, Nev., violating the city’s rules against indoor gatherings of more than 50 people.
“If the governor comes after you, which he shouldn’t be doing, I’ll be with you all the way,” Trump told rallygoers, shrugging off the restrictions.
Nevada Gov. Steve SisolakSteve SisolakNevada governor: Trump ‘taking reckless and selfish actions’ in holding rally Trump slams Nevada governor at rally, takes aim at mail-in voting Trump campaign to press ahead with Nevada events after venues pull out MORE (D) blasted the president’s “reckless and selfish actions” that he said put lives in danger.
“This is an insult to every Nevadan who has followed the directives, made sacrifices, and put their neighbors before themselves. It’s also a direct threat to all of the recent progress we’ve made, and could potentially set us back,” Sisolak wrote on Twitter.
Pence on Monday delivered a 40-minute campaign speech that hit the major themes of the campaign’s message. The vice president opened his remarks with an acknowledgement of the wildfires that have ravaged California and Hurricane Sally, which is due to make landfall along the Gulf Coast in the next 24 hours.
He pledged that the White House would stand strong with law enforcement and condemned recent violence in American cities; Pence touted the administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic that has killed roughly 195,000 people in the U.S.; and he portrayed Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenCrowd aims ‘lock him up’ chant at Obama during Trump rally Biden campaign plans to run ad during every NFL game until Election Day LA mayor condemns protesters shouting ‘death to police’ outside hospital treating ambushed officers MORE as a radical.
The Trump campaign has lavished attention on Wisconsin. Pence visited LaCrosse on Labor Day, and Trump held an airport rally in the state about a month ago. Trump is scheduled to hold another campaign event in Wisconsin on Friday.
“The road to victory runs right through Wisconsin,” Pence said to applause from supporters in former Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanPeterson faces fight of his career in deep-red Minnesota district Five things we learned from this year’s primaries Biden cannot keep letting Trump set the agenda MORE‘s (R) hometown.
Biden, by comparison, has faced pressure to put more time and resources into Wisconsin. He met with local leaders in Kenosha earlier this month in the aftermath of the police shooting of Jacob Blake, and his running mate, Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisBlack church leaders demand apology for Trump campaign ad Immigrants rights group endorses Biden-Harris ticket Does Kamala Harris’s music matter? MORE (D-Calif.), visited Milwaukee a few days later.
Trump carried Wisconsin by roughly 23,000 votes in 2016, but polls have shown him trailing Biden here for the past few months. A RealClearPolitics average of polls shows Biden with a roughly 6 percentage point lead, and a New York Times/Siena College poll released over the weekend showed Biden with a 5 point lead in Wisconsin.