Vice President Mike Pence says unity for GOP will help 'red wave' come through Michigan
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. —
The United State Vice President appeared in Grand Rapids on Wednesday evening to speak at the Michigan Republican Party’s Unity Rally following the Tuesday primary election.
Michigan Republican Communications Director Sarah Anderson said following the Presidential election in 2016, the party invited both President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence to visit the state.
“I believe we hold a special place in the hearts of the President and Vice President,” Anderson said. “So, [Pence] was very happy to accept our invitation.”
Once on stage, Pence said it’s important to come together as one party and congratulated those candidates who lost their respective races.
“It’s a sign of a strong party to have competitive primary races,” he said.
Pence turned his unity speech into more of a campaign speech for Trump; Pence touted Trump administration plans to rebuild the military, create jobs and to stand with law enforcement at “every level.”
Pence talked about how important the midterm elections are, but said historically, it's tough for the party sitting in office. He said Trump believes that the Republican Party nationwide will surprise everyone, since “no one thought we would win in 2016, according to conventional wisdom."
“I think you all know what President Donald Trump thinks of conventional wisdom,” Pence said with a chuckle.
Fresh off their election night wins, Bill Schuette and John James were in attendance and spoke at the event.
Schuette beat Brian Calley, Patrick Colbeck and Jim Hines earning more than 50 percent of the votes.
The current Michigan Attorney General said he is proud of the work his campaign has done thus far, but is ready to take on Gretchen Whitmer in November.
“Gretchen is one of the most liberal members of the Michigan legislature,” Schuette said. “If you thought Jennifer Granholm was bad, Gretchen Whitmer is worse.”
Schuette added it’s important to look ahead and help make sure the state Republican candidates win their races.
“In 89 days, when the dust settles we are going to win in courthouses, we are going to win in the state house, the Republicans are going to drive the bus in the Michigan legislature,” Schuette said.
John James will take on Democratic U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow in November. James beat his opponent, Sandy Pensler, Tuesday night earning 55 percent of Michigan voters.
The businessman and combat veteran stepped up to the podium and said he is honored to be the parties pick to take on long-time Senator Stabenow. He talked about his experience and his commitment to working with the President.
“We need to make sure that we come together and unify together; defend our borders, protect our jobs,” James said. “I’m somebody who has the experience in the real world leading men and women in combat.”
Both Schuette and James were endorsed by President Trump in their respective races. Anderson believes that was a big help for both candidates and the rally was aimed at bringing the party together after an ‘intense’ primary campaign and look ahead.
“We’re hoping that this is an opportunity for everybody to come together and know that no matter if it’s their guy on the stage or not, that it’s most importantly to go out and vote for a Republican in November,” she added.
Kent County Republican Chair Donijo DeJonge also said a few words, welcoming the crowd to the rally and encouraged everyone to put the primary in the past.
“You voted for your candidate and I voted for my candidate; they were probably different, or maybe the same. But today we unite,” she said.
After a few jokes poking fun at Hillary Clinton and the unemployment rate, DeJonge said it’s up to voters to continue the momentum from primary night.
“Build a dam, stop the [blue] wave and make sure Bill Schuette is our next governor,” DeJonge said.
Notably absent from the rally Wednesday was Republican Governor Rick Snyder. When Schuette was asked how he felt about not getting Snyder’s endorsement yet, he said it’s still early.
“I’m not worried, the election wasn’t even 24 hours ago,” Schuette said.
After the rally, Schuette said he had picked his running mate for this gubernatorial race, but didn’t’ release "her" name; indicating there will be a woman on the ballot with him in November.