Pence visits Michigan to boost GOP Senate candidate

Pence visits Michigan to boost GOP Senate candidate
© Greg Nash

Vice President Pence trekked to Michigan on Wednesday to drum up support for Republican Senate candidate John James in his effort to unseat incumbent Democratic Sen. Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowACLU calls on Congress to approve COVID-19 testing for immigrants Senators press IRS chief on stimulus check pitfalls Democrats warn Biden against releasing SCOTUS list MORE.

Pence praised James's leadership and vision during a fundraiser in Oakland County, emphasizing the need to elect more Republicans to the Senate to aid the Trump administration's agenda.

"He’s going to fight for Michigan, he’s going to fight for Michigan’s jobs and values every day. He’s going to stand with our administration's vision for growth. But your senator, Debbie Stabenow, has been standing in the way," Pence said.

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Pence recycled a refrain he's used to target other Democratic incumbents, telling the crowd that "Debbie voted no" on a GOP-crafted tax cut bill, legislation to defund sanctuary cities, legislation to defund Planned Parenthood and on Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch's nomination.

The bulk of Pence's remarks were dedicated to listing off accomplishments during President TrumpDonald John TrumpWhite House sued over lack of sign language interpreters at coronavirus briefings Wife blames Trump, lack of masks for husband's coronavirus death in obit: 'May Karma find you all' Trump authorizes reduced funding for National Guard coronavirus response through 2020 MORE's first year-and-a-half in office, including economic growth, military funding and the confirmation of various judges across the country.

"[The Democrats's] entire agenda is resist and obstruct," Pence asserted. "But we need John James and a larger Republican majority in the Senate because our motto is results and growth for the American people."

Michigan has not had a Republican U.S. senator since 2001, but Pence expressed optimism that would change in November, calling it "the state where the blue wall crumbled in 2016 and the red wave will begin in 2018."

Trump won the state in the 2016 election by roughly 10,000 votes.

James, a military veteran and business executive, earned Trump's endorsement and won the GOP primary earlier this month. If elected, the 37-year-old would become the second black Republican senator currently in Congress, joining Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottLobbyists see wins, losses in GOP coronavirus bill Revered civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis lies in state in the Capitol GOP plan would boost deduction for business meals MORE (R-S.C.).

James faces an uphill battle to unseat Stabenow. The Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan election forecaster, rates the race as "likely Democratic."

The RealClearPolitics polling index shows Stabenow, who has been in the Senate since 2001, with a 17-point lead over James.

An NBC News poll released in late July showed the incumbent leading James by a similar margin, though he had not yet secured the GOP nomination at that point.