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At indoor rally, Pence says election runs through Wisconsin

At indoor rally, Pence says election runs through Wisconsin
© Getty Images

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 TrumpLil Wayne gets 11th hour Trump pardon Trump grants clemency to more than 100 people, including Bannon Trump expected to pardon Bannon: reports 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 EversEight governors call on feds to immediately send out vaccine doses now in reserve Marquette men's basketball team wears black uniforms to protest Jacob Blake decision Wisconsin governor slams decision to not charge officers in Jacob Blake shooting MORE (D) issued a statewide mask mandate that went into effect last month.

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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 SisolakSouth Carolina governor tests positive for COVID-19 after wife's diagnosis Nevada governor: 'Unconscionable' for Trump to suggest Reno's COVID-19 surge unit 'fake' House Democrat tests positive for COVID-19 day after her mother's death 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.

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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 BidenTrump grants clemency to more than 100 people, including Bannon Scalise bringing Donna Brazile as guest to Biden inauguration Sidney Powell withdraws 'kraken' lawsuit in Georgia 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 RyanRevising the pardon power — let the Speaker and Congress have voices Paul Ryan will attend Biden's inauguration COVID-19 relief bill: A promising first act for immigration reform 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 HarrisScalise bringing Donna Brazile as guest to Biden inauguration McConnell, Schumer fail to cut power-sharing deal amid filibuster snag Howard University's marching band to escort Harris at inauguration 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.