The Trump campaign is making a late bid to win Wisconsin again, with President Donald Trump expected in Janesville Saturday evening, and Vice President Mike Pence having visited Waukesha Tuesday.
Polls show Trump trailing Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden, by about five percentage points. But the Republican contenders' strategy to erase that lead apparently includes energizing religious conservatives. In Waukesha, Pence put the spotlight on Trump's current Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, a Catholic.
Three years ago, during an Appeals Court confirmation hearing, California Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein told Barrett, "The dogma lives loudly within you."
Tuesday, Pence referred that remark: "Well, I got news for the Democrats and their friends in Hollywood — that dogma lives loudly in me! That dogma lives loudly in you! And the right to live and work and worship according to the dictates of our faith lives loudly in the Constitution of the United States of America!,” Pence exclaimed to cheers from the crowd.
During this week's Senate confirmation hearing, Feinstein has not referred to Barrett's faith, but the veteran lawmaker and others have repeatedly tried to get the nominee to answer questions about abortion. Barrett said Tuesday that the Roe v. Wade decision is not a case that everyone has accepted.
In Waukesha, the vice president was also hitting hard on the law and order theme that the Trump campaign has been mentioning all summer and fall. Pence said this is not the time to be cutting police budgets, mentioning a proposal in Milwaukee.
"I mean, it's not a surprise Milwaukee has literally seen a 110% increase in homicides this year. All while Milwaukee's Democrat mayor has called for cutting 120 police officers from his 20-21 budget,” Pence said.
Mayor Tom Barrett's office did not respond to our request for comment. The mayor told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Pence's remark was a cheap shot and repeated what Barrett told WUWM in September that Republican critics of his police proposal should try to get the GOP-controlled state Legislature to supply more shared revenue to Milwaukee.
State Democats had other advice for Pence. During a web news conference Tuesday morning, State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski lamented the lack of another federal stimulus bill to help small businesses hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Now it's been over five months since the Paycheck Protection Program was launched, and over 80% of businesses that got those funds are now through them. And this White House still refuses to work across the aisle to help our mom and pop businesses,” she said.
The White House and Republicans controlling the U.S. Senate also appear to disagree on some details. It's unclear what will happen in the three weeks Trump has remaining to win Wisconsin, which many pollsters now say leans Democratic in the presidential race.