Pence to speak to workers on Duluth visit Wednesday
DULUTH—Vice President Mike Pence will meet with employees at Industrial Weldors & Machinists in West Duluth for remarks to conclude Wednesday's four-hour visit to the city.
"Amazing," said Randy Abernethy, IWM president and owner. "We didn't know this until a couple of days ago."
Abernethy and GOP congressional candidate Pete Stauber will join Pence at IWM, a White House official said. IWM is a family-owned business started in 1952, located just off the 40th Avenue West exit from Interstate 35.
Pence's remarks are open to the media but closed to the public and follow the vice president's appearance at a fundraising engagement for Stauber at an undisclosed location in Duluth.
Pence is scheduled to land aboard Air Force Two at Monaco Air Duluth at 11 a.m. Stauber will greet Pence at the airport, a White House official said. Entry to the Stauber campaign event to start off the day isn't cheap — $1,000 to get in the door, said the invitation last week. It costs even more to get a photograph with Pence.
Stauber is the GOP-endorsed candidate in the race for the open seat in the 8th Congressional District. He faces a challenge from Duluth's Harry Welty in Tuesday's primary.
"We are very excited that the vice president of the United States has decided to return to Duluth to campaign for Pete," said spokesperson Caroline Tarwid, citing Pence's last campaign stop in Duluth — coming the day before the 2016 presidential election that swept the Trump-Pence ticket into the White House.
Pence will meet the IWM workers at 2 p.m., before departing from the Monaco terminal on his way to a stop in Grand Rapids, Mich., where the vice president will deliver a keynote address during an event for the state GOP there.
IWM's telltale pale green sheet-metal exterior disguises a massive interior machine shop. Inside, workers rebuild the crushers that grind up rock during the extraction of taconite iron ore on the Iron Range. About half the crew was diverted this week into efforts to prepare for the vice president's visit, Abernethy said.
On Tuesday, the fenced shop yard crawled with Secret Service agents and other agencies in preparation for the visit.
Pence will meet with workers to "discuss the positive impacts of President Trump's tax reform policies on Minnesota businesses, working Americans, and their families," the White House said.
"Our main industry is helping support the taconite industry," Abernethy said. "We do a lot of repair work for them."
A Trump supporter, Abernethy said he can vouch for the president's tax cuts and vigorous pursuit of tariffs on imports from around the world.
"When the mines are busy, we're busy," Abernethy said.
The Pence visit is another feather in the campaign cap for Stauber, who earned a President Trump campaign rally in June.
"This congressional race is the No. 1 pickup for Republicans in the entire nation, and it is evident by this upcoming visit," said Tarwid.