Mike Pence touts jobs, economy during Florida visit
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Vice President Mike Pence swept into vote-Rich Florida on Friday, touting a message of economic prosperity that the Trump reelection campaign hopes will resonate among the country’s blue-collar workers.
During two stops in Jacksonville, the vice president credited the Trump administration’s economic agenda for rising wages and the continuing decline in the country’s unemployment rate.
The visits were clearly aimed at wooing blue-collar workers. In their remarks, Pence and senior White House adviser Ivanka Trump, who traveled with the vice president to Florida, focused on growing vocational programs and apprenticeships as paths for prosperity for the millions of Americans who do not opt for college degrees.
“From the first day of this administration, President Trump promised the American people that we were going to hire and grow America, that we were going to raise wages for American workers and help rebuild this nation’s economy,” Pence said in a cavernous warehouse at the Jacksonville headquarters of Miller Electric Co.
The firm is one of 300 companies and organizations that have signed its “Pledge to America’s Workers,” one of the administration’s jobs initiatives.
Earlier, Pence met with former felons at Operation New Hope, a Jacksonville nonprofit that helps ex-convicts rebuild their lives by helping them find jobs and readjust to society.
One of them, Daniel McArthur, said he was grateful for getting the help to turn his life around, including finding a place to live and an employer that would hire him despite his criminal record.
“When you incentivize things, people are a lot more prone to jump towards them,” he said.
In Florida, African Americans account for nearly half of the 96,000 people now locked up in Florida prisons, according to the Department of Corrections, with many thousands more held in local jails, while making up just 17% of the state’s 21.3 million residents.
“Our administration is committed to law and order, and we support law enforcement,” Pence said, adding that he and the president also believe that “once you’ve done your time, to get a second chance.”
According to the Florida Department of Corrections, one in four former convicts return to prison within three years of their release. With the help of its Ready4Work program, Operation New Hope says, recidivism among its graduates is 8%.
As President Trump seeks a second term, his campaign is betting that more jobs and a stronger economy will help his chances — particularly in a state like Florida, which most analysts say is a must-win for Trump to remain in the White House. Pence’s visit was clearly meant to tout how Trump’s economic initiatives are benefiting ordinary Americans.
“Since Election Day 2016, businesses large and small have literally created 6 million new jobs, including nearly 510,000 new jobs right here in Florida,” Pence said during his visit to the electrical firm.
Unsaid by the vice president was that the economic upturn began under the previous administration.
Pence was also accompanied by Gov. Ron DeSantis, who said his administration was continuing to work on strengthening the state’s vocational and apprenticeship programs.
“You do need skills beyond high school to succeed,” DeSantis said, “but a four-year brick-and-ivy university is not the only way to get it and may not even be the best way for many people.”