VP Mike Pence makes campaign stop in Duluth, Minnesota

In his first campaign trip after the Republican National Convention, Vice President Mike Pence repeatedly knocked Democratic rival Joe Biden and appealed to a surprise constituency here in Minnesota: Democratic voters.

“The road to victory starts here in Duluth, Minnesota and we’re going to win this state,” Pence said.

Standing in front of giant banners that screamed “JOBS!” the vice president said the Trump administration had built the strongest economy ever. In St. Louis county, where he spoke, the unemployment rate is double what it had been in March, hit like the rest of the country by the coronavirus pandemic.

A Republican presidential candidate has not won Minnesota in a half-century, but the race is seen as tightening. Pence mocked Biden, for not campaigning in Minnesota yet.

“I was told on the way here, that might be why Joe Biden hasn’t been back in Minnesota for 1,000 days,” Pence said to laughter.

Pence's trip was an extension of the GOP convention, where law and order was the theme.

“I don’t have to tell you people in Minnesota, there’s no excuse what happened to George Floyd in Minneapolis and justice will be served,” Pence said, to soft clapping.

“But there’s also no excuse for the rioting and looting that has followed,” the vice president said, to louder applause.

Friday, six northern Minnesota mayors endorsed President Trump's re-election. One of them, the mayor of Virginia, said the Democratic Party’s environmental record has grown out of step with the Iron Range.

“We didn’t choose to leave the party,” Mayor Larry Cuffe said. “The party left us.”

The Democratic mayor of Duluth, Emily Larson, responded to the event by saying the Trump administration has failed to lead.

“The Trump administration is one of chaos,” Larson said. “They breed it, they incite it, they create it on purpose.”

On Thursday, Biden said he would hold in-person campaign events both in Minnesota and Wisconsin sometime after Labor Day, in accordance with each state’s guidelines on public gatherings.