FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, August 14, 2020
What People Are Saying About Pence’s Tone-Deaf Campaign Photo-Op
Iowans criticized Pence for refusing to tour farmland, Main Streets, and family businesses devastated by the derecho
DES MOINES — Yesterday, the Iowa Democratic Party held a press call in response to Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to Iowa. As Iowans across the state were cleaning up from the devastating derecho storm, Pence opted out of touring part of the 10 million acres of damaged farmland to launch a campaign event on the same day the state surpassed 50,000 confirmed coronavirus cases. The call featured IDP Chair Mark Smith, Governor Tom Vilsack, LULAC Iowa State Director Nick Salazar, and family farmer Kevin Middleswart — and focused on the compounding economic impact of the Trump-Pence agriculture agenda and their completely ineffective response to the coronavirus in Iowa.
Here’s what Iowans are saying about Pence’s campaign photo-op Iowa visit:
WOI: “It’s important for the Vice President also to hear how the policies of this administration, the Trump Pence administration, have hurt Iowa farmers. Specifically the trade war and the war on ethanol.”
KGAN: “The Vice President met with some farmers before his event, but there were no official visits to places hit hardest to survey the damage which drew the ire of his critics like former Governor Tom Vilsack who criticized the Vice President’s visit, saying he shouldn’t be playing politics while the state is reeling from a disaster.”
KWWL: “Former Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge shared environmental concerns, and also saying the derecho struck farmers who were already struggling.”
In the news:
DMR: “The campaign stop was on what would have been the first day of the Iowa State Fair, if it hadn’t been canceled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. It was also the day Iowa surpassed 50,000 positive cases of the coronavirus, with 50,003 people having tested positive as of 6 a.m. Of those, 954 people have died.
“Iowa Democrats seized on those details to attack Pence and the Trump administration for what they described as a botched pandemic response. In a call with Iowa media, organized by the Iowa Democratic Party, former Gov. Tom Vilsack criticized Pence for hosting a campaign event while Iowans were still in the throes of the havoc wreaked by Monday’s derecho wind storm.
“‘There is a substantial amount of damaged corn within miles of the state fairgrounds,’ Vilsack said in a call about three hours before Pence landed in Iowa. ‘So, the Vice President ought to be focused more on the damage that was done by the storm and the damage has been done by the inappropriate reaction to the pandemic than he is celebrating this perceived support for farmers and ranchers in the state, at a time when they’re seeing bankruptcies going up, income coming down and exports evaporating.’”
Iowa Capital Dispatch: “Democrats, in advance of Pence’s remarks, criticized the Trump-Pence administration’s record on agriculture and its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Indianola farmer Kevin Middleswart said his family had personally felt the impact of the Trump administration’s renewable fuel policies. He said he was delivering grain to a local co-op on a day when one of the area ethanol plants closed unexpectedly.
“‘And we saw a 30-cent decline in the overnight bid that the co-op was able to pay the farmer – now that’s a 9% drop in a 24 hour period,’ he said. ‘You only have to look at my bank account and my tax return to see that, you know, I didn’t think 2020 could get any worse. But I expect that it will.’
“Middleswart and former U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, former Iowa governor, blamed the ethanol industry’s struggles on the EPA’s granting of waivers allowing petroleum producers to avoid blending ethanol at the levels previously required.
“‘Well, when it comes to Big Oil and farmers, it’s pretty clear this administration sides with Big Oil,’ Vilsack said. ‘I say that because of the waivers that have been granted that have decimated the capacity of our ethanol industry to continue to prosper.’
“Democrats also criticized Pence for appearing in Iowa at an event sponsored by the Heritage Foundation, which they portrayed as being pro-Big Oil and an opponent of the Renewable Fuel Standard.”
Bloomberg: “‘It’s unfortunate, given the fact that we had a phenomenal storm that has destroyed 10 million acres of Iowa cropland, that the vice president would spend his time on a campaign event instead of touring damaged areas,’ former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack, a Democrat, told reporters.”
Radio Iowa: “Iowa Democratic Party officials, including former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack, criticized Pence for not altering his campaign schedule to personally survey the damage from Monday’s storm.”