Ivanka Trump, President Trump’s daughter, campaigns in Alto, Oct. 19, 2020 | Alexis Stark
As the contentious 2020 presidential race winds down to its final days, West Michigan has become a battleground.
On Monday afternoon, Wildwood Family Farms in Alto welcomed Ivanka Trump. Vice President Mike Pence, Democratic nominee Joe Biden and former Democratic presidential contender Pete Buttigieg have all made recent stops in the Grand Rapids region. President Trump did a rally in Muskegon Saturday evening.
The Trump event, held in a question-and-answer format, featured a discussion between President Donald Trump’s daughter and Mercedes Schlapp, senior adviser to the Trump campaign.
Grandville resident Denise Kolesar, after hearing about issues she’s been considering as she plans to cast her ballot, felt confident in her decision to support Donald Trump.
“The economy and safety,” Kolesar cited as reasons for supporting Trump. “People want to get back to work and businesses want to fully open and be able to do it safely. Our country dealing with the pandemic is something new and I think we’ve done a great job.”
Kolesar added that she “determines her vote on which candidate is working for her and people like her.
“This president is passionate and he can do what he sets out to do,” Koelsar added. “A working America is a strong America.”
When discussing the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on working-class Americans, Ivanka Trump commended her father’s efforts to build a strong economy during his three and a half years in office.
“Small businesses are the backbone of this country, the heart and soul of our communities,” Trump said. “Programs such as the Paycheck Protection Program helped save 1.5 million jobs, in this state alone.”
As part of her visit, Trump toured Grand Rapids local business early in the day when she bought cider and donuts at Robinette’s Apple Haus and Winery, met with the Robinette family and tried her hand at caramel apple dipping.
During her comments, Schlapp turned to the audience as she mentioned a critique of “certain governors,” clearly alluding to Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, claiming they’re continuing to keep their states shut down, preventing small town businesses from reopening.
“Total shutdowns are not a strategy,” Trump responded. “We have to learn how to live our lives, but do so safely, re-open responsibly and love our neighbors, particularly the most vulnerable amongst us,” Trump.
Michigan is not shut down. Whitmer lifted the stay-home order in early June and the state Supreme Court’s decision scrapping the emergency powers law she used for her emergency actions has meant more restrictions have been lifted.
With the vast majority of the audience wearing Trump 2020 masks and red “Make America Great Again” hats in support of President Trump, they stood and loudly applauded when Trump described her father’s work ethic, “driven by his fundamental belief in freeing individuals from the government getting in their way.”
“He thinks about who he’s fighting for while developing creative solutions to difficult problems,” Ivanka Trump said. “He’s totally relentless.”
President Trump has recently rejoined the campaign trail after being hospitalized for COVID-19 and has held rallies in Michigan, Wisconsin and Arizona.
Grand Rapids resident Summer Stephen asked Ivanka Trump what important values she inherited from her father.
“Hard work, first and foremost,” she said. “You’ll never be better than someone who is passionate, regardless of background or academic credentials. Everyone in this room knows there is no shirking hard work, commitment and focus.”
The Michigan Democratic Party issued a statement in response to Trump’s visit, saying, “Kent County is fired up to get out the vote and reject Donald Trump’s erratic leadership. There’s nothing Ivanka can say today to cover for her father’s failures and stop the momentum building in west Michigan. We have seen the damage caused by Donald Trump’s failed COVID-19 response, his attacks on protections for pre-existing conditions, and his disastrous jobs record, and know we can’t afford four more years of the same.”
Another woman in the audience asked about President Trump’s education plan.
“Oh, yes, this is one of the things the president is most excited about in his second term,” Ivanka Trump said. “He’s already done so much to advance opportunities for vocational education and workforce development.”
Trump went on to explain how President Trump has called for all high schools in America to offer vocational programs.
“We need to be thinking about education as a lifelong pursuit,” Trump said. “With better programs, young men and women can learn early on if they’re good with their hands or a specific trade skill.”
Before exiting the farm’s restored 1860’s barn, Trump left her message to Michigan voters.
“You gotta get out and vote,” Trump said. “We’re fighting for a belief in American individualism and for the great American comeback.”
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