By: - October 28, 2020 8:08 pm

Vice President Mike Pence delivers remarks at the Christians United for Israel Washington Summit in Washington, D.C. Monday, July 8, 2019. | Official White House Photo by D. Myles Cullen via Flickr Public Domain

Vice President Mike Pence criticized Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden during a speech in Flint on Wednesday for saying that systemic racism exists in America.

“Now Joe Biden explains it all by saying he thinks America is systemically racist,” Pence said. “Joe Biden and [running mate] Kamala Harris regularly say that they believe police have an implicit bias against minorities.”

Harris is the first Indian-American and Black woman to be nominated by a major party for vice president.

The Michigan Civil Rights Commission said in 2017 that the Flint water crisis was partially “caused by structural and systemic discrimination and racism that have corroded your city, your institutions, and your water pipes, for generations.”

“Would the Flint water crisis have been allowed to happen in Birmingham, Ann Arbor or East Grand Rapids?” the report asks, before answering that “we believe that the answer is no, and that the vestiges of segregation found in Flint made it a unique target.”

Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D-Flint) said in a statement ahead of the rally that “the vice president is wasting his time here if he thinks that the people of Flint won’t see straight through his snake oil salesman tactics.”

“These guys side with racists and white supremacists and then have the nerve to come to Flint begging for votes,” Ananich said. “How dare they try to act like they have a care in the world for our city after they’ve completely bungled the pandemic response, rolled back water protections, attempted to gut health care and thrown organized labor under the bus at every opportunity.”

Pence falsely claimed that Biden has failed to condemn riots and wants to defund police departments.

“The truth is, Joe Biden would double down on the policies that have led to violence in our cities,” Pence said.

Biden has previously said that he would allocate additional resources to police departments and has repeatedly condemned violent protests.

Flint City Councilman Maurice Davis endorsed Trump at the rally.

“This year I decided to go with President Trump. I’m not a bootlicker. I’m not an Uncle Tom. I’m someone in a poor and impoverished community,” Davis said. “When Mr. Trump said ‘what the hell do you have to lose,’ he was talking to me.”

Pence said that the election was a “choice between a Trump recovery and a Biden depression.”

Goldman Sachs and other major banks have said that a Biden presidency could mean a faster economic recovery, in part due to the likelihood of a stimulus deal between Congress and the White House.

Stocks fell sharply Wednesday, with the Dow seeing its worst drop since June, as new cases of COVID-19 have sharply increased in the United States.

But Pence said that while Biden wants to introduce measures recommended by health experts to slow the spread of the virus, a Trump administration would reopen the economy.

“While Joe Biden’s talking about shutting down our country, we are opening up America again,” Pence said.

France and Germany both introduced new restrictions intended to curb their own outbreaks of COVID-19 earlier Wednesday, with the former going into a nationwide lockdown and the latter coming near one.

Other European countries, like Belgium, Italy and the Czech Republic, also introduced new restrictions in recent days.

Pence criticized Harris, a Democratic U.S. senator from California, for voting against the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

“I mean, 90 senators in Washington don’t agree on anything, but they did on the USMCA,” Pence said. “But Kamala Harris, who was rated last year as the most liberal member of the United States Senate, actually voted against the USMCA because she said it didn’t go far enough on climate change. I mean, you all deserve to know here in Michigan that Joe Biden’s running mate put her radical environmental agenda ahead of Michigan jobs and Michigan auto workers.”

Pence criticized Biden as supporting the Green New Deal, which Biden has said he does not support.

“He’s got this $2 trillion Green New Deal, as the president had to remind him of in the first presidential debate,” Pence said. “He must’ve forgot he was for it.”

Trump was in Michigan Tuesday for a rally in Lansing, where he repeatedly attacked Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and suggested that the plot to kidnap and possibly kill her may not have been a problem.

Trump is scheduled to return to the state on Friday for a rally in Waterford Township.

Biden will be in Michigan on Saturday for a rally with former President Barack Obama, who Biden served under as vice president.

Biden’s wife, Jill Biden, will be in Michigan on Thursday for canvass kickoffs in Lansing and Westland.

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 3, but early voting has already started in Michigan. About 2.4 million Michigan residents had already returned their absentee ballots as of Wednesday, out of the more than 3.25 million that had requested them.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Andrew Roth
Andrew Roth

Andrew Roth is a reporting intern with the Michigan Advance. He has been covering Michigan policy and politics for three years across a number of publications and studies journalism at Michigan State University.