Pence casts Biden as socialist bent on ruining America

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Alex Martin/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

Vice President Mike Pence gives a speech on Friday, July 17, 2020, at Ripon College in Ripon, Wis. (Alex Martin/The Post-Crescent via AP)

MADISON, Wis. – Vice President Mike Pence stepped up attacks on Joe Biden with an aggressive speech Friday in the birthplace of the Republican Party, casting the election in under four months as a choice “between freedom and opportunity and socialism and decline.”

Pence, drawing sharp contrasts between President Donald Trump’s vision for the country and that of Biden and other Democrats, said the election will determine “whether America remains America. ... or whether we leave for our children and grandchildren a country that’s fundamentally transformed into something else.”

Pence's message in Wisconsin reflects a broader effort from Trump's reelection campaign and his allies to paint November in the starkest terms, and it highlights the core message the president appears to have settled on for the closing months of the campaign.

The speech delivered on the campus of Ripon College in battleground Wisconsin comes as polls show Trump trailing Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, in a state that Trump won by fewer than 23,000 votes in 2016. Winning Wisconsin is key to both Trump and Biden’s plans for victory.

Biden, for his part, also frames November as a fundamental choice, with his campaign's paid advertising and daily arguments casting Trump as fundamentally unfit for the presidency. Biden points repeatedly to Trump downplaying the coronavirus pandemic and stoking racial tensions amid a national reckoning with police violence against Black Americans and centuries of systemic inequalities. Beyond Republicans' usual framing of Democrats as tax-and-spend liberals, Pence's attack on Biden Friday was pegged in part to the Democrat's sweeping economic proposals, from making a government health insurance plan available to all working-age Americans to a $2 trillion plan to overhaul the nation's energy grid and reduce the carbon pollution driving the climate crisis.

Pence said that if Biden wins the election, the country will spin into economic decline, be less safe and have open borders and taxpayer-funded abortions. He accused Biden of having a “radical agenda” that will “transform this country into something utterly unrecognizable.”

Pence said Trump, not Biden, supports law enforcement and will “stand with African American families and all minorities to improve our quality of life in our cities and towns.” He called a recent rise in shootings and murders in some major cities a "frightening preview of Joe Biden's agenda in action.”

“The hard truth is you won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America,” Pence said.