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Vice President Pence Campaigns in Iowa Following Derecho

Vice President Mike Pence and U.S. Senator Joni Ernst
Clay Masters
U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, R-IA, introduces Vice President Mike Pence during his re-election visit to Iowa Thursday. Pence is speaking at the Iowa State Fairgrounds.

Vice President Mike Pence campaigned in Iowa on Thursday and talked about the derecho and Joe Biden's pick of Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate.

Vice President Mike Pence made several campaign stops in Iowa on Thursday. He arrived just days after a severe weather event known as a derecho caused widespread damage to Iowa homes, businesses and cropland. Tens of thousands of Iowans were still without power when Pence arrived, and some school districts have delayed their start dates because of the destruction. Vice President Pence met privately with a small group of farmers whose crops were hit by the storm before addressing a crowd indoors.

“I assured them that they and all of those that have been impacted by this derecho are in the hearts and in the prayers of millions of Americans,” Pence told the crowd. "We are going to stay with you and we will work with your governor and your senators to make sure that we bring Iowa all the way back, bigger and stronger than ever before, I promise.”

Pence also suggested presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s choice of Sen. Kamala Harris for vice president would be bad for farmers.

“In fact the California Senator that he named as his running mate this week said during her short campaign for president that Americans needed to be educated on the effect of our eating habits on our environment,” Pence said to laughter from the crowd.

Pence was introduced by Sen. Joni Ernst who is running for re-election and locked in an expensive race against Democrat Theresa Greenfield.

Pence spoke on the Iowa State Fairgrounds on what was supposed to be the first day of the fair. Officials cancelled it this year because of the pandemic. Pence was also scheduled to speak at a rally in Urbandale in support of police and was the keynote speaker at a private fundraiser for the Republican Party of Iowa.

Former Iowa Governor and USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack criticized Pence for not altering his campaign schedule to personally survey the damage from Monday’s storm.

FiveThirtyEight suggests President Trump is slightly favored to win Iowa in November.

Clay Masters is Iowa Public Radio’s Morning Edition host and lead political reporter.