By SCOTT BAUER
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Vice President Mike Pence emphasized President Donald Trump’s commitment to “law and order” during a campaign stop Monday in swing state Wisconsin about 70 miles from a city where sometimes violent protests erupted following the police shooting of Jacob Blake.
Pence, speaking to an enthusiastic crowd inside a Janesville hotel, credited Trump with stopping the violence in Kenosha after he sent about 200 federal officers there. Those officers were dispatched after Gov. Tony Evers had activated the Wisconsin National Guard to quell protests after the Blake shooting.
Both Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden visited Kenosha just days apart two weeks ago.
Pence said that Biden would “double down on all the policies that have led to violence in American cities.” He accused Biden of signaling a “lack of support or waning support” for law enforcement that emboldens those who oppose them.
“We are going to have law and order in every city, in every state in this country for every American of every race and creed and color,” Pence said as the crowd broke into chants of “U-S-A!”
Biden, when he was in Kenosha, drew sharp contrasts with Trump, saying the unrest that followed the shooting of Blake, a Black man, gave the country an opportunity to confront centuries of systemic racism.
Biden met with members of Blake’s family when he was in Kenosha and spoke to Blake from the hospital, where he is recovering after being shot seven times in the back. Trump met with local local enforcement officers while in Kenosha but not with Blake’s family. The president offered his unvarnished support to law enforcement, blaming the violence on “domestic terror.”
Pence also referenced the weekend shooting of two Los Angeles County deputies who were wounded after a gunman walked up to a parked sheriff’s squad car and opened fire.
A handful of protesters gathered outside the hospital where the injured deputies were being treated. Videos from the scene recorded at least one person in the crowd yelling, “I hope they … die.”
Pence noted that comment in promising the crowd in Janesville that the Trump administration would stand by police.
“The president and I will always support the right of Americans to peaceful protest,” Pence said. “But rioting and looting is not peaceful protests. Burning businesses is not free speech. Bringing violence against innocent civilians or those in law enforcement must stop and it must stop now.”
Pence has been a frequent visitor to battleground Wisconsin, having stopped in La Crosse just last week. Pence’s visit to Janesville on Monday came 50 days before the election and four days before Trump was to hold a rally in Mosinee in central Wisconsin.