VP Pence talks DeVos, Florence, economy while in W. MI

Kent County

CASCADE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Vice President Mike Pence took time out of his trip to West Michigan Wednesday to pay homage to late Amway co-founder Rich DeVos.

Around 3 p.m., the vice president’s motorcade pulled up to the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel. The vice president visited privately with the DeVos family to give his respects.

The visit came shortly after Pence talked about DeVos’ legacy during a speech at Mill Steel Company in Cascade Township.

>>App users: Watch Pence’s speech here.

“I can’t help but come to Grand Rapids and think of another great American, who left this world just a few short days ago. Who literally embodied the American dream. And let me close with just a word of admiration and a word of tribute to Rich DeVos,” Pence said.

The vice president called DeVos a “proud son of Grand Rapids and Michigan” as he recounted his legacy and how he helped build Amway into a global company.

“Rich DeVos is a great American. He lived a great life, a life of family, of faith in America and faith in God. And Rich DeVos will be missed,” Pence said.

>>Inside woodtv.com: Remembering Richard DeVos

Pence said DeVos created jobs and opportunities and never forgot where he was from.

“I want to promise each and every one of you as this city this week will say goodbye to someone who leaves an indelible mark on the life of this community, through his legacy and his generosity, that we’re going to keep working each and every day, to put into practice the principles that he lived by,” Pence said.


The vice president traveled to Mill Steel Company after his plane landed at Gerald R. Ford International Airport shortly before 1 p.m. Wednesday.

Shortly after stepping off the aircraft, Pence spoke briefly with Gov. Rick Snyder and Republican Congressman Bill Huizenga of Zeeland. He shook hands with supporters lining the tarmac before climbing into a black Cadillac.

>>App users: Watch live coverage of Pence’s arrival here.


Pence’s motorcade then headed to Mill Steel Company, where he delivered a nearly 20-minute speech, much of which focused on economic milestones the nation has reached during President Donald Trump’s time in office.

“The truth of the matter is jobs are back, confidence is back. In a word, the Heartland and all of America is back. And we’re just getting started, Michigan,” Pence said.

Pence pointed to tax cuts and tax reform legislation Trump passed just before Christmas.

“That’s promises made and promises kept and this economy is growing as a result,” he said.

The vice president also attacked Michigan’s Democratic U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters for not supporting the tax cuts, which he said will increase the average household income about $2,000 and $4,000 per household.

Pence mentioned how Mill Steel Company passed on $1,000 bonuses to its 400 employees as a result of the tax cut, and has bought land to add an office and another mill in Michigan.

Pence said for the first time, America is exporting energy. He also said old steel mills are opening up, adding hundreds of jobs.

“You know, the truth is in recent decades, two-thirds of America’s steel companies closed their doors. A third of our steel jobs actually disappeared. But under this administration, those days are over. American steel is coming back, thanks to the leadership of President Donald Trump,” Pence said.

Pence said in the last 18 months, manufacturers have added more than 378,000 jobs. He said 14,000 of those jobs were in Michigan. 

“Manufacturing is coming back, thanks to this president and our partners in Congress,” he said.

Pence also pointed to recent census reports that said middle class incomes are at an all-time high.


Pence also addressed the dangers of Hurricane Florence as it closes in on the East Coast. The vice president said when Florence makes landfall, it’s poised to be as devastating as Hurricane Hugo was in 1989.

Pence and said the administration has already taken “decisive action” to prepare for the storm and President Trump has already issued emergency disaster declarations for South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia. He said the administration has coordinated with groups to ensure resources are ready to help those affected.

“So with that, let me say to the people across the region in the path of Hurricane Florence, be assured: the American people are with you. We will be with you every step of the way through the storm, to recover and rebuild bigger and better than ever before, and God Bless you all,” said Pence.

He asked those facing Florence to heed authorities’ warnings and evacuation orders.

“Our message is very clear. To anyone who is in the path of this storm, it is vital that every American in harm’s way take this storm seriously and be safe,” said Pence.

Pence asked Michigan residents to consider donating money to support those impacted by the storm, or volunteer to help. He pointed to the American Red Cross and Samaritas, which are already sending teams to the coast.


Wednesday’s visit was Pence’s third trip to Michigan since the primary election, and his second to Grand Rapids.

Pence last visited West Michigan Aug. 8 for the GOP Unity Rally in Grand Rapids. He stumped on the east side of the state for Republican U.S. Senate candidate John James less than two weeks ago.

— Political Reporter Rick Albin contributed to this report.

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