Jazmine Early, left, in the red hat, created a poster for gatherers outside Vice President Mike Pence’s Sterling Heights event. The poster included signatures showing signers’ support for law enforcement. She plans to present it to the Sterling Heights Police Department.

Jazmine Early, left, in the red hat, created a poster for gatherers outside Vice President Mike Pence’s Sterling Heights event. The poster included signatures showing signers’ support for law enforcement. She plans to present it to the Sterling Heights Police Department.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Pence speaks in Sterling, lunches in Mount Clemens

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published June 19, 2020


STERLING HEIGHTS — Surrounded by supporters of President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence visited Sterling Heights June 18 to give remarks about the economy, COVID-19, law enforcement and more.

The event, titled  the “Great American Comeback Tour,” was hosted by America First Policies, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit that supports Trump’s political positions. The event’s main issue was getting the economy back on track after the COVID-19 pandemic and its related shutdowns put tens of millions of Americans out of work.

While in Sterling Heights, Pence visited Chardam Gear Co. and Casadei Steel Inc. He praised the companies for their manufacturing and national defense roles. He also praised Chardam for not letting any of its workers go during the pandemic and for helping health care workers, and he praised Casadei for its role in producing ventilator parts.

When Pence addressed the economy, he said that while Americans have passed through “very challenging times over the last several months,” their sacrifices and dedication have paid off. He said May saw the largest one-month job increase figure in American history.

“Every state in this country is now opened up again, and three-quarters of America’s small businesses are going back to work,” he said. “The transition to greatness has begun, and we’re building and rebuilding this economy.”

On the issues of race and law enforcement, Pence said he respected the concerns of peaceful protesters. He said there was no excuse for what happened to George Floyd and no excuse for rioting, looting and violence, either. He promised “law and order” and not defunding the police.

“The people of Michigan know that most of the men and women who put on the uniform of law enforcement every day are the best people in this country,” Pence said.

He also discussed the administration’s coronavirus response. He said the Trump administration, working with Michigan, delivered masks, gowns, face shields and other personal protective equipment for health care workers. He thanked Americans and businesses for their roles in staving off the virus.

“We slowed the spread, we flattened the curve, we cared for the most vulnerable and we saved lives,” he said.

In response to Pence’s visit, U.S. Rep. Andy Levin said in a statement that it shows that Trump can’t win re-election or keep the Senate in Republican hands without securing Macomb County and Michigan. But Levin said the county is growing in diversity and inclusion, as evidenced by the June 6 Black Lives Matter protest down Hall Road.

“I marched in Sterling Heights and Clinton Township alongside student organizers, community leaders, pastors and thousands of my constituents a couple of weeks ago in what may have been the largest racial justice demonstration in Macomb’s history,” he said.  

“There’s a different spirit here today than there was in 2016. This is a place that sees through the broken promises of this failed administration and is ready for real, unifying leadership in 2020. A shift is underway.”

Levin also criticized the current administration’s handling of the economy.

“Yesterday, we learned our state has experienced unemployment over 20% for the second straight month. Michiganders are seeking unemployment insurance at rates not seen since the Great Depression,” Levin said.  “Yet our president has called recent job numbers ‘joyous.’ There’s nothing joyous about the suffering I’m seeing in my district.”

Prior to heading to Sterling Heights, Pence spent some time June 18 on the east side of Macomb County.

After arriving on Air Force Two at Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Harrison Township, the 61-year-old former Indiana governor traveled to have lunch at the Engine House, on Cass Avenue in Mount Clemens.

Pence was greeted at Selfridge by 127th Wing Cmndr. Rolf Mammen and Command Chief Master Sgt. Richard Gordon.

Shortly after speaking with the vice president, Mammen told C & G Newspapers that everyone at the base understands how strategically important the base is and its role in securing a high-profile visit.

Pence’s Selfridge arrival was the second time this year the base has welcomed a top public official. President Donald Trump landed at Selfridge in January.

“With both of them coming in within five months, it solidifies that Selfridge is a cornerstone of Michigan communities,” Mammen said. “We’re getting to the point where we’ve done it so many times over the years and we have a playbook that we run. Certain things change every now and then on what the Secret Service wants us to do, but beyond that, I know that we’re ready.”   

The Engine House is owned by Detroit firefighter Capt. Greg Sisoy and retired Detroit firefighter John Gusmano.

A couple of days before the visit, Gusmano said, the restaurant reached out to the White House to see if the vice president would like to stop by. They learned of the stop the morning of June 15.

Gusmano said his staff was excited to welcome Pence, adding that in all of his years in the restaurant business, this is the first time that an elected official of Pence’s level has visited the bar and grill.

On June 18, the Engine House, which is operating at 50% capacity due to COVID-19 restrictions, was open for reservation only.

Gusmano and Sisoy — who are Trump supporters, Gusmano said — have owned the Engine House for 14 years. Gusmano was a Detroit firefighter from 1970-2001.

Pence last visited Michigan in February, when he went to Troy for a rally at the Detroit Marriott Troy.