Pence praises Reynolds for ‘bringing about’ Democrat-proposed police misconduct legislation

Vice President Mike Pence waves to the crowd at Winnebago Industries in Forest City on June 16, 2020. (Screen shot from White House livestream of event)

Vice President Mike Pence, in Iowa on Tuesday, credited Gov. Kim Reynolds for “bringing about” police-misconduct legislation that was unanimously approved last week by the Iowa Legislature.

“I know Gov. Kim Reynolds brought about a unanimously passed piece of legislation she signed on the steps of your state Capitol just last Friday, creating more oversight and more accountability,” Pence said. “And I want to thank you, Governor, for your compassion and leadership, your support for law enforcement and for bringing Iowa together.”

The legislation the Republican governor signed was proposed by Democrats in the Legislature and particularly members of the Iowa Black Caucus. They announced the proposal, which includes a ban on chokeholds and an increase in de-escalation and anti-bias training, on the Capitol steps on June 4.

A week later, a bill based on the proposal was introduced in the Legislature by Republican and Democratic leaders in the Iowa House and approved unanimously the same day. Reynolds made a rare appearance in the House and Senate chambers during the debate to signal her support.

Pence spoke to employees at the Winnebago Industries plant in Forest City on the same day President Trump signed an executive order aimed at tracking police misconduct, reinforcing bans on chokeholds and making federal dollars available for training and coordination with social services.

“We’re going to help our police improve,” he said.

He said the president and his administration would listen to the African-American community and to peaceful protesters and learn from them.  “But we’re not going to defund the police,” he said.

Pence spoke harshly against the circumstances that led to the death of George Floyd last month in Minneapolis, calling it a “disgrace” that “shocked the conscience of our nation.”

He also equally condemned the violence that accompanied some protests that followed Floyd’s death.

“There’s no excuse for what happened to George Floyd but there’s also no excuse for the rioting and looting and violence that has ensued,” Pence said.

Pence also used his remarks to celebrate the reopening of businesses that closed during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Winnebago, which manufactures recreational vehicles and other outdoor equipment, closed temporarily.

“Volunteers from this company, I’m told, made 36,000 masks that were manufactured for hospitals in Iowa. And you also created face shields at this plant and distributed them to health care workers and first responders all across the state,” Pence said.  “That’s America.”

Iowa never had a hard shutdown due to COVID-19, but Reynolds ordered some entertainment and retail businesses and other public venues to close during most of April. The phased reopening now allows restaurants and bars to operate without capacity restrictions, although social-distancing guidelines are in effect.

“You know, thanks to the leadership of President Trump and Gov. Kim Reynolds and all the good people of the Hawkeye State, I’m proud to report to you, here and across America, we slowed the spread. We flattened the curve. We saved lives. And that’s why we’re opening up America again,” Pence said.

The Trump administration has been criticized for its coronavirus response, including being slow to develop and distribute diagnostic tests and failing to maintain national stockpiles of medical equipment and personal protective gear.

Pence praised a restaurant in Forest City, Sally’s Restaurant, where he had lunch with Reynolds and others before touring Winnebago.  “Try the hamburger,” he advised, adding that the restaurant owner, Sally Larson, “opened up today for the first time since the pandemic struck.”

Pence had a cheeseburger at the restaurant and also expressed interest in the homemade pecan pie.