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As Milwaukee hosts Vice President Mike Pence for an event to raise money and support for Senate candidate Leah Vukmir, Milwaukee will also host an estimated 150,000 riders of a vehicle sold by a company that President Trump's administration has recently decried.
A little more than two weeks ago, the President stated he supported a boycott of Milwaukee-based Harley-Davidson if some of its manufacturing moves to Europe, as the company has stated it needs to do in order to overcome tariffs the European Union has placed in response to the President's tariff moves against Europe. President Trump's move comes also after a summer of harsh criticism of Harley-Davidson's overseas production plans, including expanded taxes against Harley-Davidson.
In a one-on-one interview America's second in command in the executive branch stated his support for Harley-Davidson, but also for the President's hard negotiations involving trade."This President wants to make sure that this great company continues to build those great motorcycles right here in America. I know President Trump expressed a concern about announcements of shifting production overseas," said Vice President Pence.
"What we've done in cutting taxes for businesses just like Harley-Davidson, rolling back regulation, the announcement of a new trade agreement with the United States and Mexico, our continued negotiations with Canada, with the European Union, with Japan and our strong stand on China, we just think we're creating a great story here in America. We want to see companies like Harley-Davidson continue to expand and create jobs right there in the good old U.S.A."
Harley-Davidson CEO Matt Levatich told CNBC that the President's statements have brought "unfortunate attention" to the company's overseas production moves. They come in response to how European tariffs against Harley-Davidson have risen from six to 31 percent, leading to the company attempting to improve its bottom line in the European market by moving some production there.
"We're only doing that because these are important growth markets for the company that without those investments we wouldn't have access to those customers, at any kind of reasonable price," Levatich said to CNBC.
As for himself, Vice President Pence says he is an avid rider.
"My relationship with Harley-Davidson goes back to when I got my motorcycle license renewed in my first year as (Indiana) Governor. I ride a Harley. I like it. I don't own one. I borrow them. It's one of the best ways to see the American countryside. I love the tradition."
The President made a new trade deal with Mexico that could change aspects of NAFTA. Vice President Pence spoke of specific aspects that will affect Wisconsin.
"We continue to preserve zero tariffs on all agricultural goods in trade with Mexico, but on the manufacturing side, we basically changed what are called the rules of origin...we took out the incentive that companies have had...to essentially relocate jobs south of the border," said the Vice President.
"We remain tariff free; cars sold in North America have to have 75 percent of their content made here. That's up from 62 percent under NAFTA. We're requiring some 40 percent be made with workers who make a wage of $16 per hour or more."
The vice president is also talking about his relationship with fallen statesman John McCain, a Republican Senator for 30 years from Arizona and a hero in the Vietnam War who passed away and will be remembered this weekend before his burial Sunday.
"I will always count it as a great privilege that during my 12 years in Congress, that I served with and came to know Senator John McCain. He was a patriot. He was a great champion not just for Arizona but frankly for America," said Vice President Pence. He says he will speak Friday at the United States Capitol during an official national event of mourning for McCain. Yet McCain said before his passing he would not invite President Trump to his memorial service.
The White House had put the American flag at full staff just a couple days after McCain's passing last Saturday, against the protocol for the death of a sitting Senator which says the flag will remain at half staff until burial.
"The flag above the White House is (now) lowered," said Pence. "Flags across the country will be lowered to half staff until the day of John McCain's internment."
"Every American honors the service of Senator John McCain."