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Pence visits Utah to promote trade deal with Mexico, Canada

Vice President Mike Pence visits Salt Lake City. Photo courtesy of Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Vice President Mike Pence once again called on Congress to ratify the Trump administration’s new trade deal with Mexico and Canada during a visit to a congressional swing district in Utah.

Speaking to several hundred employees and local leaders at Merit Medical, a disposable medical device manufacturer in suburban Salt Lake City, Pence said the deal would create more manufacturing jobs and give America the upper hand in trade negotiations with China.

“We will make Utah and America more prosperous than ever before … the era of economic surrender is over,” he told the cheering crowd.

Merit Medical conducts business in Mexico and Canada and is also one of the state’s biggest political donors, contributing thousands of dollars to GOP candidates including Utah Gov. Gary Herbert.

Former Republican U.S. Rep. Mia Love held a news conference at the company in 2018, the year the district narrowly flipped to Democrat Ben McAdams.

In his speech, Pence specifically called on McAdams to help bring the new trade agreement to the floor of the U.S. House. “Washington needs to hear from Utah, and hear from Utah right now,” Pence said.

McAdams said in a statement that he already signed a letter asking Speaker Nancy Pelosi to bring it to a vote this year.

A number of Republicans have stepped up to challenge the lone Democrat in the state’s congressional delegation who won the seat by less than 800 votes last year. While Utah is reliably conservative overall, many voters have a wariness of Trump’s combative style.

Pence arrived in Utah on Wednesday after visiting New Mexico, where he spoke about the trade pact to a crowd at an oilfield services company close to the border.

His trip to the West is part of a nationwide campaign to promote the trade pact during visits to districts where Democrats narrowly won in 2018.

During his Utah stop, Pence also had a brief private meeting with three high-ranking officials with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They discussed the value of faith and religious liberty, according to a news release from church officials.