Pence, Biden, Harris make Arizona campaign stops

Arizona Republic

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris are making an Arizona campaign stop on Thursday as is Vice President Mike Pence.

Pence will hold a rally in Peoria, while Biden and Harris will visit with small business owners in Phoenix and Tempe.

Check back with throughout the day for updates.

12:45 p.m.: Vice President Pence arrives in Phoenix

Vice President Mike Pence touched down at the Goldwater Air National Guard Base in Phoenix about 12:20 p.m. Thursday.  

A masked Pence exited Air Force Two alongside Marsha and Carl Mueller, the parents of Kayla Mueller. Kayla, who grew up in Prescott, was captured by ISIS in Syria in 2013 and was killed in 2015.

Gov. Doug Ducey and U.S. Sen. Martha McSally, both Republicans and both masked, were on hand to greet the vice president.

Ducey and Pence touched elbows in lieu of a handshake.

Pence departed the base about 12:35 p.m. He is scheduled to headline a rally at a tactical-gear supply business in Peoria later in the afternoon. 

— Jamie Landers

Noon: Biden at Heard Museum, will release tribal issues plan

Former Vice President Joe Biden is meeting with tribal leaders Thursday at the Heard Museum in Phoenix, where he’ll release his new set of policy proposals on tribal issues.

The 15-page document lays out how a Biden administration would work with tribal governments as well as set itself apart from President Donald Trump’s record.

Biden’s proposals touch on a range of topics, including remedying health care disparities, addressing climate change, restoring tribal lands and cleaning up hundreds of thousands of abandoned mines, protecting cultural areas and increasing resources to make tribal communities safer. 

The plan also includes what the campaign says is a broader response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has hit tribal communities particularly hard.

Law enforcement would be beefed up in a Biden administration as well, with an emphasis on increasing resources for investigating what’s become an epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous people.

Biden’s plan would also reinstate conferences between the White House and tribal leaders, which have not happened during Trump’s term, and reinvigorate the White House Council on Native American Affairs, which the current administration left empty for three years.

— Debra Utacia Krol

11 a.m. ‘It’s time’: Some Arizonans excited by prospect of VP Harris

U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, the Democratic vice presidential nominee, is set to visit Arizona for her first in-person campaign stop on Thursday. 

For women and people of color who are supporting the Democratic candidates, the former prosecutor brings a diversity sorely lacking in politics and at the highest levels of office.

She is the first Black woman and first Asian American on a major-party presidential ticket, and she is the only woman and person of color on either ticket this year. If the Democratic ticket wins in November, Harris would be the first female vice president in U.S. history.

For Arizona voter Lola Rainey, seeing representation on the ballot matters, even though she may not see eye to eye with Harris on criminal justice issues. As the executive director of the Tucson Second Chance Community Bail Fund, Rainey describes herself as an abolitionist of both prisons and police. 

“That’s very important for a lot of women and young women, and young girls of color, and women all over the world to see that happen. It’s a first,” Rainey said. “I’m happy that I’m alive at this moment, because there’s been a lot of battles fought, and it’s time.”

Other Arizonans, like Fountain Hills resident Sharon Dennis, supported Harris when she was a presidential candidate during the Democratic primary. Dennis said she liked Harris’ personality, intelligence, humor and ability to think of her feet, and is excited by what Harris’ candidacy means for young people.

“I sincerely believe that having a woman like Kamala Harris as a role model will positively affect not only teenage girls but teenage boys,” she said. “I think they need more role models in positions of power to begin modeling their own lives.”

— Rachel Leingang and Maria Polletta

10 a.m.: 5 things you may not know about Pence’s Arizona ties

For a lifelong midwesterner, Vice President Mike Pence has quite a few Arizona ties — both personal and professional. Ahead of his Thursday visit to Peoria, here’s a closer look at them. 

‘Bromance’ with Ducey: Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey met Pence in Indiana in the early 2010s at an event with the state’s then-governor, Mitch Daniels. At the time, Pence was seen as the natural successor to Daniels, who was approaching the end of his term. 

When Ducey launched his first campaign to become Arizona’s chief executive and found himself in a crowded, often heated primary, the newly minted Gov. Pence lent his support to Ducey’s candidacy.

Their relationship grew over the years, as the two men presided over their states and faced similar issues. They still talk regularly. 

Falling out with Flake: Before Pence became vice president and former U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz. retired from the Senate, the two men were “ideological soulmates,” according to a 2018 report in Politico Magazine.

But Pence’s decision to align himself with Trump threw a wrench into his friendship with Flake. “The old allies aren’t exactly estranged,” the report said. “But it’s nothing like their heyday in the House, when one man could always be found at the other’s side.”

Rocky but respectful relationship with McCain: While Pence certainly had his frustrations with the late U.S. Sen. John McCain over the years — particularly after he was unable to convince the Arizona Republican to support the GOP’s best chance at repealing the Affordable Care Act — he never feuded with the senator the way the President Donald Trump did and still does.

After McCain died of brain cancer in 2018, it was Pence, not Trump, who represented the Trump administration at his memorial in Washington, D.C. “For 35 years, John served in these very halls, under this very dome, and he fought for what he believed in,” Pence said at the service. 

Military dad: After landing in Yuma in September, the vice president and Second Lady Karen Pence were greeted by their son, Michael Pence Jr., an active duty Marine pilot stationed there. 

“The Pence family loves Arizona!” Pence told a west Valley crowd that day.

The ‘road to victory’: The vice president clearly recognizes Arizona’s importance as a November battleground state. Pence’s Thursday visit will mark his fourth trip to the Grand Canyon state in as many months, and it’s possible he could return again ahead of Nov. 3. 

While in Litchfield Park last month, he told the audience: “The road to victory runs right through Arizona.”

— Maria Polletta

9 a.m. October surprise in Arizona

Biden, Harris and Pence planned their Thursday visits with the start of early voting in Arizona in mind.

What they likely didn’t anticipate: a last-minute extension of the state’s voter registration deadline, from Oct. 5 to Oct. 23. 

Two advocacy groups, Mi Familia Vota and Arizona Coalition for Change, filed a legal challenge pushing for more time, contending pandemic-related public health measures had limited their ability to register voters ahead of the election.

Both organizations mostly register voters face-to-face by knocking on doors or approaching prospective voters in typically high-traffic public places. 

U.S. District Judge Steven P. Logan agreed with them in a decision issued Monday. Hours later, lawyers representing the Republican National Committee filed a late-night appeal.

On Wednesday, the RNC’s initial attempt to halt the extension was denied, allowing prospective voters to continue registering. The court battle is ongoing. 

— Andrew Oxford and Maria Polletta

8 a.m.: Biden, Harris en route to Arizona

Democratic nominee Joe Biden departed for Phoenix just before 7 a.m. Thursday.

The former vice president and his running mate, U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris are scheduled to meet with tribal leaders and small business owners. Afterward, they will deliver remarks before boarding a bus about 2 p.m. for a “Soul of the Nation” tour to meet with small business owners in Phoenix and Tempe.

They also plan to meet with voters, according to the Biden campaign. A spokeswoman said Biden “looks forward to speaking directly to the American people and comparing his plan for bringing the country together.”

This is the  first Arizona trip of the year for the Democratic presidential ticket.

In late August, Biden had said he planned to visit Arizona after Labor Day. He instead spent September in other battleground states, such as Florida and North Carolina.

Since then, Biden surrogates have been working to coordinate visits in hopes of delivering him Arizona’s 11 electoral votes. Several Democratic statewide gains in 2018, along with uncertainty over when the pandemic will end, have put what was once a reliably red state in play.

Biden has led Trump in the majority of local and national polls in recent months, but there are indications his lead may be narrowing. 

— Yvonne Wingett Sanchez and Maria Polletta

7 a.m. Pence’s Arizona plans

With President Donald Trump recently hospitalized for COVID-19, Vice President Mike Pence is returning to Arizona to keep the Republican reelection campaign fresh in voters’ minds.

Campaign officials initially had announced an 11:30 a.m. rally at a tactical-gear supply business in Peoria, but the start time was later pushed back to 2:30 p.m. Pence’s event Thursday is expected to be held outdoors, one organizer told The Arizona Republic.

Pence was last here in mid-September, for a series of events aimed at Latino voters and veterans. Since then, the president has participated in a contentious debate with Democratic challenger Joe Biden, and several top Republicans have tested positive for COVID-19. 

The Trump campaign is still trying to figure out what events it can host and how they will fit within health guidelines, given the ongoing outbreak. While the president’s rallies have drawn scores of maskless supporters, masks have been more strictly enforced at Pence events. 

The website for Pence’s Thursday appearance did not specifically note a mask requirement, but a campaign official said every attendee would undergo a temperature check, receive a mask and have access to hand sanitizer.

As part of the event registration process, attendees had to acknowledge they understood “that an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present.”

— Ronald J. Hansen and Maria Polletta

6 a.m.: Rare event as 3 of 4 candidates in Arizona on Thursday

Three-fourths of the candidates on this year’s presidential tickets will be in Arizona on Thursday, hosting dueling campaign events and attempting to sway the sliver of Grand Canyon State voters who remain undecided.

It’s the first time Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris are hosting in-person events in the crucial battleground state, where early voting is already underway.

Vice President Mike Pence, meanwhile, will be making his fourth trip to Arizona in as many months.

It’s rare to have both candidates on a presidential ticket in town campaigning together, let alone having part of the opposing ticket here, too, according to longtime Arizona political analyst Doug Cole.

Asked if he could recall a similar situation in any past election season, Cole said: “No, never.”

“We used to not even get TV commercials from presidential campaigns in the past,” he said. “This shows how important Arizona has become.”

— Maria Polletta

Reach the reporter at or 602-653-6807. Follow her on Twitter @mpolletta.

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