Politics & Government

Mike Pence said he nibbled on horse feed hours before the Kentucky Derby. Here’s why.

On the eve of the Kentucky Derby, Vice President Mike Pence made an appearance at a Lexington small business that supplies feed to top Thoroughbreds in an effort to drum up support for a new North American trade deal.

Pence told a crowd of invited guests at Hallway Feeds on Loudon Avenue that the Trump administration’s trade deal with Canada and Mexico “will create even more momentum in the economy that’s already growing.”

And he said Hallway Feeds is “emblematic of companies that have been able to seize on these new policies of less taxes for businesses and individuals, less regulation, more access to affordable energy and better trade deals to be able to grow and expand.”

Pence also took the opportunity to voice his support for Gov. Matt Bevin, who is up for re-election.

“I’m so proud of your leadership,” Pence told Bevin from the podium. “The president and I are truly grateful for the way that you’ve turned Kentucky around.”

Pence is one of a small parade of administration officials who have recently made appearances in Kentucky, including Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

He was joined at the small business by Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, who also praised Bevin, saying the state’s all-time low unemployment, which stood at 4 percent last month, “doesn’t happen without leadership.”

It’s the second time in less than a month that the vice president has been to Kentucky. Pence appeared at a fundraiser for Bevin’s reelection campaign at the Aviation Museum of Kentucky at Blue Grass Airport on March 8.

Pence was scheduled to attend the Kentucky Governor’s Ball, a pre-Derby event, after his appearance at Hallway Feeds.

Hallway Feeds vice president Lee Hall praised the Trump administration, saying he’s been able to invest in technology and raise employee wages under its policies.

And he said he said he thinks the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement could “streamline” the process of dealing with Canada and Mexico, which he said can sometimes involve jumping through hoops.

Pence said the agreement would add an estimated 176,000 jobs and $68 billion in investment to the economy.

Congress may be reluctant to approve the proposal. While the Republican-led Senate doesn’t like the trade tariffs, the Democratic-led House wants better enforcement mechanisms to encourage Mexico to strengthen labor laws.

“The Heartland needs to be heard from about the need to have the USMCA signed into law,” Pence said, adding later, “We want you to spread the word.”

Before his appearance, Pence took a short tour of the business, which specializes in equine feed.

“I did go ahead and take a little nibble of it,” Pence told the crowd. “I think that increases the likelihood that the next winner of the Kentucky Derby and I had the same thing for dinner.”

Hall said hosting the vice president was “very humbling.”

“It’s the highest compliment,” he said.

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