- Associated Press - Thursday, March 2, 2017

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Vice President Mike Pence planned to deliver a speech to an invite-only audience at an agricultural supply store’s headquarters and distribution center in the hometown of House Speaker Paul Ryan on Friday.

Pence is expected to be joined by Ryan and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price for the stop at Blain Supply in Janesville. They were also expected to hold a listening session with farmers and local business owners.

The White House announced Thursday that Pence’s talk will focus on President Donald Trump’s economic agenda and planned repeal and replacement of the federal health care law, the Affordable Care Act. Blain Supply said the audience for the speech will be about 350 invited guests and company employees.

The event is not open to the public.

Wisconsin Democratic Party spokesman Brandon Weathersby said instead of talking about replacing the federal health care law that he said was “getting more popular by the day,” Pence and Ryan should instead be focused on Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his communications with the Russian government.

The Janesville distribution center where Pence was speaking supplies Blain’s Farm and Fleet stores that are located in 38 communities in Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa. The company employs about 4,400 people in the three states, including 600 in Janesville.

Blain owner Jane Blain Gilbertson said in a statement that she agreed to host the event to bring together successful farmers and multi-generational, family-owned businesses to speak directly with Pence about issues they care about.

The visit marks that first time that Pence has come to Wisconsin since taking office in January. Trump carried the state in the November election, becoming the first Republican presidential candidate to win Wisconsin since Ronald Reagan in 1984.

Trump had planned to visit Harley-Davidson in Milwaukee shortly after taking office, but canceled amid calls for large protests. Pence has a close relationship with Gov. Scott Walker, but he will not be attending. Walker said Wednesday he won’t be able to get back from Washington, D.C., in time. He was there on Thursday speaking with House Republicans about their agenda. Walker is head of the Republican Governors Association.

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Follow Scott Bauer on Twitter at https://twitter.com/sbauerAP . His work can be found at https://bigstory.ap.org/content/scott-bauer .


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