By Ed Martin, Editor
Vice President of the United States Mike Pence was in Lemoore Wednesday at the farm of Doug and Julie Freitas & Sons where about 600 persons greeted him.
Vice President of the United States Mike Pence was in Lemoore Wednesday at the farm of Doug and Julie Freitas & Sons where about 600 persons greeted him.
Gary Feinstein/Feinsteinfotos

A friendly and mostly partisan crowd of about 500 to 600 persons on Wednesday greeted the first vice president ever to visit Lemoore. On what turned out to be a mostly pleasant but warm Valley afternoon, many of Lemoore's finest braved long lines, and Secret Service searches at the Doug and Julie Freitas Lemoore farm, before making their way into a welcoming hay-bale-inspired coliseum of sorts.

Those interested in seeing Vice President Mike Pence began arriving at the venue about 11 a.m. and were met with long lines and metal detectors, all organized by the secret service. But many, especially those who arrived early, waited patiently for the vice president to arrive, which he did at about 2:30 p.m.

The historic gathering in Lemoore was organized in part to promote President Donald Trump's America First Policies – and to a more significant extent – the United States Mexico Canada Agreement, a sort of successor to 1994's NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement).

Vice President Mike Pence greets members of the audience after his speech Wednesday in Lemoore.
Vice President Mike Pence greets members of the audience after his speech Wednesday in Lemoore.
Gary Feinstein/Feinsteinfotos

America First Policies is a non-profit that supports policy initiatives that are committed to putting America first, paving the way for national empowerment and mobilizing the millions of Americans who support a more prosperous, safer, and stronger country. America First issues included everything from education reform and securing the border to criminal justice reform and promoting the USMCA.

The historic trade agreement, signed on Nov. 30, 2018, has been updated to include changes for automakers, stricter labor and environmental standards, intellectual property protections, digital trade provisions and according to the administration, the USMCA is friendlier to California and U.S. agriculture. Some sources believe that the USMCA would expand market access for U.S. exports of dairy, poultry, and other agricultural products to Canada.

The United States Congress has yet to begin deliberations on the USMCA.

Once inside the Lemoore agriculturally inspired venue, participants waited patiently – some for hours – as the vice president made his way to the Lemoore event, from a Harris Ranch fundraiser.

Lemoore police officers, Kings County Sheriff's Department, and the California Highway Patrol joined the Secret Service as they provided the vice president with security. The Lemoore Volunteer Fire Department was also in attendance offering a pair of fire trucks, one to transport attendees and the other to proudly fly its American flag.

Pence and his wife Karen arrived at NAS Lemoore about 11 a.m. Wednesday morning. Pence drove to Harris Ranch, and wife Karen was whisked away to meet with Navy spouses. The vice president and his entourage were scheduled to visit Vandenberg Air Force Base later that day.

The enthusiastic and standing room only audience, while it waited, was treated to music, a panel discussion led by America First Policies advisors and numerous agricultural advisors and exports and introductions.

Former Congressman David Valadao, who lost his 2018 re-election bid, helped to introduce Pence, the first vice president ever to visit Lemoore. "NAFTA is over 20 years old," said the former Congressman, beaten by TJ Cox in a razor-thin 2018 election. "It's time to modernize. We need to guarantee that our farmers play on a level playing field. Everyone will benefit from this deal."

Pence then came to the stage dressed somewhat casually in a short-sleeved shirt and khaki pants and started by praising California.

"Hello, California. It is great to be back to the Golden State," he said as the enthusiastic audience erupted. He then told the crowd he was brought "greetings" from the president of the United States. "It's an honor to be here today," he said.

As expected, he boosted Trump's trade pact, telling the crowd that the agreement is a deal that "puts American businesses first."

He immediately brought up a topic on the minds of many Californians in the past week as he cited the recent earthquakes that have caused considerable damage and frayed the nerves of many Californians. "These were serious earthquakes," he said. "The administration is already hard at work with recovery efforts," he assured the large crowd."

He joked that empathized with the farming community. "I've cleaned my share of stalls," he said, referring to his youth working on an Indiana farm. "It got me ready to work in the halls of Congress," getting a laugh from the crowd.

But he praised California as "one of the most productive areas in the world. California farmers have always led the way," he said.

Big crowd welcomes Vice President Mike Pence to Lemoore with open arms