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VP Pence to campaign in Tucson, Mesa next week

Vice President Mike Pence will travel to Arizona to accept endorsements from police and Mormon groups, about six weeks after the Republican called off a campaign stop here and delayed a trip for a day when eight Secret Service agents tested positive for COVID-19.

Pence is set to be in Arizona again on August 11, to accept the endorsement of the Arizona Police Association in Tucson and take part in a campaign event with the Latter-day Saints for Trump Coalition in Mesa.

Details about Pence's travel plans have not been released.

The White House said the Republican will speak in Tucson ""reinforcing the Trump administration’s continued support of the men and women serving in law enforcement and their unwavering commitment to never defund the police."

The Trump campaign has attempted to tie Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden to left-wing calls to "defund" police departments. Biden has rejected those proposals. Even in the wake of revelations about the recent deaths of two men in police custody here, the Tucson City Council, which is all Democratic, last month voted overwhelmingly to increase the Police Department's budget, rather than transfer funds to other social service agencies.

Democrats called Pence's visit a "cheap political stunt."

The Arizona Police Association is a group of police unions and fraternal groups composed of officers in departments around the state.

The group issued an endorsement of Trump's re-election campaign last week, saying that "the Trump administration has done more for law enforcement than any other in the history of our republic."

The APA's statement praised Trump for reinstating "the use of surplus military equipment that has saved countless lives."

"A Biden administration will defund the police and eliminate qualified immunity which protects police and law enforcement from frivolous and costly lawsuits," the group claimed.

Democrats used Pence's plans as a peg to criticize the administration.

"Nothing Mike Pence says at his tele-rally today or his photo-op next week will change the fact that his boss's failed pandemic response has tanked our economy and forced millions of Arizonans out of work," said Matt Grodsky, a spokesman for the Arizona Democratic Party. "These cheap political stunts won't distract Arizonans from Donald Trump's disastrous mismanagement of the coronavirus crisis, which has hurt millions of Arizonans and left our most vulnerable communities in the dust. Arizona families desperately need economic relief, a national testing strategy, and a real plan to contain the virus from the White House — not more empty promises from so-called leaders who are putting politics ahead of public health."

Pence had been scheduled to make a campaign swing through Arizona in late June, but cut back his schedule as the coronavirus pandemic spiked in the state and his own security detail included agents who were diagnosed with the viral infection.

That cancellation came when 1,579 Arizonans had died from COVID-19. Tuesday, state health officials announced that 3,845 people in the state have died of the disease — with 66 new deaths and 1,008 new confirmed cases reported Tuesday morning. More than 180,000 Arizona residents have been confirmed to have contracted coronavirus.

Pence instead met with Gov. Doug Ducey, praising his handling of the outbreak.

For his part, Ducey is set to travel to Washington, D.C., this week, meeting in the Oval Office with the president on Wednesday.

Pence last visited Southern Arizona in October, joining U.S. Sen. Martha McSally at series of private events in Green Valley, Phoenix and Scottsdale, including a fundraiser and speech at Caterpillar's testing center south of Tucson to promote the Trump administration's United States-Mexico-Canada trade agreement.

That junket forced the closure of Interstate 19 for an afternoon so that Pence could visit the facility.

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Previously, Pence came to Southern Arizona to visit Nogales in April 2019 for what local officials called a "photo op" as the vice president toured the border wall near the border city.

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White House

Pence and Ducey on July 1 in Phoenix.