Winnebago Industries Headquarters
Forest City, Iowa
2:12 P.M. CDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, hello, Iowa! (Applause.) It is great to be in Iowa on this beautiful June day, to see all of you out in the sunshine. Would you join me in just thanking Governor Kim Reynolds and her husband, Kevin, for the incredible work that they do for the people of Iowa every day? (Applause.) That’s a great leader.
To Governor Reynolds, to Mayor Barney Ruiter, and to the first woman ever elected to the Iowa House of Representatives, Speaker Linda Upmeyer — (applause) — it is great to be back in the Hawkeye State as this state and America make a transition to greatness! (Applause.)
And I really appreciate you all being here. I appreciate the warm welcome — the especially warm welcome. I really do. And I appreciate your inspiring example at this great company. More on that in a minute.
I mean, to be here at an American company that, for 60 years, has kept America on the move is incredibly inspiring. I know you had to shut down, but you opened right back up. You put people back to work, and you got America back on the road. Let’s hear it for Mike Happe and all the men and women of Winnebago, Iowa. (Applause.)
And before I begin, allow me to bring greetings from another friend of mine — a man who loves the state of Iowa, who’s actually the best friend of American manufacturing has ever had. And he even said the other day that he and Melania might just buy an RV real soon. I bring greetings from the 45th President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump! (Applause.)
It really is a joy to be here on the President’s behalf today, as we begin this transition to greatness. You know, as I stand before you today, I’m proud to report that, after the difficult times through which we have passed as a nation, that today, every state in this country and nearly three-quarters of America’s small businesses have already begun to reopen. (Applause.) We’re opening up America again, and you’re part of that story.
And we’re building on the strong foundation of the first three years of this administration. After we cut taxes, rolled back regulations, fought for free and fair trade, unleashed American energy, supported American ethanol, we saw 7 million jobs created by businesses large and small. And on that foundation, once we started to open up America — you might have seen it a little more than a week ago — in the month of May, the people of America saw the largest one-month increase in job creation in American history — 2.5 million jobs added to our economy. (Applause.)
I mean, I can’t think of a greater example of America’s resilience and strength than those numbers. I mean, the expert economists were all telling us that, in that report, that we would likely lose up to 8 million jobs. And they said that unemployment, Governor, was likely going to go from 14 percent, maybe up to 20 percent. But the American people proved them wrong. And businesses large and small created two and a half million jobs.
And I don’t know if you heard about it yet, but just this morning, after economists predicted that retail sales would increase by maybe 8 percent for the month of May, the American people shattered expectations again. Retail sales in America soared to 17.7 percent — the largest monthly increase ever recorded. (Applause.) America is going back to work! (Applause.) The recovery is on, and we’re going to make our economy strong again — I promise you — on the same agenda that created millions of jobs over the past three years.
And while I’m here in Iowa, I ought to take the opportunity to say thank you for two stalwart leaders who stood with President Trump and I every step of the way when we were rolling back regulations, when we were standing up for American farmers, when we were cutting taxes, supporting our military.
I mean, this state is so well served by the principled conservative leadership of Senator Chuck Grassley and Senator Joni Ernst. Would you mind showing your appreciation for these two outstanding leaders? (Applause.)
They supported our agenda every step of the way of less taxes, less regulation, and strong support every day for the American farmer. I mean, you all saw the effects of the agenda that we’ve advanced right here at Winnebago. I’m told, after the President signed that tax cut a couple of years ago, Winnebago actually donated a million dollars to charity and gave thousands of you employees a well-deserved bonus. It was great corporate leadership.
And on that foundation of growth — that generosity, that compassion, that ingenuity — we’re driving a great American comeback. And as I stand before you today, I promise you: A centerpiece of our transition to greatness is going to be law and order. (Applause.)
Let me say from my heart: What happened to George Floyd was a tragedy and a disgrace. It should have never happened. It shocked the conscience of our nation. There’s no excuse for what happened to George Floyd, but there’s also no excuse for the rioting and looting and violence that has ensued. (Applause.)
Like every American, we cherish our First Amendment. We respect the concerns of peaceful protesters. And we’re going to listen, we’re going to learn, and we’re going to lead. But we’re not going to defund the police. (Applause.)
I mean, you all here at Winnebago know, and people in Iowa know: Most of the men and women who put on the uniform of law enforcement every day are the best of us. They’re the best this country has to offer.
But over the past several weeks, President Trump and I have been taking time, in this challenging national moment, to listen. We sat down with leaders in law enforcement. We’ve sat down with leaders in the African American community.
As the President said today from the Rose Garden, we are one nation. We grieve together and we heal together. And today, after listening and learning, President Trump signed an executive order that will make immediate resources and training available to police departments across America to improve standards for the use of force, de-escalation, and accountability. (Applause.) We’re going to help our police improve.
And I know Governor Kim Reynolds brought about a unanimously passed piece of legislation she signed on the steps of your state capitol just last Friday, creating more oversight and more accountability. And I want to thank you, Governor, for your compassionate leadership, your support for law enforcement, and for bringing Iowa together. (Applause.)
But I can tell you: We’re going to support law enforcement, and we’re going to support our African American communities with resources and reform. But we’re not going to stop there.
As President Trump said in Dallas, we’re going to move an agenda that promotes public safety, but we’re also going to keep moving an agenda that promotes jobs, prosperity, and greater educational opportunities for all our minority communities in cities across this country — (applause) — just like we did over the last three years, which saw the lowest unemployment ever recorded for African Americans; that saw this President create more than 8,000 Opportunity Zones in communities across the country, attracting billions of dollars of investment. We’re going to work to bring jobs and investment to underserved communities.
We’re going to address the healthcare disparities that we learned especially about during the coronavirus pandemic. We’re going to bring market solutions to give our minority communities more choices in their healthcare.
And we’re going to keep fighting every single day to give our African American families and every family the right to choose where their children go to school — a public, private, or parochial school. It’ll be the parents’ choice. (Applause.)
And I’m very confident, even in these challenging times, that we’ll do what Americans have always done: We’ll form a more perfect union. And together, we’ll move our nation forward. Together, we’ll put Americans back to work. And together, we were — we will open up America again. It’s happening before our eyes. (Applause.)
You know, the comeback that we celebrate today would not have been possible without your hard work and determination. But let me also say, it would not have been possible without the leadership of President Donald Trump in partnership with governors and with the American people.
You know, before we had a single coronavirus case in this country, this President shut down all travel from China. It bought us invaluable time to stand up our national response. You know, it’s remarkable to think, at the end of February, when he asked me to lead the White House Coronavirus Task Force, we’d actually performed less than 8,000 coronavirus tests in the entire country. But today, we’re testing roughly 60 times that number every single day. We’ve performed more than 23 million tests — more than anywhere in the world. That’s American ingenuity at work. (Applause.)
And let me take this opportunity to also commend your governor. Governor Kim Reynolds has already tested nearly a quarter of a million people through the Test Iowa program. In her tireless efforts, she’s put the health of Iowans first. And Iowa has been setting the pace — setting the pace in the progress that we’ve made in this pandemic and opening up this great state again. Governor, thank you again for your leadership and your example. (Applause.)
In addition to testing, we’ve been giving states what they need when they need it. That included more than 158 million masks and gowns and face shields and personal protective equipment here in Iowa alone. And thanks to that same ingenuity and hard work of American manufacturing, I’m proud to tell you: No American with coronavirus who ever needed a ventilator was ever denied a ventilator in the United States. That’s a national accomplishment. (Applause.)
And from the outset of this pandemic, the American people made great personal sacrifices to protect the health of their family, their neighbors, and people that they never knew. And our doctors and nurses and healthcare workers and first responders rendered care to our families as if they were their own. Why don’t we give them a round of applause? We’ve got heroes. We’ve got heroes in our hospitals and heroes in our first responders. (Applause.)
But it was millions of Americans — you all made the sacrifices as well — stayed home from work, home from school, away from places of worship so cherished. Some closed down businesses that took a lifetime to build.
And here at Winnebago, you did more than your part. Volunteers from this company, I’m told, made 36,000 masks that were manufactured for hospitals in Iowa. And you’ve also created face shields at this plant and distributed them to healthcare workers and first responders all across the state. Give yourselves a round of applause. That is — that’s America. (Applause.)
And I want to recognize, particularly, a craftsman here I’m told has worked at Winnebago, Iowa, for 25 years. He’s created wooden cabinetry that vehicles are known for, even building prototype designs. But he’s the one who worked with a team of manufacturers. He used, I’m told, a 3D printing machine to make face shields, donated them to local hospitals.
So would you all join me in thanking somebody who volunteered his energy, his creativity, and made a difference in the lives of the people of this state? Where are you, Rod White? Let’s hear it for Rod White. (Applause.) Stand up, Rod. Great job. Great job, Rod. Thank you, Rod. Thanks for bringing your talents to this moment, and thank you all for responding.
You know, because of the hard work — because of the hard work of people like Rod and because of all of you, we met this moment. We met this moment, not just with the whole-of-Amer— whole-of-government response, but we met it with a whole-of-America response. The American people stepped forward, just like you all did. And it’s a demonstration of the resilience and the faith and the resolve of our people.
You know, thanks to the leadership of President Trump and Governor Kim Reynolds and all the good people of the Hawkeye State, I’m proud to report to you, here and across America, we slowed the spread. We flattened the curve. We saved lives. And that’s why we’re opening up America again. You did it. (Applause.)
And as I said at the start, now all 50 states have begun to reopen in a safe and responsible way. You know, even before we got through those 45 Days to Slow the Spread, the President had us issue guidelines to give counsel to governors like yours about how a phased reopening could work, to strengthen the economy while protecting the health of our families and while continuing the practices that keep our families and communities safe.
People are going back to work. They’re going back to worship. We’re getting back to our — to our lives. And the American people should be proud. We’re going back to stores, going back to restaurants. And with the help from the men and women of Winnebago, we’re also enjoying the great outdoors, I’m told, like almost never before. We’re putting American manufacturing back to work.
I know since May 4th, you all have been working hard, you’ve been maintaining your social distancing, doing your daily health checks. You’ve been taking care of your neighbors and your coworkers, you’ve been putting the healthier neighbors first. And it’s a remarkable example that you’ve set here — remarkable example: 5,500 strong men and women of Winnebago are emblematic of manufacturing workers all across America who are the backbone of this economy.
Like a senior machine setup operator who, I’m told, started working here right out of high school so he could save up for trade school. But he realized he liked working here so much he changed his plans and just decided to stay. I’m told his brother, Mark, works here too; so does his wife Carla. And on September 8th, he’ll celebrate 50 years with this incredible company. Would you join me in showing our thanks and admiration to Glen Blazer and his whole family? (Applause.) Where are you, Glen? Stand up. Take a bow, Glen. Fifty years. (Applause.) Congratulations, Glen. Awesome.
I did the math. You know, Glen must have started here after this place has been going about 10 years, and you’ve been here ever since. You made an incredible difference. And you helped set the pace for a company that’s making a great difference, not only in this community, not only in this state, but all across the nation.
You know, I was just told by some of the leadership here at the company that Americans are buying RVs at a pretty rapid pace. In fact, usually, I think we heard that roughly about a third of buyers every year are first-time buyers; it’s pushing more like 50 percent. America is hitting the road in American-made RVs — (applause) — and you all should be proud that you made it happen.
I mean, think about it: This President has said gas prices are low, summer is almost here. What better time to go see America in a great RV?
You know, so it’s great to be back in the Hawkeye State to be able to talk about this great American comeback, but also to just say thank you — and not just on behalf of the President of the United States, but just on behalf of a grateful nation. It’s men and women like you, and companies like this, that are keeping America rolling, are getting America rolling again.
I mean, it was — it was companies in essential industries that literally never stopped, and companies like this one — like Rod did — who transformed themselves to be a part of the solution for our healthcare workers and for our families. In one of the most challenging times in the life of our nation, it was the people who make things and the people who grow things who stepped up. And so I’m proud to be able to be here to pay a debt of gratitude to each and every one of you, just to say thank you for what you’ve done.
You know, it seems like, these days, you turn on the television that it seems like there’s more that divides us these days than has ever been true in my lifetime. But, you know, I actually think otherwise. I think there will always be more that unites us in these United States of America than could ever divide us, and chief among those virtues is a love of freedom and the faith of the American people. (Applause.)
I mean, the way that the people of Iowa and people across this country have stepped up, kept doing the right things — practicing hygiene and social distancing but getting back to work, getting back to their lives, getting back out and supporting all those great, local businesses — affirms my belief that this is a freedom-loving nation. We love our freedom, and we know how to use it with commonsense and care for others.
But I also know, as the President often says, that this is a nation of faith. I hear it everywhere I go. I was at Sally’s Restaurant — try the hamburger. (Laughter.) She opened up today for the first time since the pandemic struck. (Applause.) You know, as I walked around Sally’s Restaurant, I had more than a few people say those words that I hear just about everywhere I go in America, and that is: When people look at you and they lower their voice a little bit and they just say, “I’m praying for you.” And you always know when people mean it, when it comes from their heart.
And so let me just say, as I close, that if you’re — if you’re inclined to bow the head and bend the knee from time to time, I encourage you to do that during these challenging times. (Applause.) And I’m always humbled when people pray for us with those of us that have public responsibilities. But on this one, I — I’d like you to pray for the more than 116,000 families that have lost loved ones. The Bible says, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted,” and I’d just remember them sometime this week in your prayers.
Pray for all of those who have labor to provide care month after month, who’ve looked after our loved ones in hospitals, oftentimes taking the place of family that couldn’t be with them because of the strictures of the contagion of the coronavirus. So pray for our healthcare workers and all those that have been alongside.
And in these times of national challenge, I just also encourage you to pray for America. Pray for all the people of America and claim those ancient words that if His people, who are called by his name, will humble themselves and pray, you can believe that He’ll do like He’s always done in much more challenging times: He’ll hear from heaven, and He’ll heal this land, this one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. (Applause.)
So thank you, Winnebago. Thank you, Iowa. God bless you for all that you have done at this great company. God bless this state, and God bless America in this great American comeback. (Applause.)
2:37 P.M. CDT