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Vice President Pence hits Chicago Friday: Roskam fundraiser, Rauner’s role

Vice President Mike Pence is introduced by Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds before speaking on Wednesday, July 11, 2018, at Rockwell Collins in Cedar Rapids Iowa. | Rodney White/The Des Moines Register via AP

Vice President Mike Pence hits Chicago on Friday to raise money for Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., facing a tough re-election race, and to tout President Donald Trump’s tax policies at an event, the Sun-Times has learned, where he will be introduced by GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner.

Usually a Republican governor introducing a Republican Vice President wouldn’t be worthy of highlighting in the first paragraph. In this case it is, because Rauner has gone to some effort – until lately – to distance himself from President Donald Trump.

What’s changed? Rauner needs to repair relations with the Republican base in Illinois as he battles J.B. Pritzker, the Democratic nominee for governor.

Let me do some explaining about why Air Force Two will be landing at O’Hare on Friday.

• First, some biography. Pence is no stranger to Chicago in general and the South Side in particular. Nancy Cawley, his mother, and Edward Pence, his father, grew up on the South Side.

“The bond that my little family feels to this city is real and it’s personal,” Pence told the City Club of Chicago when he spoke on Dec. 16, 2014 and talked about his roots at 55th and Honore. His grandfather drove a bus in Chicago for about 40 years.

• Now, back to Friday. Pence is combining government and political business on this swing. He’s been on the road promoting the Trump tax agenda. He was in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Wednesday, lavishing praise on Hawkeye Republicans.

“I’m telling you, Iowa is back. America is back. And we’re just getting started at getting this economy growing again,” Pence said Wednesday.

Pence’s portfolio includes boosting the Trump tax cuts. On Thursday, he is doing a series of interviews with regional press outlets in Washington.

• After Air Force Two touches down at O’Hare Airport, Pence will headline the fundraiser for Roskam, facing a major challenge from Democratic nominee Sean Casten to retain his suburban 6th Congressional District seat.

However, Roskam, a member of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, who strongly backed Trump’s tax package, won’t be at the fundraiser, which is expected to attract top Republican donors. His spokesman, Veronica Vera, said Roskam will stay in Washington because the House has votes scheduled.

Roskam is doing his own political balancing act.

In a district Hillary Clinton won in 2016, perhaps he doesn’t see an upside of a photo of him and Pence at a forum talking up the Trump tax policies. If Roskam showed up, somehow video from this event would be used against him in an ad.

• Next is the tax event at the Westin O’Hare, 6100 N. River Rd. in suburban Rosemont. It takes place at 12:30 p.m. Chicago time and is open to the public. Doors open at 10:30 a.m.

• As in Iowa, Pence in Rosemont will headline a discussion on Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 sponsored by a group call America First Policies.

The name of the organization doesn’t tell you what it really is – a nonprofit founded by former Trump White House and campaign staffers to advance Trump’s agenda. Former President Barack Obama also had a related outside group bolster his policies when he was in the White House. Today it is known as Organizing for Action and it is based in Chicago.

Nick Ayers, who before he became Pence’s Chief of Staff, helped launch America First Policies.

But there’s another important connection. Ayers ran Rauner’s 2014 Illinois gubernatorial campaign.

Before Rauner introduces Pence and the vice president speaks, there will be a panel discussion about Trump and taxes with Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., and Nicole Wolter, the president and CEO of HM Manufacturing in Wauconda.