The Republican ticket will heap even more attention on Northeastern Minnesota voters when Vice President Mike Pence campaigns in Hibbing on Monday, eight days before the Nov. 3 general election.

Pence will be making his second visit to the Northland in 59 days when he arrives at Range Regional Airport.

Pence spoke in Duluth on Aug. 28, and is expected to meet supporters at 1 p.m. Monday. President Donald Trump and his son, Donald Trump Jr., have also made campaign stops since the last time Pence was in the northern Minnesota.

Pence is also not the only Trump administration dignitary appearing locally Monday.

National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien will be in Duluth to meet Air National Guard members and conduct a roundtable with U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber on mining expansion and the importance of domestic supply chains for critical minerals.

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O’Brien heralded the day by talking with the News Tribune over the weekend. He railed on China, defended President Donald Trump’s foreign policy record, and addressed a COVID-19 vaccine.

“It’s absolutely critical we have this domestic supply, and I think we’ve seen a good turnaround in the Iron Belt since President Trump took office,” O’Brien said, despite the mining and steel industries being slowed by the coronavirus pandemic.

O’Brien referenced 25% tariffs on Chinese steel products, but said it’s not the only important aspect characterizing the burgeoning clash between world powers. For decades, U.S. politicians waited for China to raise a middle class and become more democratic, but it didn't happen, O'Brien said, calling China more totalitarian than ever.

“People are starting to realize the threat China poses to our manufacturing, the threat China poses to our country from a military standpoint, and the threat China poses to us from a data standpoint,” O’Brien said, describing how the country is building profiles on American citizens through apps like TikTok and WeChat. “We’ve got to be very careful, and steel dumping is a big part of it, but it’s only one part of it, and it’s been ignored for years and years.”

On the topic of precious metals mining, O’Brien made the argument that technology will guide the development of proposed mines on the Iron Range.

“(I)t’s not regulation that’s made the environment better — it’s technology,” he said, overlooking the successes of an Environmental Protection Agency created under Republican President Richard Nixon.

“We’ve got to make sure the companies use the best procedures,” O’Brien said. “As we do that we’re going to have clean air and clean water, but at the same time we’re going to be able to get the minerals we need to support jobs and manufacturing in this country, which is also important.”

Like the president often does, O’Brien had grievances with the media and said it fails to recognize Trump’s achievements, citing recent peace and trade deals brokered between Israel and three Arab countries: Sudan, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. He also noted the killing of terrorist Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the defeat of ISIS, and the peace agreement between the U.S. and the Taliban.

“We haven’t had an American death in combat in Afghanistan since February,” O’Brien said. “These are major, major accomplishments that under any other president would have been amplified and extolled. Unfortunately, the news media doesn’t want to pay attention to these great achievements. They’re not just achievements for President Trump — they’re achievements for the United States.”

Stauber’s challenger in the 8th Congressional District race, Democratic-Farmer-Labor nominee Quinn Nystrom, called on Stauber to avoid the Hibbing event following his meeting with O’Brien.

“This rally is going to be a super-spreader event,” Nystrom’s campaign said. “For the health and safety of Minnesota’s 8th District, Congressman Stauber must set an example for the state and stay home."

On the topic of COVID-19, O’Brien spoke about a vaccine, saying there are five or six candidates in development. He added that Congress appropriated the money to pre-buy the vaccine in an effort to accelerate its rollout. Any American who wants the vaccine will be able to get it, he said, using a massive distribution campaign led by the military and local public health services.

“This (virus) came from China, and it’s not going to be the Chinese that saves the world,” O’Brien said. “It’s going to be the United States.”