Vice President Mike Pence to tour Merit Medical in Utah visit on Thursday

Washington • Vice President Mike Pence will tour Merit Medical Systems in South Jordan on Thursday and speak about the benefits of President Donald Trump’s proposed U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, a White House official said Monday.

Pence will visit the medical device company and then offer public remarks, according to the official.

The visit is part of a Western swing by the vice president who will also stop by Roswell, N.M., to also tout the trade deal.

He will spend the night in Salt Lake City on Wednesday.

The Trump administration is pushing Congress to ratify the trade agreement, which it says will “benefit millions of jobs and give workers the level playing field to compete and win on the world stage.”

“Under President Trump, the administration has been working hard to roll back regulations, cut taxes, and negotiate better and fairer trade deals — opening up opportunities for American exports as never before,” the White House official said.

Pence has been a more popular figure in Utah than Trump, who won the state in the 2016 election but by less than a majority of voters over Democrat Hillary Clinton and independent Evan McMullin.

Merit was founded and still is led by Fred Lampropoulos, recipient of this year’s “Giant in our City” award from the Salt Lake Chamber. He is a lifelong Republican and former candidate for governor.

Lampropoulos said late Monday that he was excited to have the vice president visit and talk about something that impacts his international business.

“I think it’s a great honor to have the conversation about the United States-Mexico-Canadian accord to talk about free trade,” Lampropoulos said. “We have a big business in Mexico. We have over a thousand employees there. And you know we have an office in Mexico City and we have a distribution and direct sales force up in Canada. So the whole idea of trade and materials moving is pretty important to the company.”

Lampropoulos wouldn’t say when he got the call from the White House about the vice president’s visit but noted that the company also hosted Rep. Ben McAdams, Utah’s lone Democrat in Congress, on Monday with 250 employees attending.

The chief executive added that the president’s trade deals have a trade-off — the ongoing dispute with China has been blamed for a possible economic blowback in America — but in the end, he’s happy to have Trump taking action.

“You know there are good things and I think bad things whenever you have these things go on,” Lampropoulos said. “But, you know, I think very candidly it’s about time somebody spoke up. I mean we have a lot of things that we don’t talk about that affect trade and affect us our competitiveness in various nations and no one ever does anything about it.”

The vice president had initially planned to tour and speak at the headquarters of Overstock.com, the Deseret News reported last week, but that idea was scuttled after the company’s top executive publicly said that he’s had a romantic relationship with alleged Russian spy Maria Butina.

Overstock’s CEO Patrick Byrne said he was acting as an informant for the FBI at the time of the relationship. Butina is the only Russian national who has been charged and arrested in the investigation of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election to help elect Trump and ding Clinton’s hopes.