"This isn't really a choice between the health of our citizens and a growing economy," said Pence. "It's a choice between health and health, because a growing economy, which you're beginning to see come back here in Georgia, contributes to the physical and emotional well-being of the American people."
The state's Democratic leaders were critical of that mentality in a virtual news conference ahead of Pence's late morning arrival at Dobbins Air Reserve Base.
Trump, Pence and Kemp "at every turn have contradicted public health experts, and put big corporations ahead of our working families," said state Sen. Nikema Williams, the chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Georgia. "These men are full of nothing but lies and broken promises -- and this crisis has been made so much worse because they are in power."
Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden's campaign said the pandemic has exposed systemic "racial inequities" plaguing Georgia that he plans to address if elected.
"Right now, Georgians need decisive actions from transparent and empathetic leaders, but instead today they will get a photo-op," said Symone Sanders, a Biden senior strategist.
Pence's visit drew dozens of supporters, who stood outside of Star Cafe and Waffle House headquarters, waving signs and chanting "four more years."
His motorcade -- which slowed traffic along I-75, even though far fewer were on the roads compared to a normal Memorial Day weekend -- made a previously unannounced stop at Ravi Zacharias' ministry near Alpharetta. The evangelist died Tuesday. An aide said the two men were close.
Friday's events also provided a dash of political theater. Pence was accompanied on Air Force Two by U.S. Sen Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., who's facing fierce competition for her seat this fall. They were met on the tarmac by Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., Loeffler's bitter political rival. The two spoke and shook hands as Pence slowly greeted other elected officials there.
(Staff writer Greg Bluestein contributed to this report.)
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