BILLINGS — Vice President Mike Pence pushed a combination of tough law enforcement and treatment for addicts to combat Montana’s methamphetamine crisis, during a Wednesday visit to the state that was also aimed at raising campaign cash for fellow Republican Sen. Steve Daines.
The vice president heard harrowing tales of violence and child abuse linked to meth as he spoke with treatment providers, law enforcement, tribal officials and recovering addicts in Billings.
They stressed that meth has emerged as a far bigger problem in Montana than the opioids prevalent elsewhere in the nation and noted that meth is now the driving force behind many robberies, other violent crimes and most child neglect cases.
Authorities in Montana have struggled to contain meth-related crimes, although they recently announced they’ve at least slowed the sharp increases in violence seen over the past few years in Billings, the state’s largest city.
Pence said those efforts must be paired with programs that help people break the cycle of addiction. He pledged the administration’s support in confronting the issue.
“We’re gonna’ keep the help coming,” the vice president said. “We can turn this around in Montana and we will for the sake of families and our nation.”
He was set to attend a private fundraiser for Daines at the offices of Lonewolf Energy.
The oil company’s founder, Talbert “Trent” Sizemore, has long been a financial supporter of Daines, who is up for re-election next year.
On Thursday, Pence was scheduled to visit Yellowstone National Park with Interior Secretary David Bernhardt.
The trip is aimed at building support for the administration’s proposal to rebuild national park system infrastructure using money generated through government oil and gas lease sales.