IN Focus: Gov. Pence returns from Japan

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Gov. Mike Pence is returning from a week-long trade mission to Japan, and while he's coming back to more good news about the state's economy, he's still facing a strong challenge on the campaign trail ahead of next year's election.

In the video above, FOX59's Dan Spehler recaps the governor's trip and this week's other top political stories, including more promising jobs numbers for the state, with Indiana's unemployment rate falling again in the latest jobs report.

“Over the past twelve months, Indiana has added more than 60,000 private sector jobs, and our unemployment rate continues to fall," said Gov. Pence in a written statement. "Indiana's labor force participation rate continues to outpace the national average even as unemployment decreases, indicating that Hoosiers continue to be encouraged by our growing economy. Rest assured that my administration will continue to pursue policies that make Indiana a state that works.”

While the economic news has been mostly good for Pence, the political environment in Indiana remains tense heading into next year's gubernatorial election.

Gov. Pence has been targeted in recent ads, blaming his administration for the state's infrastructure problems.

Pence's campaign has also responded to reports this week suggesting the governor's internal polling numbers have been flailing.

In a written statement, campaign spokesman Robert Vane said:

“The poll numbers attributed to the Pence campaign as internal that were reported by certain media outlets on Thursday are not true. The numbers that are true are an unemployment rate below 5 percent, more than 100,000 new private sector jobs added during Governor Pence’s tenure and more Hoosiers working today than ever before. This week's announcements from Japan are further evidence that Governor Pence’s job creation policies are working. Those are the numbers that are true and those are the numbers that matter to Hoosiers.”

Democrats also seized on those reports, with party chairman John Zody issuing the following statement on Thursday:

“The abysmally low approval numbers reportedly coming from the Pence campaign’s own polling data should come as no surprise because time and again, Governor Pence has placed his ideology ahead of the overall well-being of everyday Hoosiers. In just one term, he has managed to place Indiana’s coveted reputations – ‘Hoosier Hospitality’ and ‘Crossroads of America’ in jeopardy, and now Hoosiers are fed up and want someone better. And they’re right – Indiana deserves to have a governor who will solve problems for Hoosiers and help our state reach its full potential. This person is not Mike Pence.”

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