This election season, the American people are facing not a choice between parties or candidates, but between “two futures,” Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence told a throng of hundreds Wednesday at the La Plata County Fairgrounds.
“Donald Trump will rebuild our military, restore our arsenal of democracy and hunt down and destroy ISIS,” the Indiana governor told an audience of locals and visitors.
The presidential nominee, Pence said, “literally embodies” American values as “a rugged individualist, someone who is optimistic, independent and willing to fight every day for what he believes in.”
Often reaping cheers and chants, Pence’s 30-minute speech focused on national security, immigration, American values and bringing jobs back to American people.
“They say ‘this economy is the best we can do,’” Pence said of President Barack Obama’s administration. “It’s not. That’s the best they can do.”
Pence said the Trump administration would “get rid of death taxes once and for all,” and, as Pence did as Indiana’s governor, instate a moratorium on any new measures that would place red tape on businesses, and repeal Obama’s executive orders.
He riled cheers from the crowd when he promised, under Trump’s leadership, conservative Supreme Court justices, an end to Obama’s health care plan and an end to the “war on coal” in lieu of an “all-of-the-above” policy on natural resources.
“When Donald Trump is negotiator-in-chief, we’re going to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, get out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and negotiate trade deals that put American jobs in the American economy first,” he said.
Pence also took shots at Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton, who he said lost the second debate to Trump “hands down,” and would do so again at Wednesday night’s third and final presidential debate before the election.
He condemned her proposals for $1 trillion in tax increases and a “war on American energy” that is stunting the economy.
“It’s not like it’s a fair fight,” Pence said. “The national media does half of Hillary Clinton’s work for her. But Donald Trump is still winning hearts and minds every day. The American people are talking while the mainstream media ignores an avalanche of scandals.”
The crowd interjected chants of “lock her up” as Pence maligned Clinton for her email controversy, her role in Benghazi and her foreign and trade policies.
Under the Obama administration, America’s “allies are less secure and enemies more emboldened,” Pence said, and Clinton’s tenure would mean more of the same.
“History teaches us that weakness arouses evil,” he said. “We know a weak and feckless foreign policy has emboldened our competitors and adversaries. Hillary Clinton has been at the very center of it.”
Pence also touted security on the home front, noting that the Fraternal Order of Police, a 330,000-member law enforcement union, has endorsed the Republican presidential nominee.
“It seems more than ever when tragedy happens in the wake of law enforcement action, too many in the media and too many in politics are willing to use a broad brush to demean those who put their lives on the line every day,” Pence said. “Trump will support law enforcement at every level and provide the resources they need to protect our families and go home safe to theirs.”
Trump-Pence supporters young and old at Wednesday’s rally were impressed with the vice-presidential candidate’s speech. People began lining up about 8:30 a.m. and several hundred were in the line – which stretched to Main Avenue, where protesters held signs – when entry began a little after 10 a.m. Everyone attending passed through metal detectors, and bags were searched.
“Mike Pence has a politician’s sense, Trump doesn’t,” said Durango native Sanlyn Maslak, 20. “He (Pence) knows what he’s doing. Trump has run a business. The two together is a good thing.”
Maslak said as a woman, she takes no offense at Trump’s history of derogatory remarks about women, including remarks he made in a tape that surfaced this month in which Trump says his celebrity enables him to grab and kiss women.
“I’ve heard women and men say way worse,” Maslak said. “I’ve said things I shouldn’t have said. We all have.”
“It’s more about the issues than the individual,” added Perry Hensley, who made a trip from Cortez to attend the event. Hensley said he supports Trump and Pence because the two represent small government and Second Amendment rights.
As the election looms, Pence exited with a call to action for voters in Durango and throughout Colorado to elect Trump president:
“When you do that, we’ll make America great again.”
email@example.comHerald staff writers Shane Benjamin and Alejandro Alverez contributed to coverage of the rally.