Pence goes for the gusto as he lauds Trump and lambastes Clinton | St. Louis Public Radio

Pence goes for the gusto as he lauds Trump and lambastes Clinton

Sep 6, 2016

Buoyed by the latest polls, Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence exuberantly told local supporters that Americans are embracing Donald Trump’s message of change.

Speaking before a packed ballroom Tuesday in Chesterfield, Pence sought to promote Trump’s personality as well as his policies. “He’s a distinctly American leader,” Pence said, with a soft chuckle. “He is his own man and he’s a doer, he’s a builder. He’s a doer in a game usually reserved for talkers.”

In contrast, Pence contended that Democrat Hillary Clinton “represents everything this country is tired of.”

He asserted that she’s offering “a stale agenda’’ that has hurt the United States at home and abroad.

Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence speaks Tuesday afternoon to a crowd of supporters in Chesterfield.
Credit Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Pence made clear that the GOP ticket is heartened by new poll numbers that show Clinton and Trump neck-and-neck, or Trump slightly ahead, after weeks of Clinton holding a sizable lead.

Pence's visit in Missouri, which included a stop in Springfield, Mo., appeared aimed at energizing the party's base. Springfield and Chesterfield are generally seen as GOP strongholds.

Pence made note of Trump's stronger poll numbers in Missouri, and tied his improved standing – nationally and in the state – to news reports of more Clinton controversies, and more cases of world leaders downgrading the United States’ place in the world.

Says Trump will demand more world respect

Last weekend’s disrespectful behavior by leaders in China and the Philippines, he said, was further proof that actions by Clinton, as secretary of state, and by President Barack Obama have “weakened America’s place in the world.”

Among other things, Pence contended that the Obama administration’s actions in Iraq – notably to “precipitously and recklessly to withdraw all our forces from Iraq” – were a key factor in the rise of ISIS and other terrorist groups. He said Clinton shared the blame.

But Pence’s chief line of attack against Clinton, which produced repeated cheers, was that she lacked the judgment, ethics and integrity to be president. He hammered at the controversies involving her old emails, which touched off a few calls from the audience to  “lock her up.”

Neither Pence nor his audience appeared swayed by the FBI’s decision not to indict her.  Former U.S. Attorney Catherine Hanaway, who recently lost a GOP contest to be the party’s nominee for Missouri governor, fed that narrative with her opening speech in which she asserted that the only “oath of office"’ that Clinton should have to face is “before a grand jury.”

Mary Malik, of Ballwin, waves her scarf in the air as Catherine Hanaway speaks.
Credit Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Quipped Pence: “I’m experiencing what I call ‘Clinton corruption fatique.’ “

Meanwhile, Pence contended that Trump – who has faced ethics issues of his own – was actually the better principled of the two major-party nominees. “He will uphold the highest levels of integrity in the highest office in the land, and his only special interest will be you,” Pence said.

Renews promise to complete wall at nation's southern border

But arguably Pence’s strongest applause line came when he declared, “We’re going to end illegal immigration once and for all, and the cost jobs and lower wages that are driven by it. We’re going to build a wall and Mexico is going to pay for it.”

Demonstrator Keith Rose is pushed and dragged away by attendees after holding up a sign in support of LGBTQ rights during GOP vice presidential nominee Mike Pence's speech.
Credit Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The only incident marring the rally came when Pence praised conservative icon Phyllis Schlafly, who died Monday at the age of 92. A gay-rights demonstrator shouted epithets about Schlafly, prompting a clash with some in the audience before police removed him.

Pence laid out Trump's key policy planks, including his promises to slash taxes and put conservatives on the Supreme Court who would oppose abortion and support gun rights. 

Pence emphasized that protecting the makeup of the Supreme Court, which has been short a member since last summer's death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, should a top priority of all Republicans.

Trump, his running mate said, is the right man for the job.

“You have nominated a man for president who never quits,” Pence said. “He’s a fighter, he’s a winner.”

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