WILMINGTON — On Tuesday afternoon, with exactly three weeks left before the Nov. 8 election, Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence made his second stop in the area since August.
Donald Trump’s running mate and the current governor of Indiana was more than an hour late to the rally at the Coastline Convention Center in downtown Wilmington, but hundreds of people stuck it out in the standing-room only conference room to hear him speak.
During his 30-minute speech, Pence hit on many points and cracked several jokes along the way, including one about his tardiness to the event.
“I apologize for being late,” Pence said, before taking a jab at his Democratic counterpart’s many interruptions during their one and only debate. “I stopped for some lunch, and Tim Kaine called and interrupted me seven times.”
Pence went on to praise his running mate’s performance in the last presidential debate.
“From where I’m sitting, Donald Trump won that debate,” said Pence, adding that he believes Trump will also win this Wednesday’s debate. “Donald Trump’s vision for America won that debate.”
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was a favorite target of Pence, as was current president Barack Obama. Pence criticized the “weak and feckless foreign policy of this administration,” referring to Clinton’s time as Obama’s Secretary of State during his first term.
“The world is more dangerous today than the day Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton took office,” Pence said. “[They’ve] weakened America’s place in the world.”
According to Pence, the number of troops is lower than it’s been in decades, and the navy is smaller than it’s been since the 1960s. That, claims Pence, has led to things such as the situation in Benghazi, Libya in 2012 under Clinton’s tenure and Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran.
“When Donald Trump is president of the United States, we won’t be paying ransom to terrorist states,” Pence said, calling Iran the biggest terrorism-supporting state in the world. “It’s not just bad judgment, it’s bad policy … Bottom line, we cannot have four more years of apologizing to our enemies and abandoning our friends.”
While Pence offered no specific solutions on how to defeat terrorism, he made more concrete promises about how a Trump administration would tackle domestic policy and the economy.
“We’re going to cut taxes across the board. [Trump’s] going to repeal every single Obama executive order,” Pence said to loud cheers. “We’ll repeal Obamacare lock, stock and barrel.”
The Indiana governor also talked about jobs and trade.
“On Day One of the Trump-Pence administration, the war on coal comes to a halt,” said Pence before referring to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal championed by Obama. “We’re going to put American workers first … We’re going to get rid of this TPP thing.”
Pence ended with a call to action to North Carolina voters in a battleground state that is crucial for a Trump victory.
“If you have one of those red [“Make America Great Again”] hats, just don’t take it off for three weeks,” Pence said. “Do not rest, do not relent over the next 21 days until you make sure that North Carolina does its part to make Donald Trump the 45th president of the United States of America.”
Election day is Tuesday, Nov. 8. One-stop absentee voting in North Carolina begins Thursday.