Pence in Manchester: Trump maintains admiration for the little guy

  • Republican vice presidential candidate Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and his wife Karen arrive for a town hall style meeting at the Executive Court Banquet Facility Thursday Aug. 18, 2016 in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole) Jim Cole

Monitor staff
Published: 8/18/2016 11:53:11 PM

Campaigning in Manchester on Thursday, Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence portrayed Donald Trump as a family man who – despite his wealth – harbors a deep admiration and respect for the country’s everyday workers.

Trump’s campaign has been characterized by his willingness to make provocative statements, including during a high-profile feud with the family of a Muslim-American soldier killed in action. But Pence, the governor of Indiana, insisted: “To know him when the Klieg lights are off and the cameras are off is to know a man who’s never forgotten.

“He’s never forgotten the men and women who built this country and build it to this day,” Pence said.

In a town hall-style event at the Executive Court Banquet Facility, Pence delivered a 30-minute speech and took a handful of questions. He initiated separate ovations for police and veterans and paused to acknowledge the service record of questioners who wore military emblems.

Pence said Trump, too, “has a special sense of obligation to the men and women who wear the uniform of law enforcement.”

“I see it everywhere I go when we’re traveling together.
. . . Even if we’re running late, he’s just stopping if he sees someone wearing a uniform, and he stops and shakes their hand and you see the connection and the bond there,” Pence said.

It’s that admiration, Pence said, that prompted Trump to call out the people “peddling a narrative about police officers as a force for racism and racial division in this country.” The billionaire businessman similarly takes time to recognize the people who work for him, Pence said.

“When you’re with Donald Trump off the campaign trail, you see that, you know, he’ll be walking in one of his places of business, he’ll stop and talk to the people laying the bricks and working the grounds as quickly and readily as he stops and talks to men and women in suits and ties,” Pence said.

That image is a departure from the criticisms of Trump that say he’s concerned foremost with his own reputation and is quick to hold grudges against the people who publicly challenge him.

Pence turned the audience’s attention to the TV monitors behind him midway through his speech, where he showed a clip filmed this week of a CNN reporter pressing Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan on whether she sees Hillary Clinton as honest and trustworthy. In it, Hassan three times praises other aspects of Clinton without addressing the question.

“Now, a day later, I guess your governor came out and said she thought” Clinton was trustworthy. “But, Gov. Hassan, let me help you out: The answer’s no.”

He took that opportunity to praise incumbent U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who’s running for re-election against Hassan, saying, “And that’s why we need Kelly Ayotte back in the U.S. Senate.” He also lauded the state’s Republican congressman, Frank Guinta, as a “great conservative.”

Pence emotionally recalled the story of how his family came to the United States, starting with his grandfather, and remarked that he and Trump “have a great deal in common on this point,” although Trump doesn’t frequently address this stump-speech staple.

“His grandfather immigrated to this country, so did mine. His father was a self-made man, so was mine. I mean, other than a whole bunch of zeroes, we’ve got the same story,” he said, in a nod to Trump’s wealth.

The questions from audience members asked Pence only to affirm common Republican principles: He believes in local control of education, not Common Core; he intends to reform the Veterans Administration; and he supports voter ID laws to curb fraud.

In closing, Pence asked voters to communicate their support for Trump to friends and family, saying the integrity of their endorsements far outweighs negative coverage in the news media, which he said is aligned with the Democratic Party.

“I really do believe Donald Trump has made a connection to the American people,” he said. “He’s given a voice to the aspirations and frustrations of the American people more effectively than any American leader since my hero, Ronald Reagan.”

(Nick Reid can be reached at 369-3325, or on Twitter at @NickBReid.)

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