• WisPolitics

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

 10:56 PM 

Pence stands firm with Trump in Waukesha speech

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, in his first solo speech as Donald Trump’s vice presidential running mate, pushed repealing the 1954 Johnson Amendment.

That amendment prevents tax-exempt organizations, primarily religious, from supporting or opposing political candidates.

"I want to commend Reince Priebus because repealing the Johnson amendment is in the Republican party platform," Pence said.  "Donald Trump says we need to change this law. Donald Trump will restore freedom of speech to people of faith across this country."

Pence, during the speech in Waukesha, linked Democrats to world unrest, saying, "History teaches us that weakness arouses evil."

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence in Waukesha

Referencing the killing of a Catholic priest by ISIS and the recent attempted coup in Turkey, Pence said, "I believe that Hillary Clinton's and Barack Obama's foreign policy of leading from behind, moving red lines, feigning resets with Russia and the rise, rule and reign of ISIS is a testament to this truth of history."

Pence spoke to a lukewarm crowd at the Waukesha County Expo Center on Wednesday night, drawing only smatterings of applause. He got the most applause and cheers when he expressed support for law enforcement and the military, but even then, many members of the crowd kept their hands in their pockets or their arms crossed instead of clapping or waving signs.

Local GOP officials put the crowd at around 800.

But various accounts from media and conservative commentators estimated much lower numbers of attendees.

Pence tried hard to appeal to Wisconsinites, telling them Gov. Scott Walker "is the best governor in the U.S." and saying he's proud to be "a Scott Walker Republican."

He gave a shout-out to U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, all of whom took the stage earlier to promote the Trump-Pence ticket.

"This is a great,” Pence said, “great state Legislature that has put Wisconsin on the map with the great leadership of Scott Walker and I appreciate the folks that are here."

Pence painted Trump as a strong leader, adding, "What's been most missing in Washington, D.C., is leadership."

He repeated many of the same phrases from his July 20 speech at the Republican National Convention, such as "Donald Trump gets it" and "He's the genuine article."

Pence said he respects Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Tim Kaine, of Virginia, but said the "contrast is pretty dramatic."

Pence said Kaine imposed tax increases in Virginia, whereas Pence said he enacted tax relief in Indiana.

"Kaine took a run at getting funding for roads and bridges but never quite got that done,” he said. “But as governor of the state of Indiana, we have invested more than $2.5 billion in roads and bridges."

Pence did not speak to reporters afterward; nor did Gov. Scott Walker, who introduced Pence as one of the "most honorable" people he knows in politics and said he'd long "admired him from afar."

Walker mostly recounted his own successes when he took the stage, reminding attendees that "Conservative reforms work."

Walker called Pence a "Reagan conservative" but bragged that "as brave as (Pence) is," New York Sen. Charles Schumer once tweeted that Pence was a "Scott Walker Republican."

"Mike Pence is one of us," Walker said. "He is a proud, full-spectrum conservative."

But like earlier speakers in the night -- including Sensenbrenner, Fitzgerald and Vos -- Walker instead emphasized the need to stop Hillary Clinton from becoming president.

"My conscience says I'm not going to let Hillary Clinton dominate the Supreme Court for the next 20 or 30 years," said Walker, adding when people ask him how he can trust Trump to choose future justices from a conservative list, he responds, "Look at his first pick (for vice president).

Earlier speakers also said little about Pence, focusing their remarks on Democrats and Clinton.

 "Americans have had enough," said RNC Chair Reince Priebus.

"We know that Donald Trump and Mike Pence will get ISIS under control, Priebus said, adding "Kill them before they kill us."

Priebus tried to stir some of the same fervor that Walker had enjoyed at the same Expo Center site when he announced his presidential run last summer to thousands of boisterous supporters who filled the hall to overflowing,

"In Wisconsin, you have done it time and time again," said Priebus. But when introducing Walker, Priebus faltered.  He started to say, "We don't have a better governor" then hesitated, remembering the night's key speaker, and added, "Although we've got two great governors -- I have to careful about this introduction."

-- By Kay Nolan

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