Leland, N.C. — As if it wasn't apparent already, Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence made very clear Wednesday why North Carolina has become a favorite stop on the campaign trail this year.
"The path to the White House goes straight through North Carolina," Pence told a small crowd at Manufacturing Materials, a fabrication business outside Wilmington.
Pence was in Raleigh three weeks ago. Running mate Donald Trump has visited the state several times recently, most recently in Charlotte last week. Even Trump's daughter-in-law made a campaign stop in Raleigh on Tuesday.
"At the end of the day, this election is really about a stronger America at home and abroad," Pence said. "It's about getting this economy running again for every American and having America stand tall in the world once again."
Manufacturing Materials was the third North Carolina business the Indiana governor visited on Wednesday, following stops at Charlotte Pipe and Foundry and Carolina Marine Terminal in Wilmington. He said such businesses – and the national economy – will struggle if Democrat Hillary Clinton is elected president because she will only continue the policies of President Barack Obama's administration.
"More taxes, more regulation, more spending, more Obamacare," he said. "Donald Trump and I know the pathway to growth is not more taxes, more regulation, more Obamacare. It's freeing up the pent-up power of the American economy by lowering taxes, rolling back red tape and repealing Obamacare lock, stock and barrel."
Trump's policies on immigration and foreign trade also would create jobs in the U.S., Pence said.
He blasted Clinton's and Obama's foreign policy record, saying it has weakened America's standing in the world and emboldened terrorists, and he called for a special prosecutor to investigate the dealings of the Clinton Foundation, which has become the focus of "pay-to-play politics" allegations because of the large number of foreign donors who were granted access to Clinton while she served as secretary of state.
"American people are sick and tired of politics that benefits the favored few," Pence said, adding that Trump's "only special interest will be you, the American people, each and every day."
Philip and Suzan Jones of Oak Island said they believe Trump is the only candidate who can improve the nation.
"I think our country needs a turnaround, and I think he’s the man that’s going to turn it back around," Suzan Jones said. "I think he’s going to make us grounded again."
"I think this election is probably more important than any in my lifetime," said Philip Jones, an Air Force veteran.
He said curbing illegal immigration is important, but he has no problem with the softer stance Trump has adopted in recent days.
"Plans change," he said. "He’s developing a strategy more so than the off-the-cuff remark he made when he first came out to what’s realistic."
Daniel Galusha of Leland, who attended the rally with his 12-year-old son, Luke, agreed that the U.S. needs a new plan for immigration.
"I don't think anyone has a really good plan," Galusha said. "It just seems like what we have going on now is not working, and having worked low-skill, low-pay jobs a lot of my life, I wonder why we would want to continue to import people to take jobs from those of us that have been struggling most of our lives in the first place."