National News

Pence rallies eastern NC supporters; Trump, Biden to return to NC next week

Posted October 16, 2020 5:24 p.m. EDT
Updated October 16, 2020 7:28 p.m. EDT

— One day after President Donald Trump met with hundreds of cheering supporters next to an airport runway in Greenville, Vice President Mike Pence visited Johnston County to continue pressing for North Carolina voters to re-elect the ticket.

A crowd of 200 to 300 people braved a chilly rain and mud to get to The Farm at 95, an event venue in Selma where Trump spoke to about 17,000 people four years ago.

Pence spoke about the vigorous economy under Trump that created a quarter-million jobs in North Carolina. Even with the coronavirus pandemic, the economy is beginning a strong rebound, he said.

"We're going to keep protecting the vulnerable and keep saving lives. We will soon have a vaccine and literally millions of doses available under Operation Warp Speed," he said.

Former North Carolina Gov. Jim Hunt noted the state has set records the past two days for new coronavirus infections and that the number of people hospitalized with the virus is on the rise.

"It didn’t have to be this bad, but Vice President Pence – the head of the White House Coronavirus Task Force – has misled North Carolinians and grossly mismanaged the response since the very beginning of this pandemic," Hunt said in a statement. "By turning their back on science and experts, Pence and President Trump turned their back on North Carolina and shut the door on doing what is needed to end this public health crisis and the devastation it continues to cause."

Pence also addressed another crisis the nation has faced this year: protests over police brutality and racial injustice, some of which turned violent.

"We are going to have law and order in every in every city, in every state, for every American of every race and creed and color, so help us God," he said.

Trump's administration has fulfilled all of the president's pledges during his four years in office, so voters should give him four more, Pence said.

"We provided for the common defense. We cut taxes. We rolled back regulation. We supported law enforcement," he said.

Eric and Debra Hirshfeld drove from Greensboro to Selma for the rally and said they were impressed with Pence.

"He's a great balance for Trump," Eric Hirshfeld said. "You've got to have both sides of that equation to make the equation great, and Pence really does that well."

Joshua Flores, who's attended numerous Trump-Pence rallies in North Carolina, said dealing with the rain was worth it.

"I love this president. I'll stand out here in the rain. I'll stand in a tornado and tsunami, if I have to," Flores said.

He'll soon have another chance to attend a Trump rally, as the president's campaign said Friday that Trump will be at the Gastonia Municipal Airport next Wednesday for a 7 p.m. event. Doors open at 4 p.m., and people can register in advance.

Meanwhile, Democratic challenger Joe Biden will be in Durham on Sunday for a get-out-the-vote event. The event starts at 1 p.m., but other details haven't been announced.

A recent WRAL News poll shows Biden with a five-point lead over Trump in North Carolina, 50-45 percent. Political observers say the state is critical to Trump's re-election chances, which is why the president and Pence are making frequent campaign visits.

Pence closed his 50-minute speech by urging those in the crowd to go vote early – and to take a friend along.

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