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GOP VP Nominee Mike Pence brings Trump message to Leland

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Rachel Lewis Hilburn
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Republican Vice Presidential Nominee Mike Pence speaking at a rally in Leland, NC on Aug. 24, 2016.

Republican Vice Presidential Nominee Mike Pence is known for his record as a conservative Republican and Tea Party supporter.  At a rally in Leland Wednesday afternoon, Pence explained his running mate’s sometimes-controversial off-the-cuff remarks. 

The last major Republican rally in North Carolina took place two weeks ago on the University of North Carolina-Wilmington campus – where Donald Trump made headlines for appearing to encourage second amendment supporters to do something about Hillary Clinton. But Donald Trump is speaking from his heart, says running mate Mike Pence, and while the media doesn’t get it, his supporters do: 

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Pence on Trump's penchant for improv...

"Donald Trump is a doer.  He’s a doer in a game usually reserved for talkers.  And when he does his talking, he just says it straight from his heart, straight from his mind and he doesn’t go tip-toeing around all those rules of political correctness that the media and the political establishment puts in the way.  And the American people hear him loud and clear and they’re going to elect him as the next president of the United States."

Pence also criticized the media for spending inordinate amounts of time parsing the meaning of Donald Trump’s words while ignoring the growing scandals around the Clinton Family Foundation and Hillary Clinton’s emails. 

The rally brought out a couple hundred of the party faithful.  The crowd was nowhere near the throngs who showed up for the Trump rally at UNCW.  And that led the Indiana Governor to joke about his appeal.

"I appreciate you’re being out here in the sun.   I mean, I’m a B-list Republican celebrity.  I get that…"

Leland is already a small town – less than 14,000 people according to the last census – and organizers tucked this rally away in an industrial, remote pocket of Leland.  But despite the smaller crowds, Mike Pence acknowledged the importance of North Carolina in this election. 

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Pence on the road to the White House through North Carolina...

"The road to the White House goes straight through North Carolina.  It truly does…"

Mike Pence is the polar opposite of Donald Trump when it comes to how the two present on the campaign trail.  While Trump is a showman, Pence is modest – even self-deprecating.  Wednesday afternoon, Pence looked around at the relatively small crowd, while attendees squinted back at him beneath the hot mid-afternoon sun, sweating, some fanning themselves. 

He draws parallels between Trump’s family and his own: 

"His grandfather immigrated to this country just like mine.  His father was a self-made man just like mine.  We were raised to believe that to whom much is given, much will be required.  I mean, other than a whole bunch of zeroes, he and I have a great deal in common."

But the Indiana Governor starts to sound a bit more like his higher-profile running mate when he offers his view of the media’s campaign coverage:   

"It’s amazing.  The media is – you all know in this community in particular – the media is so busy parsing every word that Donald Trump said in the last 30 minutes.  It’s like they don’t have time to talk about what the Clintons have been up to for the last 30 years."

And Pence pulls no punches on the mushrooming controversy over newly-discovered Hillary Clinton emails and questions surrounding the Clinton Foundation:

"You know the truth is, it’s time for Hillary Clinton to come clean.  They ought to shut down the Clinton Foundation right now and the Justice Department should appoint an independent special prosecutor to get to the bottom of that cozy relationship between foreign donors to her Foundation and her service at State."

Unlike running mate Donald Trump’s penchant for improv, Mike Pence sticks to the script on economic policy.  The time has come, he says, for freeing up the American economy by lowering taxes, rolling back red tape, and repealing Obamacare.

"He’s going to bring real trade reform.  You know, I was at that North Carolina Ports.  And Donald Trump and I both believe in free trade, but the time has come for us to let one of the greatest negotiators in the world renegotiate trade agreements so they work for working people in North Carolina, in Indiana, and all across this country."

Energy reform, within the Trump / Pence platform means an all-of-the-above energy strategy.  Ending the war on coal, says Pence, is one key piece of that strategy – along with freeing up what he calls the power of American energy from all sources.

At two different points during his speech, Pence compared Donald Trump to Ronald Reagan.    

"I remember Ronald Reagan stepping up to that first inaugural address on a cold day in January in 1981 and he said, 'Why shouldn’t we dream great dreams?  After all, we’re Americans.'  And when Reagan got big government out of the way and lowered taxes, America took off.  Donald Trump knows it will again."

Pence also had praise for fellow Republican Governor Pat McCrory – pointing out that North Carolina has managed to pursue solid Republican economic policies despite what he calls the harmful trajectory of the Obama Administration. 

But the message he repeated throughout was the call to supporters to talk about the importance of this election – because it will determine the direction of the Supreme Court for decades to come. 

"In North Carolina, we need to think about that.  If you cherish our Constitution, if you cherish limited government, if you cherish the freedoms that are enshrined in our Bill of Rights… freedom of speech, religion, the right to keep and bear arms… you better think about that real hard."