August 16, 2016

Pence defends Trump, goes after media at ABQ town hall

Mike Pence

Andy Lyman

Republican Vice Presidential nominee Mike Pence in Albuquerque.

Donald Trump’s running mate has a reputation for being more subdued in public than the Republican presidential candidate, but that doesn’t mean they attract different crowds.

A case in point came during Mike Pence’s town hall in Albuquerque Tuesday afternoon when a person from the audience during the question and answer session asked the Republican vice presidential nominee why establishment Republicans were publicly jumping ship from the Trump ticket.

He brought up Gov. Susana Martinez, who has publicly feuded with Trump and refused to endorse him, as an example.

“She is one of many Republicans that are deserting,” the man said. “Why are there an unprecedented amount of people who are deserting you and Mr. Trump in your own party?”

Pence replied by saying that Martinez is “a very dear friend of mine.”

“She’s a great governor,” Pence said, as audience members gathered at Sandia Resort Casino started booing. “She’s done a great job for New Mexico.”

Martinez is at a political event in Aspen, Colorado.

Speaking over the boos, Pence then lamented how the media wasn’t paying equal attention to Democrats who aren’t fond of their nominee Hillary Clinton.

At another point, when the Indiana governor was extolling the virtues of Trump “building those skyscrapers,” attendees interrupted him by chanting, “build a wall.” It’s a reference to Trump’s signature campaign promise to build a wall between the United States and Mexico and make Mexico pay for it.

“Let me tell you, that will get done,” Pence responded.

Trump supporters

Andy Lyman

Donald Trump and Mike Pence supporters Noel Behne and Max Glover of Sandoval County

One woman who identified herself as Brenda warned to Pence that a new civil war would ensue if either Trump or Clinton wins the election this fall. If Clinton wins “and she takes your guns away, there is going to be a civil war,” Brenda reasoned. But if Trump wins, “there is also going to be a war because Obama is going to pull martial law.”

For a response, Pence gave it his best college try.

“Brenda, Hillary is not going to be elected president of the United States,” he said, gaining cheers.

Audience members also periodically and sporadically chanted “lock her up,” referring to Clinton. One man wearing a “Hillary for Prison 2016” shirt worked up the crowd with similar chants before Pence showed up.

“That was the best part about the Cleveland [Republican] convention,” state Rep. Alonzo Baldonado, R-Los Lunas, said in response as he emceed the event.

Pence kept cool and calm throughout the question and answer segment as well as his opening speech.

During his speech, Pence presented a counter-narrative to recent negative headlines against Trump.

Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence and U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce at a town hall in Albuquerque.

Andy Lyman

Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence and U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce at a town hall in Albuquerque.

“Let me say the challenge of this election, it’s kind of a two on one,” Pence said, referring to negative coverage of Trump. “I have to turn on the TV with a stick these days.”

Pence blamed the media for focusing on Trump’s statement purporting to encourage “Second Amendment people” to take action against Clinton if she wins the presidency.

“The media was focusing on semantics,” he said.

He pointed to Clinton’s much maligned “what difference does it make” statement she made in reference to whether the 2012 attack in Benghazi was caused by terrorism or protesters as much worse than anything Trump said.

“Anybody who said that, anybody who did that is unfit to serve as Commander in Chief of the United States of America,” Pence said.

Pence also pointed to recently-released emails showing how “wealthy foreign donors” had access to the State Department during Clinton’s term as Secretary of State. The emails were released by Wikileaks and many think they were stolen by pro-Russia hackers.

His jibe came days after The New York Times revealed cash payments between one of Trump’s aides, Paul Manafort, and Ukraine’s former president and Vladimir Putin-ally Viktor Yanukovitch.

Toward the end of his remarks, Pence urged attendees to “go tell the story” themselves.

“I want you to go out and talk to your neighbors and friends,” he said. “At the end of the day, everything that is said and done in the media doesn’t matter a hell of a beans until you stop and talk.”