Vice President Mike Pence visited Columbus on Monday to rally supporters as Election Day nears. Early voting has already begun in Ohio, which is expected to play another a critical role in this year's presidential contest.
A concrete company on Columbus’ North Side called Savko and Sons hosted a couple hundred supporters as the vice president took the stage before a backdrop of yellow Caterpillar machinery.
The day had an almost tailgate atmosphere, with a handful of food trucks set up and people milling around amid rows of folding chairs. The event was outside, but few attendees wore masks, and attempts to maintain social distance were non-existent.
Highlighting Columbus Day, Pence praised the Savko family’s Italian roots, and he highlighted how the Trump administration’s 2017 tax bill impacted their business. Pence described it as a win for the company, noting they purchased 70 new pieces of heavy machinery.
"Some of them are right around us here,” Pence chuckled. “They gave, more importantly, they told me they gave their employees significant pay raises, and Savko and Sons doubled in size, and they are hiring today."
Pence hammered home an economic message throughout his remarks, claiming President Trump had invigorated the economy after the “slowest recovery since the Great Depression.” The Associated Press has described Pence's framing as “distorted,” noting that unemployment was already low and falling in the second term of former President Barack Obama. Meanwhile, the country's gross domestic product is only slightly better under President Trump.
Still, amid a deep recession and an ongoing pandemic, Pence took the opportunity for a victory lap.
"So we've rebuilt our military, revived our economy, stood for law and order, liberties and life,” Pence said. “In just three short years, we've made America great again.”
Pence also underscored the nomination of Judge Amy Conney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court seat vacated by Ruth Bader Ginsberg. With the first hearings in Barrett’s confirmation starting Monday, Pence looked back to the judge’s previous confirmation to the federal appeals court.
In those hearings, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) expressed some skepticism of Barrett’s impartiality, saying of Barrett’s Catholic faith, “the dogma lives loudly within you.”
Pence turned the critique around, saying, “That dogma lives loudly in me. That dogma lives loudly in you. And the right to live, to work, to worship according to the dictates of our faith and conscience lives in the constitution of the United States of America."
Pence also insisted if Trump’s Democratic opponent Joe Biden wins the presidency, he would expand and “pack” the Supreme Court. Biden has repeatedly refused to say whether or not he would consider such a move. But in a visit to Cincinnati Monday, Biden told WKRC he's "not a fan" of the idea.
Pence also claimed the former vice president is a stalking horse for more liberal members of his party, despite Biden beating those more-liberal candidates in the primary.
With Election Day looming and concerns growing that Trump might refuse to concede the election or muddy the waters in a protracted court battle, Pence cast this year’s presidential decision as a particularly dire choice.
“It’s not going to be whether America will end up more conservative or more liberal, more red or more blue, more Republican or more Democrat,” Pence said. “I think the choice in this election is whether America remains America.
Updated: Tuesday, Oct. 13