Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence compared running mate Donald Trump to Ronald Reagan Thursday in his first solo campaign appearance in North Carolina.
Pence, the governor of Indiana, gave a speech and answered questions from an audience of about 300 people at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts. He spent much of the speech praising Trump and criticizing opponent Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama.
“Not since Ronald Reagan in my lifetime has there been a man or woman at the national level who has heard the frustrations and the aspirations of the American people the way (Trump) does,” Pence said. “He’s distinctly American. He makes some of those people in Europe just crazy.”
Pence addressed his running mate’s differing approach when he answered a question from an 11-year-old boy who wondered if “softening up Mr. Trump’s words” would be his role in a Trump administration.
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“Sometimes things don’t always come out like you mean,” Pence said. “We have different styles, you might have noticed that. Differences in style should never be confused with differences in conviction.”
Pence refuted Obama’s recent criticism of Trump, noting that the president had said the billionaire was “woefully unprepared to do this job.”
As Pence quoted the president’s critique, someone in the crowd shouted “Was he looking in the mirror?”
“This administration through its policies has weakened America’s place in the world,” Pence said of Obama. “We’re still reeling this morning from the news that on the very week four American hostages were released, $400 million worth of cash was delivered to Iran. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama essentially put a price tag on the head of every American traveling abroad.”
During the question-and-answer session, the first audience member called on was N.C. Republican Party executive director Dallas Woodhouse. Woodhouse wanted to hear Pence’s thoughts on North Carolina’s voter ID law after a federal appeals court judge struck it down.
“The integrity of the vote is the foundation of the integrity of the democracy,” Pence said, noting that the Supreme Court upheld Indiana’s voter ID law. “I think we helped lead the nation in voter ID, and it has not been a barrier to access to the ballot place.”
Pence praised his counterpart in North Carolina, Gov. Pat McCrory. “North Carolina and Indiana are out there with the fastest growing economies in America,” he said. “Your good governor, Pat McCrory needs to be re-elected.”
Pence appeared with Trump in Winston-Salem last week. His appearance follows a rally Wednesday that featured Clinton’s running mate. And former President Bill Clinton is expected to campaign in the state on Friday.