Vice President Mike Pence made a campaign stop in Reno on Thursday pushing President Donald Trump to get reelected to a second term. The event started with an invocation by former Nevada State Senator Maurice Washington (R-Sparks), singing the national anthem.
This was followed by an endorsement speech about Pence from Nevada Congress member Mark Amodei (R). He spoke of the relationship and history between the two during their time in Congress together before Pence became governor of Indiana, then, in 2016, vice president.
Nevada GOP Chair Michael McDonald also spoke ahead of Pence, taking time to criticize Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak’s COVID-19 response.
“Yesterday we had, like, 40,000 people show up in Arizona, because they have a governor who knows how important it is to lead,” McDonald said. “Now let me draw a contrast: we have a broken governor in Nevada in this Democratic state… Whatever you want to call him… I call him emperor, the way he is ruling us. Look at what he has done to us…We could fill this 10 times over right now, but we’re sitting here like this! You know what he’s done to Las Vegas Boulevard… It used to be the greatest boulevard in the world –now, we have shootings and thugs.”
“Why in God’s green Earth would you ever vote for the broken leadership of Joe Biden and have it go even further when you’ve seen what Sisolak has done to Nevada?” McDonald added. “Think about that.”
What also welcomed the Vice President to Reno was a major ad buy and marketing campaign by the Democratic National Committee, which placed billboards at three locations in Reno and paid for television ads throughout the Reno-Sparks metropolitan area attacking the administration’s record and handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Pence was undeterred, arriving in Reno on Air Force Two before speaking on the tarmac at Stellar Aviation hangar south of the Reno-Tahoe International Airport Thursday afternoon.
Pence spoke for nearly 50 minutes. In that time, he gave an almost traditional pre-COVID-19 like campaign-style rally. The focus was on what he called the great American comeback, and on the recent announcement that gross domestic product in the country grew at 33.1% in the third quarter, beating expectations.
Pence said the economy is coming back despite a resurgence in COVID-19 cases nationwide. He also attempted to draw stark differences between himself and his Democratic opponent, Senator Kamala Harris, who visited Reno on Tuesday. He called into question her record and policy platforms. Pence spoke of cutting taxes and regulations, supporting the American energy sector, creating more manufacturing jobs, scrapping the North American Free Trade Agreement and passing the United States-Mexico-Canada Act.
Pence told the crowd in Reno that the COVID-19 task force he leads is on the job to reopen the country.
“The best is yet to come,” he said, adding that “the economy is on the ballot” this year. He encouraged those in attendance to vote and to get others to vote as well.
An attendee from Fallon–a man named Mike–explained explained to This Is Reno why he is supporting the ticket this time.
“The views that Trump and Mike put together and to hear [Pence’s] thoughts” is what Mike said brought him to the rally. He added that abortion is the biggest issue to him. “It’s about the abortion part, where they can take them up to nine months. I don’t agree with that. That baby’s alive. That’s a child.”
This Is Reno spoke with GOP Chair McDonald after the rally and asked him about how he thought it went.
“This isn’t about Republicans and Democrats,” McDonald said. “This is about Nevadans, and if you look at what’s happening right now to Nevadans–people are out of work; the unemployment system is broken in Nevada… We have the highest suicide rate in Clark County. It’s more than it was all of last year.
“President Trump is trying to reopen the economy, get people back to work, trying to get kids back in school so they’re not committing suicide, so they have activities. It’s a very strong message that Nevadans need to have leadership to [recover]. And that leadership is a person who’s already done it. Donald Trump has already built the strongest economy, the greatest economy the world has ever seen… He’s doing it under the restraints of COVID-19 and everything that’s against him, and he’s still making it great.”
Many Republicans at Thursday’s event shared the thought that Nov. 3 may end up being a surprise to many, as it was in 2016–despite Trump being down in the polls, despite the national conversation on issues and the focus on the coronavirus as a whole.
The energy and focus in this part of the world is on a reopening of the economy and a thriving comeback and fighting to make that happen. Naturally the question that awaits the verdict in just days is: What will the people of Nevada decide?
CORRECTION: This story has been updated to correct attribution of quotes criticizing Gov. Sisolak to Michael McDonald, not Mark Amodei.