The promise of more and better jobs under a President Donald Trump may have had special resonance for the few hundred supporters at a Mike Pence rally in this eastern North Carolina city.
Though Greenville and Pitt County are home to a large university and health center, some counties nearby don’t have the same job generators.
Ted Mick, 30, calls himself a lifelong Republican but was a little apprehensive about voting for Trump because of the Republican candidate’s position on torture.
But Mick, who supported Sen. Rand Paul in the primaries, now backs Trump. The Beaufort County resident thinks having a Republican in the White House will be better for the economy.
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“When you put in 100 applications and get one response, the economy is not that good,” Mick said. He has an associate’s degree in criminal justice but works part-time for a janitorial company.
Pence, Trump’s running mate, referenced the U.S. Labor Department’s Friday report that U.S. payrolls added 161,000 jobs last month, calling it “a lackluster performance in the most powerful economy on earth.”
Pence promised Trump would put “time-honored conservative principles into practice” while Democrat Hillary Clinton promises more of the same.
Republicans will “cut taxes across the board” and lower business taxes so companies in North Carolina can create jobs in the United States and not ship them overseas, he said.
Pence touched on a litany of topics – from national security to immigration to health care – in criticizing Clinton and building up Trump as the campaign pushes hard to get its supporters to cast ballots.
Pence reminded the crowd that an early voting site was 4.7 miles from the events hall.
The candidates and their surrogates are blanketing the state in the last days before the election. Trump was in Johnston County on Thursday, and he’ll be in Wilmington on Saturday and in Raleigh on Monday.
Clinton was in Pitt County and Raleigh on Thursday. President Barack Obama campaigned for Clinton in Chapel Hill on Wednesday and planned to be in Fayetteville and Charlotte on Friday.
Pence mentioned to the crowd’s cheers the FBI disclosure last week that it was examining more emails connected to Clinton’s private server. He described “an avalanche of information that’s come out” from emails and public information requests as detailing the Clintons’ corruption.
“There’s a lot of reasons to elect Donald Trump but if only for the decades of their self-dealing, their conflicts of interest, the Clintons’ pay-to-play politics of personal enrichment and outright corruption, we must ensure here in North Carolina that Hillary Clinton is never elected president of the United States of America,” Pence said as the crowd cheered.
“The American people are sick and tired of pay-to-play politics, and that’s exactly the kind of politics that’s going to come to a crashing halt when Donald Trump becomes president of the United States,” he said.
In response, the Clinton campaign released a statement from U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield, a Wilson Democrat, saying Clinton would “put families first and give the American people a raise,” while Trump has “demeaned women and sowed ethnic and religious division for personal political gain.”
The next president’s U.S. Supreme Court appointments have loomed large in the campaign. The next president is going to “set the course and direction of the Supreme Court for the next 40 years,” Pence said.
If they cherished the First and Second Amendments, “the sanctity of life and the unborn,” and limited government, it is important to elect Trump, Pence said.
Pence is a hero to some Republicans for his opposition to abortion rights. As a congressman, he introduced a bill to end federal funding for Planned Parenthood.
Elizabeth Gibbs, a nurse, traveled about 90 minutes from Tyrrell County to attend her first rally of the year and hear someone she called an “absolutely wonderful man.”
“I’m pro-life and I don’t believe that Christians can really vote for someone who’s pro-choice,” said Gibbs, 53.
Shane Claussen, an engineer from Greenville, described himself as a “strong Republican” who had already made up his mind to vote for Trump. Claussen, 44, came to the rally hoping to “hear something new.”
“They’ve kind of been saying the same message,” he said.