The vice president ticked off the accomplishments of President Donald Trump at a get-out-the-vote rally at Mansfield Lahm Regional Airport, calling for Ohioans to elect Republicans to Congress and statewide executive offices to preserve Trump's economic progress and conservative agenda in the midterm election.
"It's been two years of action and two years of results. It's been two years of promises made and promises kept — and we're just getting started, Ohio. That's why we need Troy Balderson, Jim Renacci and Mike DeWine," Pence said.
Pence spoke for 34 minutes while seeking to scare up some Republican votes in a Halloween rally before about 500 partisans in a small airport hanger ahead of Tuesday's election.
Led by gubernatorial candidate DeWine and Senate candidate Renacci, the entire statewide Republican ticket was on hand save for attorney general candidate Dave Yost. The current state auditor was attending an event in Cincinnati. Rookie U.S. Rep. Troy Balderson, R-Zanesville, also was on hand for praise from Pence.
Pence made a couple of factual missteps and over-statements during his remarks when talking up DeWine and attacking his opponent, Democrat Richard Cordray, a former attorney general and past director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
"From the first day of his efforts as attorney general, (DeWine) joined the nationwide fight to end the scourge of Obamacare even while preserving pre-existing conditions for every person in the great state of Ohio," Pence said.
DeWine indeed joined other GOP attorneys general in unsuccessfully suing to scuttle the Affordable Care Act, which includes the mandate that insurers sell policies to people with chronic health conditions. But, DeWine said nothing at the time about the need to maintain coverage for pre-existing conditions. He now says he always has supported such protections.
Pence touted DeWine as possessing a "record of results," while describing Cordray as compiling a "record of bureaucracy and failure ... Richard Cordray stood four-square with Ted Strickland and ran the economy of this state into the ground." He cited massive job losses and state budget problems "as the direct result of the policies of Strickland-Cordray."
The frequent GOP taking point ignores the reality that Ohio, and the entire nation, suffered massive economic loss during the national recession that began in 2008. Strickland, as governor from 2007 through 2010, did not set the stage for a recession. And Cordray was attorney general, not an economic policymaker, in 2009-10.
In citing Trump's economic success, Pence also made the false claim that Ohio has gained 500,000 jobs during the past two years. Through September, Ohio had gained 136,000 jobs since Trump's election in November 2016, according to state employment figures.
Pence, who was accompanied by Trump senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, who did not speak, shared the stage with Balderson, DeWine and others after the vice president was introduced.
Balderson, whose district includes part of Richland County, was featured in a pair of campaign posters on the curtain behind Pence as compared to one each for DeWine and Renacci.
Balderson narrowly survived an August special election against Democratic Franklin County Recorder Danny O'Connor, who he faces again in Tuesday's election in the 12th Congressional District.
Pence, who campaigned with Balderson in Newark ahead of the special election, called his win a case of "that blue wave hitting a red wall." Pence said the lawmaker of a few months has emerged as "a leader on Capitol Hill and a national voice."
Balderson made brief remarks, describing himself as a "kid from Muskingum County," and introduced Pence, who he thanked for helping him with his pair of election efforts. The vice president appeared in Newark days before the special election. "I'm going to fight alongside" Pence, Balderson said. "I'm going to be with the president also. We're going to continue to make America great again."
DeWine addressed the crowd, saying, "We've come a long, long way the past eight years. If Democrats had won we would not be where we are." He cited job losses stemming from the 2008 Great Recession while Democrats held state office. He again repeated the GOP claim that Cordray's campaign promises would cost $4 billion a year, a disputed figure that has been poorly documented by the party.
The attorney general also lambasted Cordray for his support of state Issue 1 on Tuesday's ballot, claiming the drug-sentencing reform measure would leave drug dealers unpunished on the streets.
Calling Pence "my good friend," Renacci decried incumbent Democrat Sen. Sherrod Brown as a liberal, saying "he does not represent Ohio values ... we cannot go back to the days of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton ... we need to make sure we have a red tsunami on Tuesday."
The Republicans will gather again Monday afternoon in Cleveland at a rally featuring Trump as he works to keep the Senate in Republican hands and tries to stave off the Democrats' promising bid to take over the House.
With Renacci down double digits in most polls to Brown, some analysts see Trump's visit as more of a bid to rally votes for DeWine in hopes the governor's office remains in friendly Republican hands as the president seeks re-election in 2020.
Ohio Democratic Chairman David Pepper said in a statement that by rallying with Pence, DeWine and the Ohio GOP "are once again putting partisanship before the health care of nearly 5 million Ohioans battling pre-existing conditions.
"DeWine fought to eliminate the Affordable Care Act and its protections for sick Ohioans. By bear-hugging Pence, DeWine is making clear to voters that he will never stand up to Trump's attempts to rip away Ohioans' health care."
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