CHARLOTTE, North Carolina — Republican vice presidential nominee Gov. Mike Pence courted close to 300 enthusiastic North Carolina voters on Monday in his first campaign event since his running mate, presidential candidate Donald Trump, took on Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in their second debate of the election season.
Pence offered encouragement to those recovering from Hurricane Matthew, saying, “Our nation is remembering North Carolina, your good Governor Pat McCrory.”
“It’s been an interesting few days,” Pence continued. “I joined the campaign in a heartbeart.”
Pence referred to Sunday night’s debate, calling Trump a fighter and a winner, and declaring, as he has many times before, “He will make America great again.”
“He literally embodies the spirit of America,” Pence said of Trump. “He is willing to fight every day for what he believes in and what makes this nation great.”
Addressing the eleven-year-old video that has been circulating national television and social media, the video for which Trump issued a video apology, Pence said, “It takes a big man to know when he’s wrong and to admit it. … Donald Trump showed last night that he’s a big man.”
Pence spoke of his own Christian faith and of those who asked him about it in recent days. He spoke of the high standards to which those who call themselves Christians are called. Pence then added, “We all fall short of the glory of God, and there is no one righteous, other than the One.”
“The other part of my faith is, I believe in grace. I believe in forgiveness,” continued Pence. “We have been forgiven.”
In Pence’s prior acknowledgement of Trump’s apology, he expressed hope that America would see Trump’s heart during the debate. Pence had also said that he was “grateful that he has expressed remorse and apologized to the American people.” He then said he was praying for the Trump family.
On Monday afternoon in Charlotte, Pence told the crowd that during the debate, Trump indeed “showed heart, humility; then he fought back.”
Pence moved on to speak of what the Trump-Pence administration would bring. “This election, it’s not just a choice between two people; it’s a choice between two futures. … I choose a stronger America at home and abroad. … I choose an America that stands up for the constitutional principles.”
He spoke of an all-of-the-above energy strategy that will lead to a more prosperous future. “We’re gonna take the advice of Hillary’s husband,” said Pence, referencing former President Bill Clinton’s statements at a rally, where he called Obamacare crazy. “We’re going to renegotiate NAFTA so it works for the American economy,” said Pence.
Pence went on to say that government wants to be involved in every aspect of our lives.
He pivoted, then, to the Supreme Court, stating that the next president will likely decide the Supreme Court for the next 40 years.
Pence said the U.S. “must decide here and now that the person we elect as the next President of the United States is Donald Trump.” This is essential,” he said, “for sake of the rule of law, the Constitution, life, Second Amendment, right to keep and bear arms.”
“I was awfully proud of my running mate last night,” Pence said, returning to the subject of Sunday night’s debate. He told the crowd that the media continues to ignore the avalanche of corruptions that come out of the Clintons.”
“Donald Trump went out on that stage last night and put the truth before the American people,” Pence said. He then revisited the issues that Clinton’s private foundation took millions from foreign donors as she headed up the State Department, that she destroyed emails from a private server, and her use of high technology to erase emails.
Clinton’s private speeches to foreign financial groups came up, as well. Pence referenced the WikiLeaks release of the emails of John Podesta, a close adviser to President Obama. Podesta was also chief of staff to former President Bill Clinton and current Chairman of Hillary for America. He spoke of the hemispheric market with “Open trade and open borders,” documented in the emails, the accuracy of which the Clinton campaign has not refuted.
Pence spoke of when he first got to know the Trumps during the summer. “To know the Trumps is to know a family,” said Pence.
Pence told the crowd that in Donald Trump and Mike Pence they have two people who will fight every day for the American Dream for everyone in this nation.
“I truly do believe that now is the time to do all that we can,” said Pence, who suggested that those who are inclined could bend a knee and pray for the country.
Clinton and Trump have jockeyed for the advantage, often within the statistical margin of error, in North Carolina polls in the past several months. A Real Clear Politics average of five recent polls gives Clinton the current advantage over Trump by 2.6 percent, in part due to a late September poll that gave her a six-point advantage. The most recent poll included in that average, High Point, showed Clinton up just one point. That poll was taken from October 1-6.
From the Charlotte event, Pence will continue on to hold an evening event in Fletcher, just outside of Asheville. His wife and daughter have joined him along the campaign trail on Monday in North Carolina.
Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana.