Nothing new at Pence rally

John McClatchy

I went to a rally for the Trump/Pence ticket in King of Prussia, and I felt like I had simply watched a highlight reel of the RNC.

My grandmother asked last night if I wanted to go to a rally for VP candidate Mike Pence today in King of Prussia. I didn’t hesitate in saying yes.

Let me just get this out of the way: I don’t support Trump at all. I decided to go because I saw it as a chance to see a national figure in person and to be able to talk to people about why they’re supporting Trump. My grandmother was a Kasich supporter, but now she is more of an anti-Clinton voter than pro-Trump. I wanted to go to see whether this was a common perspective.

We got to the site of the rally — a tubing factory — a little past noon, with the rally scheduled to start at 1:30 p.m. I took advantage of the extra time by taking out my phone and asking a few people about what they wanted and didn’t want to hear from Pence, and I posted a few of these remarks on Twitter.

The entire time I was in the factory, I was taking mental notes. The crowd was majority white and male, and although I spoke with about half a dozen women, only two consented to being recorded and posted to Twitter. I saw only one black person in the entire crowd: James Jones, a Republican running in Pennsylvania’s 2nd Congressional District, where only 12.3% of people voted for the Republican candidate in 2014. The only Hispanics I saw worked at the factory.

The scheduled time came and went and Pence did not take the stage. At first I didn’t mind because I knew that it wouldn’t start on time— nothing ever seems to in politics. I started to get a little impatient around 1:50, and I found a chair for my grandmother, who was getting tired.

Pence finally took the stage sometime around 2:00 p.m. The first politician to endorse Trump in Pennsylvania, state representative Mike Vereb, introduced Pence. He took the time to denounce Hillary Clinton for the growing email scandal, replying to what has become a customary crowd jeer of “lock her up” that he wish he could, but he had retired as a police officer.

I was anxious to hear what Pence had to say. I admit I haven’t heard him speak much at all. I didn’t hear his RNC speech and all I really knew about him was his role in the disastrous Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which opened LGBT Americans to discrimination from businesses on the basis of religion.

As much as I dislike Trump’s rhetoric, Pence spoke professionally enough that the speech was a little more palatable. However, any growth in my respect for him stopped there, as he really stuck to Trump talking points: Clinton’s corrupt, political correctness is awful, Clinton and President Obama’s policies have failed the country, etc.

He took a bit of time to talk about how important Pennsylvania was to winning for Trump. He’s not wrong. If Clinton wins just Pennsylvania and New Hampshire and loses every other battleground or swing state, she will still win.

However, apart from that, he didn’t say much else. My grandmother and I spent just as much or more time waiting for Pence to take the stage after 1:30 as he did speaking. I was pretty disappointed because his short speech only briefly touched on what rally attendees told me they wanted to hear, without any substance or concrete plans.

I didn’t go to the rally to change my mind about Trump and Pence, and I’m glad I didn’t. I didn’t hear anything that I didn’t already hear from any of Trump’s speeches — although Pence didn’t manage to insult anyone in his speech, which I hate mentioning — or the speeches at the RNC. Pull up any list of talking points of Trump and Pence, and that was the rally in a nutshell.

Why I did go to the rally was to talk to people why they’re voting for Trump and Pence, and I wasn’t disappointed there. I met some incredibly interesting and kind people: people who asked me where I was going to college, about Malvern, and Jones even wanted a picture and selfie with me, which I thought was really cool.

The people I met are the only reason I don’t regret spending my Tuesday at the rally. For their sake — and for the sake of anyone who has a story and real reasons to choose a candidate carefully — I wish Pence’s remarks were more substantive.

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