by Michael Knelper
Vice President Mike Pence completed a whirlwind Wednesday of campaigning for Republican candidates in Pennsylvania and Virginia with an early evening stop at Regent University, where he exhorted several hundred 2nd District voters to send U.S. Rep. Scott Taylor back to Congress on Election Day, Nov. 6.
Pence, though, began his remarks with a condemnation of this week’s attempted pipe-bomb attacks on several prominent Democrats, including former-President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, as well as on CNN’s New York headquarters and liberal billionaire George Soros. The Secret Service and other law enforcement agencies intercepted all the bombs before they could go off.
“We condemn these attempted attacks and acts of violence in the strongest terms,” Pence said Wednesday at Regent. “We will get to the bottom of this, and those responsible will be brought to justice.” He added, “threats of political violence of any kind have no place in the United States of America.”
Pence issued similar comments as he campaigned earlier in the day in Pennsylvania for incumbent Republican U.S. Reps. Lloyd Smucker and Scott Perry and GOP challenger John Chrin.
Secret Service and local law enforcement were in force on the Regent campus and in the university’s Communication & Performing Arts Center, where Pence spoke. A huge American flag filled the entire backdrop of the stage.
Pence and Taylor arrived at the invitation of Regent University’s College Student Leadership Board, which hosted the event.
Observing that mid-term elections are often challenging for presidents hoping to maintain their political party’s dominance in Congress, Pence drew loud cheers when he added, “but we all know what President Trump thinks of conventional wisdom! We made history in 2016, and we’ll make history again.”
Taylor, a former Navy SEAL serving his first term in the House of Representatives, is in what some political analysts see as tight race with Democratic challenger Elaine Luria, a businesswoman and a retired Navy officer.
But Pence called on the overflow crowd at Regent to help get out the vote by personally urging friends and family to show up on Election Day, adding that “I always have believed that the most powerful media is word of mouth.” And an enthused Taylor exclaimed, “We don’t want to just win. We want to crush it!”
Pence devoted many of his remarks to the accomplishments of the Trump administration and Republican-majority Congress. His list included tax cuts, increases in the military budget, improvements to the Department of Veterans Affairs, a new U.S. trade agreement with Mexico and Canada, rollback of many business regulations, a lower unemployment rate and appointment of conservative judges, including new Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
“It’s been two years of action, two years of results, two years of promises made and promises kept,” the vice president said. He lauded Taylor’s help in advancing the Trump agenda and warned that the election of a Democratic majority in the House or Senate could endanger those achievements.
Pence also praised Taylor’s military record as a Navy SEAL and noted that Taylor was seriously injured while on a combat mission in Iraq. “But Scott Taylor never quit,” Pence said. The audience, which included many military veterans, gave Pence and Taylor several standing ovations, especially when mention was made of Trump’s and Taylor’s support for military and veteran-related issues.
Taylor, who came to his rally casually dressed in an open-neck shirt, without a suit jacket, found himself on the receiving end of a quip from Pence about not wearing a tie. Taylor also took a selfie with Pence, with both men turning their backs to the auditorium so the audience would be in the background of the photo.
Former-Rep. Scott Rigell, who served from 2011 to 2017 from the 2nd District, also spoke on behalf of Taylor’s re-election bid, telling the voters “we’ve got to do it because it matters.”
Said Pence: “Virginia and America need Scott Taylor back in Congress.”
Regent does not support or oppose any candidate, and candidates from both parties have been extended invitations to participate in future rallies.