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Vice President Pence Hits On Key Trump Themes In Call For Re-Election

Jacquelyn Martin

With the 2020 presidential campaign already underway in Pennsylvania, Vice President Mike Pence made his case to the midstate to re-elect President Donald Trump.

The vice president spoke at a Republican Party fundraiser Thursday night at the Radisson Hotel in Camp Hill, Cumberland County. 

The visit comes less than three weeks after Trump spoke in Williamsport, Lycoming County and comes amid criticism from some in his own party forconsidering tariffs on products imported from Mexico

Addressing about 300 guests who each paid between $150 and $1,000 to attend the dinner, Pence hit on some of the same promises that led to Trump's victory in Pennsylvania in 2016.

Pence cited tax cuts, low unemployment and tightened border security as examples of the president delivering on those promises. 

"We're going to build that wall, we're going to secure our border, and we're going to fix this broken immigration system once and for all," Pence said, drawing applause from a crowd that included former Republican Gov. Tom Corbett and U.S. Congressman Scott Perry of Pennsylvania's 10th Congressional District. 

Pence also got lengthy applause for mentioning that he opposes ideas like the Green New Deal and universal health care, popularized by Democrats such as U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York's 14th Congressional District.

"America will never be a socialist country," he said.  

There's no doubt Trump has strong support in places like Cumberland County, said Chris Borick, political science professor at Muhlenberg College in Allentown. The real question is how he'll do in places like Bucks and Montgomery counties, which went for Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016, and which Trump may need to win in 2020.

Trump was the first Republican to win the presidential vote in Pennsylvania since 1988, and Pence's visit shows they're anxious about winning again, Borick said. 

"Now, of course, since 2016, the picture for Republicans in the state has not been very good," he said, pointing to Democratic gains during the midterm. 

The narrative has also shifted on some key topics such as health care, which polled as one of the top issues for voters in 2018, Borick said. 

"Health care remains a key issue for voters approaching 2020, and it's become a liability for Republicans."

While it stands to be seen how voters at large will respond to these changes, the crowd at the Radisson remained enthusiastic.  

Bob Bolus turned up early to show his support for the vice president. Bolus, a trucking company owner from Scranton, gained notoriety during the 2016 election season for covering his commercial trucks with pro-Trump, anti-Hillary Clinton messaging. 

His excitement for Trump -- and Pence -- remains strong. 

"He's making it happen," he said.