Mike Pence Delivers Traditional Republican Message Trump Won’t

Vice President Mike Pence talks to the attendees during a fundraiser for the Republican Governors Association at Air Capital Flight Line. (Oct. 18, 2018)
Vice President Mike Pence talks to the attendees during a fundraiser for the Republican Governors Association at Air Capital Flight Line. (Oct. 18, 2018)

The week was like any other week of Donald Trump’s presidency: It started with him threatening to dispatch U.S. troops to the southern border and ended with him calling a Democratic activist who was a target of the pipe-bomb campaign a “crazed & stumbling lunatic.’

And like every week before it, Vice President Mike Pence ignored the tweets, the statements and the outbursts as he travels across the country delivering the election message the old Republican guard wants to hear as the GOP tries to keep control of Congress.

Pence touted the new jobs created (“4.2 million”), the unemployment rate (“lowest in 50 years”) and the success of GOP-backed tax cuts (“the largest tax cuts and tax reform in American history”) at every speech and at every campaign event, using language that would have easily earned the stamp of approval from congressional leaders Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell.

“Literally since the day after the election, confidence is back all across the country, jobs are coming back all across this state and this country,” Pence recently told a couple hundred people at a Des Moines hotel. “In a word, America is back and it’s just getting started.”

Republicans fighting to hold onto their majorities in Congress have something to campaign on in next week’s midterm elections: the nation’s healthy economy.

But while Trump touts the economic turnaround — repeating most of the same statistics as Pence — he chooses not to stay on message, careening from one controversy to another, often of his own making.

“Republicans across the country need help from the White House but not the distractions,” said Craig Robinson, a consultant and a former political director of the Iowa Republican Party. “That’s the benefit of bringing Pence in. He’s the perfect safe surrogate.”

Together, Trump and Pence appeal to both kinds of Republicans — those who prefer the focused policy-driven message of Pence at smaller, subdued events and those who favor the free-wheeling speeches of Trump at his raucous Make America Great Again rallies.

Trump appeals to the non-traditional voters who backed his unorthodox 2016 campaign because of his blunt talk and his ability to reveal himself publicly the same way he does privately.

Pence — who is widely considered to be more conservative than Trump — appeals to the base passionate about the Trump agenda but not necessarily the Trump style.

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SOURCE: McClatchyDC, by ANITA KUMAR