HARRISBURG — Vice President Mike Pence rallied a crowd of Pennsylvania Republicans on Thursday night, challenging them to spend the next 18 months doing everything they can to reelect President Donald Trump .
“Do everything Pennsylvania did the last time around and then some,” Pence told about 350 people at a fundraising dinner at the Radisson Hotel Harrisburg. “We know what we’re up against. We know the headwinds we face.”
Freedom itself is at stake in the fight against Democrats in 2020, the vice president said. “We will resolve here in Pennsylvania and across this nation that America will never be a socialist country,” Pence said.
The dinner was a new event on the state party’s schedule, designed to raise money to help mobilize Republican voters for Trump.
Earlier in the day, Pence stopped at a packaging plant in York, talking with workers about Trump’s plan to renegotiate trade deals with Mexico and Canada, a topic he also brought up at the dinner.
Already, several Democratic candidates for president have visited Pennsylvania, including Beto O’Rourke, who stopped in State College in March; Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who met with teachers in Philadelphia; Sen. Bernie Sanders, who visited Pittsburgh in April; and former Vice President Joe Biden, who held a rally in Philadelphia last month.
On May 20, Trump stumped near Williamsport for Republican Fred Keller, who won a special election for the U.S. House the next day.
Tickets ranged from $150 for general admission to $10,000 for a table to benefit the Republican Party of Pennsylvania. The party announced that the dinner was sold out and called it its most successful fundraiser ever, but would not say how much it generated.
For more than 30 minutes, Pence touted the administration’s tax cuts, a lower unemployment rate, increased military spending, end to the “war on coal,” and plan to build a wall on the country’s southern border.
“The confidence is back, jobs are coming back. In a word, America is back," Pence said.
Earlier in the week, Pence was in Washington leading talks with Mexican officials, including Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard, over Trump’s threat of a 5 percent tariff on Mexican imports if the country does not stop the influx of illegal immigration into the United States. Trump has said he’d impose the tariffs next week if Mexico doesn’t comply, though the specific conditions of his request were unclear.
Brandon Cwalina, a spokesperson for the state Democrats, said Trump’s tariff would harm the Pennsylvania manufacturers, farmers and industrial workers he promised to help.
“Our working families and local businesses shouldn’t have to pay the price for the Trump administration’s failed leadership," he said.
Trump became the first Republican presidential nominee to carry Pennsylvania since 1988 a little over three years ago, though he won by less than 1 percent of the vote here.
After Pence left, as attendees ate, National Committeeman Bob Asher of Montgomery County, who is also co-chairing Trump’s finance committee, warned them he’d soon be hitting them up for donations. He also stressed the importance of Pennsylvania to the national party.