Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence described himself as "kind of a B-list celebrity" during a campaign stop in Pittsburgh on Tuesday night. But while the Indiana governor drew just roughly 200 people to the Sen. John Heinz History Center, his stump speech drew a response almost as boisterous as his running mate, Donald Trump, could expect.

And he did it without causing the kind of controversy Trump himself incurred earlier in the day.

"I've gotten to know this good man," Pence said of Trump, whom he said understood working Americans "like no American leader in my lifetime since Ronald Reagan. He's never forgotten the men and women who work with their hands. . . . Donald Trump gets it."

By contrast, Pence said, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton offers "more of the same failed politics that have run our country into the ditch."

"Weakness arouses evil," said Pence of ongoing chaos in the Middle East.

As Trump has done in his own appearances, Pence strove to portray the race as a choice between change and the status quo - with Clinton representing the latter.

"They tell us this economy is the best that we can do," Pence said. "It's nowhere near the best we can do. It's just the best they can do."

The audience cheered that, along with Pence's repeated pledge to end a purported "war on coal." Economists say the coal industry has been hurt by a number of economic factors, principally the low price of natural gas, but Republican criticism of environmental regulations is a guaranteed applause line with Western Pennsylvania conservatives.

Local Democrats held a news conference to critique Pence's appearance hours before it took place.

DeWitt Walton, an Allegheny County Council member and United Steelworkers official, noted that while Trump has built much of his campaign around his opposition to trade pacts like NAFTA, "there's never been a trade deal that Mike Pence opposed."

Those who came to hear Pence were unfazed by the criticism. Several said he brought balance to the ticket - and potentially to the White House.

"I think they will both bring a wealth of knowledge, and one thing I'm counting on is that Mr. Trump will build a strong team," said Marge Jacobs of Upper St. Clair, who along with her husband had lined up shortly after 3 p.m. to be the first in line to enter the event.

"People disagree on issues all the time," said State Rep. Rick Saccone, who praised Pence for a "more polished, more diplomatic" presentation to balance Trump's sometimes contentious utterances.

The perils of that style were on display earlier, when Trump told a North Carolina audience that "the Second Amendment people" might be able to do something about Clinton's ability to appoint Supreme Court justices if she were elected.

Earlier, in Lancaster, Pence told an NBC affiliate that Trump meant gun owners "should be involved in the political process and let their voice be heard." And in both Lancaster and Pittsburgh, he lauded Trump as someone who "doesn't go tiptoeing around those thousands of rules of political correctness."

"It seems like every single day the national press latches on to some other issue about my running mate," Pence lamented.

He noted that the father of the Orlando nightclub shooter attended a Clinton rally in Florida on Monday, but said the press "stays focused on our side of the aisle."