Mike Pence visits Rye on campaign stop

Former VP vows 'different leadership' in Republican presidential primary
Mike Pence Visit
Former Vice President Mike Pence listens to veteran Ray Breslin during a campaign stop in Rye hosted by former U.S. senator and ambassador Scott Brown. Also pictured are Brown in the foreground and Pence state campaign manager Matt Mayberry. (Photo by Howard Altschiller/Seacoast Online)

Former Vice President Mike Pence told a crowd gathered Labor Day eve not to count him out of the Republican presidential primary contest. 

“A lot of people in the national press want to tell you it’s over,” Pence said. “But I think Labor Day is when campaigns begin. And I’m here because I really do believe that different times call for different leadership.” 

Scott Brown, a former U.S. senator and ambassador to New Zealand during the Trump administration, warmly introduced Pence at his latest “No BS BBQ,” praising him for standing up on Jan. 6, 2021, when President Donald Trump pressured him to use his ceremonial role at the certification vote in Congress to overturn the 2020 presidential election results. 

“Now the amount of chutzpah it took to do that, to stick to your principles, honor our country and its Constitution and then also go through the grief that he has gone through since then as a result of doing his damn job; I want to personally thank you,” Brown said. 

After his opening remarks, Pence took questions and three other voters thanked him for his actions on Jan. 6. 

“I really believe you helped save this country with your decisions,” said Larry Rocha of Rye.

Rocha told Pence that he had been a lifelong Republican but that he switched to independent after the events of Jan. 6, and he asked how Pence could restore the faith of disillusioned Americans. 

“I’m incredibly proud of the record of the Trump-Pence administration,” Pence said. “But it did not end well. I’ll always believe, by God’s grace, I did my duty on that day, upholding my oath to the Constitution of the United States and the laws of this country.” 

He said he had great faith in the American people and the people of New Hampshire to choose a standard bearer to lead the country forward. 

In his opening remarks Pence noted: “I’m a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order.” 

Polls of the Republican primary contest show Pence in the middle of the pack nationally and near the bottom in New Hampshire. Wendy Stanley Jones of Greenland said she continues to see him as a “viable candidate.” 

“He’s reasonable,” she said. “He’s one of the adults in the room. He’s not extreme. I don’t agree with him on everything but he’s willing to listen. I always like to look at governors more than anybody else, because they need to figure out how to work with everybody.” 

Betty Gay, a former three-term state representative from Salem, clad in a pink cowboy hat, came to see Pence after spending the day at the Salem GOP picnic, which featured appearances by Pence, and candidates Vivek Ramaswamy, a businessman, former Texas Congressman Will Hurd and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

“I think we have a really strong field,” Gay said. “It makes me really sad that so many people think that Trump is the only Republican you can vote for. It makes me sad that they don’t want to notice that other people are really good and more appealing to the whole country.”

Pence said he decided to run for president because he thinks the country is “in a lot of trouble.” 

“When I looked at the devastation of the disastrous policies of the Biden administration, I just couldn’t sit this one out,” Pence said, citing inflation, rising mortgage rates, a “radical liberal agenda in our schools” the “disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan” and the soaring national debt and deficit. 

“Nobody is buying ‘Bidenomics,’ which has failed the American people,” Pence said. 

‘A better deal’ on Social Security

Responding to a question on Social Security, Pence said he wanted to replace the New Deal-era policy with “a better deal.”

“We’ve got to come to terms with the fact that the principal drivers of government spending are Social Security and Medicare,” Pence said. “Now, before anyone gets nervous, let me be real clear. We could reform Social Security and Medicare without changing one penny of benefits for people that are in retirement. Secondly, we can reform Social Security and Medicare without changing a penny of what is owed anybody over the age of 40.

“But for Americans under 40, I’d like to have a conversation,” Pence said. That conversation would include changes to their Social Security benefits and putting some of their payroll taxes in a personal savings account, similar to the Thrift Savings Plan used by millions of federal employees.

Pence said he did not favor raising the Social Security contribution ceiling from its current rate of $160,000 to $500,000, as one audience member suggested.

“I would not be inclined to put a greater burden on Americans,” Pence said. “I honestly believe that we can make modest changes for younger Americans in these programs” to “bend the growth curve for these programs.” 

Pence says Roe v. Wade belongs on ‘ash heap of history’

In response to an audience member who suggested that the Republican position restricting abortion access had become a political liability, Pence stood firm. 

“I don’t apologize for it,” Pence said. “I couldn’t be more proud of being part of an administration that appointed three justices that sent Roe versus Wade to the ash heap of history and returned the question of abortion to the states and the American people.” 

Pence rejected the suggestion abortion law changes had cost Republicans in the 2022 mid-term election. 

“There were other factors,” Pence said, “including some people spent a lot of time looking in the rearview mirror instead of focusing on what the American people were focused on: job security and opportunity.” 

This article is being shared by partners in The Granite State News Collaborative. For more information, visit collaborativenh.org. 

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