FORT WAYNE, Ind. — Gov. Mike Pence, the Republican vice presidential nominee, returned home to Indiana on Friday to campaign for GOP candidates for governor and U.S. Senate — both of whom are locked in tight races.
During a subdued rally in Fort Wayne, Pence lavished praise on his anointed successor, Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb, and Senate candidate Todd Young.
Young, a Republican congressman, faces Democrat Evan Bayh — a former governor and senator who unexpectedly joined the race in July after former U.S. Rep. Baron Hill struggled to get traction and ultimately dropped out of the race. Holcomb was tapped to be the GOP gubernatorial nominee after Pence dropped his re-election bid to become Donald Trump’s running mate in July. He faces former Democratic state House Speaker John Gregg.
“This is not any ordinary election,” Pence said, urging those in attendance to help turn out voters for Young and Holcomb, whom he called the state’s “next great governor.”
Pence’s campaign schedule has made him largely absent from the state and he has appeared at just a handful of events since he was selected. While the appearance was ostensibly to boost the candidacies of GOP nominees, most of his remarks were about Trump.
As he has several times on the campaign trail, Pence appeared to try to soften recent remarks by Trump, who posted a series of late night tweets attacking a former Miss Universe referenced by Hillary Clinton Monday in the presidential debate.
“The media and the Democrats, they seem helpless to figure him out. They all keep telling each other the usual methods, the usual methods are going to work against him. ‘Now we got him. He said this, he tweeted that,'” Pence said. “They think the finally got him right where they want him and then they turn on the TV the next morning and Donald Trump is still standing strong.”
Democrats noted Pence has had a low approval rating in Indiana and said the rally was a sign that the two GOP candidates are in trouble, particularly Holcomb.
“Having unpopular Mike Pence hold a campaign stop for his hand-picked lieutenant Eric Holcomb in Fort Wayne means one thing – Holcomb is in trouble with the GOP base,” said John Zody, the state’s Democratic chairman.