Upon arriving in Cleveland, Presumptive Republican Vice Presidential Candidate Mike Pence spoke at the American Conservative Union Foundation’s Cleveland Luncheon Tuesday afternoon. In a speech designed for driving party unity, and focused on the dangers of a Clinton Presidency, Pence stated repeatedly that “we must ensure that Hillary Clinton will never become President of the United States of America,” and defined Donald Trump as a strong and qualified leader who is connected to the American people.
Pence reminisced about meeting Ronald Reagan in 1988 during his first failed bid for Congress, noting Ronald Reagan’s “unshakable faith in the capacity of the American people to achieve greatness and astound the world.” In that meeting, Pence recalled thanking Ronald Reagan for his service and noted the trying times and challenges facing the country at the time. Reagan later responded to the Republican Congressional candidates, including Pence, present at the meeting: “A couple of you thanked me for what I did for this country. I don’t think I did anything for this country. I think the American people decided to right the ship and I was just the captain they put on the bridge when they did.”
Pence spent part of his speech drawing connections between Donald Trump’s leadership style and ability to connect with the average American, and that of Ronald Reagan. He highlighted Trump as the right man, with the right leadership style, and the right connection with the people to captain the ship during today’s challenging times.
Of Trump, Pence stated: “I have a sense of this man. I have a sense of his heart. I have a sense of his hands-on style of leadership, and for all the world, he reminds me of Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan achieved great things in his life and his career: a movie star, a celebrity, Governor of the great State of California. But he never lost the common touch, did he?”
“[Trump] believes in the American people. And their boundless potential. He is unintimidated by the world,” Pence said. “But he is in awe of the people of this country and I know that I know that I know, if we will work every day between now and six months from tomorrow, that on that day, Donald Trump will raise his hand, become the 45th president of the United States of America and he, and we, will make America great again.”
The comparison of Trump to Reagan was met by scorn from some conference goers. Upon hearing of the speech, Rory Cooper of #nevertrump stated, “The only thing that ties Donald Trump to Ronald Reagan is the campaign slogan Trump stole from Reagan’s 1980 campaign.”