The battle for Bucks: Pence rally pumps up local Trump supporters

Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence had Bucks County voters fired up Tuesday afternoon.

At a rally held at Worth & Company Inc., a mechanical construction company in Pipersville, Pence rallied hundreds of supporters behind Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

“You have nominated a man who never quits,” Pence said of his running mate. “He speaks his mind. He speaks his heart. And he drives all those tea-sipping liberals from Washington, D.C. to Paris right up a tree.”

This and other statements, particularly those slamming Hillary Clinton, drove the excited crowd into a frenzy.

But among the “lock her up” jeers and “build a wall” chants was a message, the same one that propelled the New York business tycoon onto the center stage of American politics.

Pence reiterated Trump’s aversion to “political correctness” and the alleged liberal bias of the media, but it went deeper than that.

He framed the Trump campaign as one of resiliency against a political establishment that resists him and Trump himself as a candidate who “hears the aspirations and the frustrations of the American people” and “gets it.”

Meanwhile, the Indiana governor portrayed Clinton as a corrupt, political elitist. Pence linked her to policies of the Obama administration that are unfavorable to Republicans like the Affordable Care Act. He questioned her ability to handle American security by referencing Benghazi and the recent email controversy.

Pence also spoke to some of Trump’s pet issues like national security through defeating ISIS and strengthening the U.S. border, support for law enforcement, promoting domestic industry and concern over the next Supreme Court justice.

Most current polls show Clinton with a lead over Trump in Pennsylvania, though both parties have expressed the importance of the state on the path to the presidency.

“Pennsylvania always looms large in the national destiny,” Pence said toward the end of his speech. “That’s especially true this year.”

Most political observers agree, and those close to home see Bucks as the county that could swing the vote either way.

“Polls can’t measure the thing that matters most to a campaign … enthusiasm, energy and desire and that’s what this campaign has,” said Bucks Commissioner Rob Loughery, who acted as host for the event. “If Pennsylvania is a battleground state, dare I say, Bucks County is on the front lines.”

Bucks Republican Committee Chairwoman Pat Poprik also spoke to Bucks’ importance in the presidential race, noting a Politico article naming it one of the 25 battleground counties to watch.

“We’ve got to win Bucks County,” she said. “If we’re going to change this country and bring it back where it needs to be, it’s up to us.”

The Clinton campaign is clearly organizing in Bucks as November’s election looms closer. Campaign offices have opened in Doylestown and Bristol Borough supporting Clinton, U.S. Senate candidate Katie McGinty and 8th Congressional District candidate Steve Santarsiero.

Republicans have not yet set up such organizing hubs in Bucks, but Pence’s visit is a clear indication that the battle for Bucks is well underway.