NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The Vice President of the United States was in Nashville for the annual Tennessee Republican Party fundraiser.
Mike Pence flew into the Nashville International Airport shortly after 5:15 p.m. and was greeted by by Colonel Keith Allbritten, Commander of the 118th Wing of the Tennessee Air National Guard, and Bill Hagerty, the US Ambassador to Japan.
Pence then headed to the Music City Center where he was the keynote speaker at this year’s GOP fundraiser. His presence was expected to break both attendance and fundraising records.
He was introduced by Governor Bill Haslam, who described Pence and his wife Karen as “the real deal.”
Haslam said when Pence was running for governor of Indiana in 2012, he invited him to Nashville to help with his campaign.
“Tell me why you’re doing this,” Haslam said he asked of Pence at the time, noting he was “struck” by the vice president’s response.
“Number one, he passionately believed that there was right way to do government, and number two, he was a person without ego who truly wanted to serve,” the governor recalled.
Once Pence took the stage, he first offered condolences to Mayor Megan Barry and her family as she copes with loss of her 22-year-old son.
“Before I get started, allow me to take a moment, a personal moment, to express our deepest sympathies to your mayor, Megan Barry, and her husband Bruce for the tragic loss of their son Max this past weekend,” the vice president said.
“The Bible tells us that the Lord is close to the broken-hearted, and I know I speak for everyone here at this state republican dinner and everyone across Tennessee, when I say that Mayor Barry, her husband, family and friends, will be in our prayers,” he added.
Pence thanked the Republican Party for helping “turn the blue wall red” with President Donald Trump’s election last November.
“Thanks to the support of everyone in this room, last November President Trump won a historic victory , more counties than any president since Ronald Reagan, 30 out of 50 states, states no Republican had carried in a generation,” he told the crowd.
Pence touched on the gubernatorial race, saying all of the candidates “have big shoes to fill because Bill Haslam is one of the best governors in the United States America.”
The vice president noted he thought he’d speak about “what you don’t hear much in the media.”
“And that is the remarkable success that President Trump is achieving as we rebuild America at home and abroad,” he said.
Pence said Trump has signed more laws, “cutting through federal red tape,” than any president in American history.
“The last administration stifled America’s energy resources, but this president has already approved the Keystone and Dakota pipelines, he’s rolled back the so-called clean power plan, and under President Donald Trump, the war on coal is over,” he told the crowd, which responded with cheers.
“President Trump has been busy putting America first,” he added, citing the country’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord.
The vice president then touched on security, saying Trump knows it’s foundation of our prosperity, that the president “has no higher priority than the safety and security of the American people.”
“They know that in President Donald Trump America has a leader who will once again stand with our allies and stand up to our enemies,” he continued. “And as a proud father of a United States Marine, I have to tell you, I couldn’t be more grateful to serve as vice president to a president that cares so deeply about the armed forces of the United States, their families, and our veterans.”
Pence said Trump has already signed the biggest increase in defense spending in nearly 10 years, saying come this fall they’re going to pass one of the biggest increases since the days of Ronald Reagan.