CHARLESTON, W.V. — Vice President Mike Pence visited the state that gave Donald Trump a massive 42- percent victory margin on Saturday, a day after Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan pulled the GOP bill to repeal and replace President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
Accompanied by Small Business Administration head Linda McMahon, Pence assured the Trump base that the administration is ready to get on with Trump’s “three part-agenda, jobs, jobs and jobs.”
The trip began with the vice president’s motorcade zipping from highway to back road, where locals looked on from their porches and yards. Pence first stopped at Foster Supply where a small group of local businessmen and businesswomen talked to him during a “listening session.”
Ronald Reagan Foster and Nancy Reagan Foster presided over the meeting. The couple legally changed their middle names in 2012 to honor the late president and his wife. Pence called the couple “my second favorite Ron and Nancy.”
Pence later addressed a crowd of 250 people in a Foster Supply warehouse. Noting McMahon’s background as CEO of WWE, Pence quipped, “Maybe we could have used a few of your WWE superstars at Capitol Hill yesterday.”
The vice president also said to Foster, ““I just heard that you have a wall division here at Fosters, Maybe we need to talk.”
Pence also assured supporters that the administration would “end the Obamacare nightmare.”
Before Pence addressed the group, local businessman Scott Pierson said he was disappointed in the Republicans’ failure to pass a bill, but added, “I realize the importance, when we get something done, it’s got to be done right.”
Pierson doesn’t blame anyone in particular for the failure, and even though he voted for a third-party candidate, he said, “I’m gonna pray for (Trump) and do everything I can to support him.”
As for Pence, Pierson said, “I like him. I think he’s a smart level-headed guy.”
Pence topped off his trip with a surprise visit to a pro-Trump rally, one of several conducted in cities across the country. “I just happened to be in town and had to drop by and say thank you West Virginia,” Pence said to a crowd of a couple hundred supporters, many in red hats.
Lewis Taylor, 25, attended the rally because, “We are supporters of Mr. Trump and Mr. Pence.”
Like Pierson, Taylor said he wants to “repeal and replace Obamacare,” but he saw in the GOP bill “a lot of similarities with what happened with Obamacare.” Taylor said he is OK with the bill not passing and that he still stands with the administration “100 percent.”
Pence also used the Charleston venue to exhort the state’s Democratic U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin to vote to confirm Neil Gorsuch.
“Let me say this to you, West Virginia, if we can get the help of Joe Manchin and with the help of (GOP Sen.) Shelley Moore Capito, Judge Neil Gorsuch will soon be Justice Neil Gorsuch.”
In a Senate with 52 Republicans, Gorsuch needs 60 votes to allow an up-or-down vote for his confirmation, unless Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell decides to extend the “nuclear option” – a rule change made by former Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada — to allow an up-or-down Senate vote on Supreme Court nominees.
Pence told supporters at Foster Supply that Gorsuch would end up on the top court “one way or the other.”
Contact Debra J. Saunders at email@example.com or at 202-662-7391. Follow @DebraJSaunders on Twitter.