By Dannys Marrero
Pittsburgh Current Contributing Writer
On Friday, Oct. 23, Vice President Mike Pence arrived at the Allegheny County Airport in West Mifflin to lock down support for him and his boss, President Donald Trump in the Nov. 3 General Election.
Even with Coronavirus numbers once again surging, a crowd of 100 supporters was in attendance, some wearing masks, some not. This stop in Pittsburgh came less than 24-hours after the last presidential debate, which President Donald Trump, by most credible reports, lost. That left the Vice President to conduct “damage control” in the key battleground state.
Edina Hess, who came to the event, said Pence was dispatched to Pennsylvania on such a short-notice because some previously locked-down voters might be wavering in their support for the President.
“He’s visiting Pennsylvania because they’re not sure about some voters out here,” said Hess “He’s coming here today to confirm that the support is still here.”
Attendees started the event with a prayer at 2:45 p.m. Air Force 2, delivered the VP at 3 p.m. and Pence wasted no time going on the attack, trying to paint a bleak picture of the future under Joe Biden’s leadership.
“I’m here for one thing, and one thing only,” said Pence “to give this president 4-more years. “The choice is clear folks, a Trump economy or a Biden depression”
In both 2016 and 2020, the Trump campaign has utilized fearmongering, and Friday’s event was no different. Pence referred to the Affordable Care Act as “socialist medicine:” (“They want to give you socialized medicine. They’re calling it the public option. Only radicals like Bernie Sanders support such a thing” said Pence.), talking about a Democratic threat to pack the Supreme Court and also played a heavily edited video calling out Biden’s so-called promise to end Fracking.
Brad Gram, a Trump supporter and West Mifflin resident was one of the most outspoken attendees after watching the video.
“That’s Biden for you, what’s he going to do if he gets elected? We don’t know,” said Gram “Is he getting rid of fracking or keeping it? You got to keep people making money in Western Pennsylvania, Fracking brings a lot of money here”
To be sure, Biden has made some confusing comments about his own stance on Fracking. But several fact check sites have found that Biden didn’t call for a total ban on fracking, but rather an end to oil and gas production on federal land. Also, according to state and multiple federal departments, less than 1 percent of all jobs in the state are in the oil and gas sector.
Pence then shifted to the economy.
“During the Obama administration, America lost 2-million jobs” stated Pence “the Biden Plan will raise taxes by four million dollars. They are trying to implement a two trillion-dollar Green New Deal. This would also abolish fossil fuels and fracking. Meanwhile, we cut taxes, and gave the money back to the people. Our administration has also seen the lowest unemployment rate for African Americans.”
But That statement was not entirely true as a federal tax rate of 12 percent would remain the same for families that make up to $80,250 or individuals who make up to $40,125, according to the Internal Revenue Service. In 2019, a little more than 53 percent of Americans had an annual household income that was less than $75,000 dollars, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. When it comes to Black employment rates, however, both Pence and Trump have inflated those numbers. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the unemployment rate for black workers did fall to 5.5 percent from 6 percent, according to the Labor Department data. But an Associated Press fact check found:
“It’s true that black unemployment did reach a record low during the Trump administration: 5.9 percent in May 2018. It currently stands at 6 percent.
“But many economists view the continued economic growth since the middle of 2009, when Democratic President Barack Obama was in office, as the primary explanation for hiring. More important, there are multiple signs that the racial wealth gap is now worsening and the administration appears to have done little, if anything, to specifically address this challenge.
“African Americans also had higher income prior to the Trump administration. A black household earned median income of $40,258 in 2017, the latest data available. That’s below a 2000 peak of $42,348, according to the Census Bureau.
“The most dramatic drop in black unemployment came under Obama, when it fell from a recession high of 16.8 percent in March 2010 to 7.8 percent in January 2017.”
Pence’s falsehoods didn’t stop there, however. He told attendees the crime and murder rate in the City of Pittsburgh had risen drastically.
“In the City of Pittsburgh, the murder rate has risen 53-percent” said Pence “Joe Biden would contribute to that number”
Even though the City has experienced an overall 1.3 percent increase in incidences of crime compared with the previous month, according to the Pittsburgh Police Release Uniform Crime Report Numbers, the city has experienced a 17.6 percent decrease in incidences compared with the same time frame in 2019, and a 25.9 percent decrease when compared with the five-year average. According to the report, it should also be noted that murder crimes have decreased by 22.6 percent from August of 2019 and by 40.1 percent measured against the five-year average.
“We need to protect your second amendment” Pence continued “Donald Trump is the law enforcement president. We’re gonna back the blue and we’re gonna back the blue for four more years.”
While Republicans, led by Trump have spouted rhetoric about “backing the blue,” and being the “law-and-order President,” have been nothing short of dog whistles to rally support for his actions that have included using federal troops against protesters and even advocating violence against them.
Even with President Trump losing in all national polls, anywhere from three- to 11 percent, Pence concluded his remarks dismissing such polls
“You know, in 2016, I always said there were two types of polls; the ones we were losing a little and the ones we were losing a lot,” said Pence “But the polls were wrong.
“I don’t believe a lot of the polls,” said Hess “They’re all liberal and just making it seem like he’s always losing just like in 2016 with Hillary. But whatever, they can keep doing that because it’ll motivate us to vote even more.”