Vice President Mike Pence Touts Defense Spending, VA Approval At Arizona Veterans For Trump Rally

By Scott Bourque
Published: Friday, September 18, 2020 - 11:41pm
Updated: Saturday, September 19, 2020 - 10:02am

Veterans For Trump Rally
Scott Bourque / KJZZ
The crowd at a Veterans For Trump rally in Litchfield Park, Sep. 18, 2020. Vice President Mike Pence spoke at the rally.

Vice President Mike Pence spoke at a Veterans For Trump rally in Litchfield Park on Friday.

Pence praised President Donald Trump and the administration’s increases in military spending and reforms to the Department of Veterans Affairs, before devoting much of his speech to standard campaign issues, including the administration’s support for law enforcement, appointment of conservative judges and the protests for racial justice.

Pence addressed issues important to the veteran community before continuing with his campaign speech. 

“President Trump signed into law the most sweeping reforms in more than 50 years at the VA,” he said. “When Joe Biden was Vice President we saw years of scandal at the VA that literally shocked the conscience of the nation. Today, the VA has a 90% approval rating among veterans, and veterans choice is now available for every veteran in America.”

Veterans in the crowd were supportive — cheering, booing, or chanting "U-S-A," depending on what Pence had to say. 

After speaking about veterans issues, Pence spent about eight minutes of his speech praising law enforcement and the Trump administration’s “law and order” message. 

“Biden says America is systemically racist, and law enforcement has a, quote, implicit bias,” he said to loud boos from the crowd. “Under President Trump, we will always stand with those who serve on the thin blue line. We are not going to defund the police.” 

Pence also spoke about the administration’s economic record and the unemployment situation in Arizona. In August, a little over 202,000 Arizonans were unemployed. 

“We’ve rolled back more red tape than any administration in American history,” Pence said. “We’ve created 7 million good-paying jobs, including hundreds of thousands of jobs right here in Arizona.”

Both the Biden and Trump campaigns are actively campaigning to Arizona’s military and veteran community. Arizona has about 500,000 military veterans, making up about 10% of the state’s adult, voting-age population. Families with at least one active-duty military member or veteran make up about 30% of the state’s population. 

The rally came a little more than two weeks after The Atlantic published a story accusing President Trump of calling American troops wounded and killed in combat “losers” and “suckers.”

Navy Veteran John Cummuta
Scott Bourque / KJZZ
Navy Veteran John Cummuta at a Veterans For Trump rally in Litchfield Park, Friday, Sept. 18, 2020.

Trump supporter John Cummuta, who served in the Navy from 1967 to 1972, says he doesn’t believe those accusations — but even if they were true, he’d still support the president. 

“The guy says some things that I’m like ‘what?’ But again, I’m looking at the results,” Cummuta said. “He can be a loose cannon when he’s talking, but when it comes to ‘what does he actually do,’ that to me rings true. Most very successful people, heroes from the past, they were rough around the edges.”

Democratic Presidential Nominee Joe Biden’s campaign also held a virtual event targeted to veterans an hour before Pence was scheduled to speak. 

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