Vice President Mike Pence, in front of an audience of about 400 ardent supporters of his boss, President Trump, at a downtown Cincinnati hotel ballroom, spent an hour talking about a trilogy of ideas that all made his listeners very happy.
He talked about:
- The Trump tax cuts, which he claimed have already created 4 million new jobs in the U.S., including about 16,000 in Cincinnati and 110,000 in Ohio and Kentucky
- An impassioned argument that the first 18 months of the Trump administration have seen "tremendous, unprecedented progress,'' with the signing of a military spending bill that will give service men and women their first raise in 10 years, and a promise from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to not only de-nuclearize the Korean peninsula but to return the remains of American servicemen who served in the Korean war in the early 1950s
- A plea with the conservative crowd to re-elect Republican congressmen like Steve Chabot and Brad Wenstrup and make U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci Ohio's new U.S. Senator
The whole afternoon at the third floor ballroom of the Westin Hotel downtown was meant to be part of a traveling roadshow put on by America First Policies, an organization that touts Trump and his policies.
It was billed as being all about the tax cuts and what they argue are the positive impacts they have had on the U.S. economy since being passed by the Republican Congress earlier this year.
"From the first day of this administration, we have been dedicated to tax reform, to simplifying the system and giving people tax cuts,'' Pence said.
"For 16 years, the greatest economy on the face of the Earth had a growth rate that averaged only 2 percent,'' he said.
Since the tax cuts went into effect, the vice president said, that growth rate has doubled "and we're not done yet."
"Confidence in the economy is coming, jobs are coming back, and America is coming back,'' Pence said.
He added that the administration estimates annual wages for working families "will rise by nearly $4,000 a year."
Tuesday's event in Cincinnati was the 16th so far this year in various cities around the country – all of them featuring Pence, who is a close friend of many of the group's organizers.
Pence had positive things to say about all of the GOP candidates, but implored the crowd to go out and work for the election of Renacci, the congressman from Wadsworth who is taking on incumbent Democrat Sherrod Brown for the U.S. Senate.
He saved his harshest criticism for Brown, reminding them that the Ohio Democrat voted against the confirmation of Trump's first appointee to the U.S. Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch.
He said Brown should say publicly whether or not he will vote to confirm Trump's latest Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh.
"Set politics aside,'' Pence said. "Give our nominee a fair hearing. And if he won't, he needs to be voted out and replaced by Jim Renacci who will."
Lara Sisselman, a spokesperson for the Ohio Democratic Party, fired back at Renacci in a written statement.
"Congressman Jim Renacci needs Washington Republicans to come in and boost his campaign because Ohioans know he can't be trusted to look out for them and their families,'' Sisselman said. "From his long relationship with convicted felon Ben Suarez to trying to avoid paying taxes on more than $13 million in income, it's clear Congressman Renacci only looks out for himself."
Before hearing from Pence, the nearly 400 attendees in the Westin's largest ballroom listened to a panel discussion from southwest Ohio's two U.S. House members, Chabot and Wenstrup, along with Sen. Rob Portman, and Renacci.
They rattled off ways in which they say Americans are benefiting from the Trump tax cuts – all of them voted for the Trump package.
Portman said that before Trump became president, "you had 1.5, 2 percent growth in the economy; people couldn't get ahead. When Donald Trump became president, he said 'We're going to fix this.' "
Now, the economy is growing at 4.1 percent.
"This thing is working,'' Portman said.
Next door, in a smaller meeting room, Pence spent time at a fundraiser for Ohio's GOP gubernatorial candidate, Attorney General Mike DeWine.
DeWine wasn't in the big ballroom for Pence's public speech on the Trump tax cuts or the panel discussion. The GOP gubernatorial candidate has generally steered clear of events involving President Trump.
Democratic candidates for Congress were holding press conferences and writing op-ed column blasting the Republicans for the tax cuts.
"Mike Pence is in Cincinnati to laud a tax bill Steve Chabot helped pass,'' Aftab Pureval, the Democrat running against Chabot, said in a press conference downstairs from the ballroom where Pence spoke.
"This bill blows a $1.9 trillion hole in the deficit and threatens Social Security,'' Pureval said.
Jill Schiller, a Democrat running against Wenstrup, wrote in a Cincinnati Enquirer op-ed column Tuesday that "Pence and the rest of this administration gutted the treasury with the empty promise that slashing taxes for the wealthy would magically fix the budget and give relief to working people who struggle every day to make ends meet."
"We deserve leaders who deal in reality,'' Schiller said.
Of course, Trump was not in the room, but his presence was everywhere. The organization that sponsored the event, American First Policies, was created in 2016 specifically to help elect the Trump-Pence ticket with its "dark money" Super PAC. The Super PAC is spending millions this year, too – this time on Republican efforts to keep Congress under Republican control.
At the Cincinnati event, organizers played an audio of part of a Trump speech touting the tax cuts.