Recent bombings and attacks on U.S. soil are a direct result of President Obama’s “weakness” in dealing with international terrorism, vice presidential candidate Mike Pence said Tuesday night.
A Trump administration will “restore law and order to every city and every community in this nation once again,” Pence, the Republican governor of Indiana, told a rain-soaked crowd in Williamsburg, Virginia. He asked supporters of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign to show their appreciation for the work of law enforcement “in these challenging times.”
Pence’s visit coincides with recent polling that shows the race in Virginia, a key swing state, has become tighter
— a shock to experts and media as well as the Hillary Clinton campaign, most of whom believed Virginia was solidly in Clinton’s grasp as recently as August.
A University of Mary Washington poll released Sept. 15, showed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton at 40 percent, and GOP nominee Donald Trump at 37 percent, well within the poll’s 4.4 percentage point margin of error. Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson polled 8 percent.
Pence’s remarks came after police in Charlotte, North Carolina, shot and killed Keith Lamont Scott on Tuesday afternoon, news that was met by violent protests in the city later that evening.
That incident follows the release of video of the fatal shooting of Terence Crutcher by Tulsa, Oklahoma police last Friday.
Pence did not mention either shooting, focusing instead on the weekend bombings in New York City and New Jersey, as well as Saturday’s attacks at the Crossroads Mall in St. Cloud, Minnesota, where 10 people were stabbed. The suspects in both crimes are Islamists.
Authorities arrested Ahmad Khan Rahami after a shootout in Elizabeth, New Jersey, in connection with the bombing attacks. The FBI has not yet linked Rahami to any terrorist organization.
An off-duty police officer shot and killed Dahir Ahmed Adan, the suspect in the Minnesota attacks. A news agency affiliated with the Islamic State, Amaq, claimed Adan was a “soldier of the Islamic State.”
Pence singled out the Minnesota officer, Jason Falconer, for his actions, and praised law enforcement officials for swiftly capturing Rahami, whom Pence called “a terrorist.”
Pence hit a familiar theme among conservatives: that the Obama administration’s reluctance to call these incidents terrorist attacks or acknowledge their connection to Sunni Islam was indicative of the Democratic Party’s weak approach to the war on terror.
Pence said the administration’s insistence on calling it a “narrative fight,” showed “theirs is a narrative of denial.”
In an interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Monday, White House Press Secretary Joshua Earnest said that “when it comes to ISIL, we are in a fight, a narrative fight with them, a narrative battle.”
“We can’t play into this narrative that somehow the United States or the West is fighting against the Muslim religion,” Earnest said.
Pence used a different acronym for the Islamic State, a self-described Sunni caliphate that controls a large portion of Iraq and Syria as well as commanding the allegiance of forces around the world.
“We will destroy ISIS at its source and defeat radical islamic terrorism wherever it appears,” Pence said.
Pence also took a swing at Hillary Clinton, referring to remarks Monday, in which the former U.S. senator and secretary of state said, “The language that Mr. Trump has used is giving aid and comfort to our adversaries.”
Trump’s rhetoric reflects “strength, which does not give comfort to our adversaries,” Pence told supporters in Williamsburg. “Weakness does.”
Pence described a Trump administration that would “restore the arsenal of democracy” by building up the nation’s armed forces, using America’s military might to “hunt down and destroy those who threaten our freedom.”
After the rally, the vice presidential candidate would “pick up the phone with this soggy arm and tell [Trump] how great you all are,” he said.
“After you get all dried out, go tell somebody,” about the Trump campaign, Pence said. “The election is close in Virginia, and across the nation.”
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