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  1. Florida Politics

Pence praises Trump in GOP stronghold, The Villages

THE VILLAGES — Republican vice presidential candidate and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence praised running mate Donald Trump and called on supporters to work hard to elect them Saturday at a standing-room only rally here.

"The other side has a campaign of insults," Pence said. "That's not what this election is about. This election is about security, prosperity, the Supreme Court and having the highest standards of integrity in the highest office in the land."

Pence, speaking before a crowd of about 850 people in the Savannah Center, thanked the residents of the large, Republican-leaning retirement community for its pro-Trump "golf cart parade" held on Friday.

He mostly avoided or only alluded to recent Trump campaign controversies, such as Trump's sudden reversal of his years-long questioning of President Barack Obama's birthplace.

Instead, Pence spent much of his folksy speech repeatedly lionizing Trump as "a fighter, a winner."

"People say, 'What is it about him?' " Pence said. "Donald Trump just gets it. He's the genuine article. . . . A doer in a game reserved for talkers. And when he does talk, he doesn't tiptoe around the thousands of rules of political correctness."

Pence criticized Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton for her comments this month calling half of Trump supporters "deplorables" for racist, sexist and xenophobic beliefs. Clinton apologized for saying "half" but has maintained that those beliefs exist among some Trump supporters.

While Trump has strongly, if inaccurately, maintained that he was against the Iraq War in 2003, Pence instead focused on policy during the Obama administration and said "Iraq was essentially stable in 2009."

"It breaks my heart to see squandered what was won in hard-fought battles in Operation Iraqi Freedom," Pence said.

While Trump has questioned the NATO alliance, Pence told the crowd several times that Trump would "rebuild the military, stand by our allies and stand up to those threatening us."

Trump would also put a moratorium on all new federal regulations, Pence said — Trump criticized the "FDA food police" on Friday — and would also repeal all of Obama's executive orders on day one.

Pence called The Villages "an extraordinary community" that needs to work to get out the Republican vote in what is a party stronghold.

The Savannah Center's limited capacity of about 700 seats meant that some people who had thought they confirmed a ticket online received an email Friday telling them they would not be able to get in.

But officials ended up letting in a standing-room-only crowd that lined the walls of the ballroom.

Those with tickets said they were strong Trump supporters — though when asked what they wanted to hear from Pence, several people stressed they wanted to hear specifics.

"Policy, policy, policy," said Michael Dlowhy of Brooksville. "How they're going to move the U.S. forward, how they're going to get people employed, how he's going to secure the borders."

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