GILFORD — On the day the U.S. coronavirus death toll hit 200,000, Vice President Mike Pence pronounced Donald Trump's presidency a success and asked a crowd at a Laconia Municipal Airport hangar to grant him and his boss four more years.

“A movement that began in this state has continued, brought our country to all new heights and brought us through challenging times," Pence told a crowd estimated by organizers at 500.

 Trump carried the state in the 2016 presidential primary, but Hillary Clinton took New Hampshire in the general election.

 Pence said Trump has boosted the economy, built the military, improved trade policy, cut taxes and red tape, has been strongly anti-abortion, appointed 200 conservative judges to the bench and will soon appoint a replacement for the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

 “Before the week is out, after we honor the life and memory of Justice Ginsburg, President Donald Trump will do just that. This Saturday, President Donald Trump will nominate another principled conservative, a woman, to the Supreme Court of the United States and after the United States Senate fulfills their duty to advise and consent, we’re going to fill that seat.“

He said there have been 29 vacancies on the Supreme Court during an election year in U.S. history and presidents have always nominated a replacement.

 On March 16, 2016, Obama nominated Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, but Republican leaders in the Senate never gave him a hearing.

 Pence said Trump stands with law enforcement officers and abhors attacks on police and violent protests. He said more than 1,000 federal officers were deployed to work with local law enforcement and more than 2,500 arrests have been made.

“The truth is Joe Biden would double down on the policies that have led to violence,” Pence said.

Biden for President Deputy Campaign Manager and Communications Director Kate Bedingfield released a statement: “For four years, the Trump-Pence administration has failed Granite State workers and families. They failed to protect Americans from the COVID-19 crisis, and as a result, 438 Granite Staters have lost their lives and more than 65,000 are out of work. To make matters worse, the Trump Administration is trying to invalidate the Affordable Care Act, which would rip away critical protections from as many as 572,000 Granite Staters living with preexisting conditions. A campaign rally isn't going to reverse the damage wrought by this administration or make New Hampshire voters forget that for nearly four years, President Trump and Vice President Pence’s failed leadership has left Granite State workers and families behind.”

Pence acknowledged the grim death toll and said he feels for the families of those lost.

“In the midst of this pandemic we’ve come to a heartbreaking moment. It’s a heartbreaking milestone. There’s not a day gone by that I haven’t thought of families that have lost loved ones in the midst of this pandemic. Know that you’ve always been in our hearts and you’ll remain in our prayers,” he said.

He said that Trump did well by shutting borders and that this ultimately saved lives.

“But I truly do believe because of what we’ve all done together, because of the president’s early action putting the health of America first, because of what our first responders and doctors and nurses have done all along the way, because of the compassion, and care and cooperation of the American people, I know in my heart that we have saved hundreds of thousands of American lives," he said.

The crowd to watch Pence included Joe Juliano, 70, of Gilford, and his wife of 48 years, Sue.

What does he like about Pence?

“He has values. He has American values, Christian values.”

After the speech, Bonnie Burke of Laconia said she liked what she heard.

“It was awesome,” she said. “I love Vice President Pence. He’s a God-fearing man, he’s for law enforcement and the military. He wants to create jobs and turn America red again.”

Gov. Chris Sununu met Pence at the Manhester-Boston Regional Airport, boarding Air Force Two to talk to him and Admiral Brett Giroir about the pandemic.

Also present to greet Pence were congressional candidates Steve Negron and Matt Mowers and Senate candidate Bryant “Corky” Messner, who all joined Pence at the rally.

•••

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

To contact Rick Green, email rick@laconiadailysun.com

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