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Vice President Mike Pence cited job creation and support for law enforcement and the military among strengths of the current White House administration in a last-minute plea Monday for Westmoreland County voters to help elect him and President Trump to second terms.

Pence stopped at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Unity before heading to another campaign event in Erie. About 200 people bundled up to attend the rally during frigid, blustery weather just outside a hangar at Vee Neal Aviation. It was far different from Trump’s campaign appearance that drew several thousand to the same location on a hot Sept. 3.

The Trump administration inherited a struggling economy and a diminished military, Pence said, and, before the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic, “in three short years, we rebuilt our military, we revived our economy, we secured our borders, supported law enforcement and stood for life and liberty and the Constitution of the United States.”

He cited a gain of 7 million jobs, including 200,000 in Pennsylvania, during those three years.

Many audience members reacted positively when Pence mentioned the president’s pro-life stance and negatively when Pence discussed the energy policies of the president’s challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden.

Displaying video clips to support his position, Pence charged that Biden and his running mate, U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, want to ban fracking and “crush American energy,” which he said would destroy thousands of jobs in Pennsylvania.

Harris has clarified that the Democratic running mates are proposing to ban fracking on federal lands only.

“The choice in this election has never been clearer, the stakes have never been higher,” Pence said. “It’s going to be a choice between a Trump boom and a Biden depression.”

While Biden and others have criticized Trump’s response to the pandemic, Pence joined the president in predicting that progress is close at hand in the fight against the virus.

“We believe we’ll have a safe vaccine for the coronavirus before the end of this year, with tens of millions of doses,” Pence said. “We’re going to bring America back bigger and better than ever before.”

Pence also asked voters to support two other GOP candidates for Congress — Dr. John Joyce of Blair County, who is running for reelection in the 13th District, and Sean Parnell, who is challenging Conor Lamb in the 17th District.

Joyce, who also spoke at Monday’s rally, discounted polls that show Biden leading in Pennsylvania.

“Four years ago, the major polls showed that Hillary Clinton was going to be elected in Pennsylvania, but we know that Pennsylvania was the pathway to success for President Trump last time,” Joyce said.

Joyce said he believes Pennsylvanians will respond favorably to Trump’s support of constitutional rights and energy independence for the nation.

“This is the most important presidential election of our lifetime,” he said.

Trump supporter Louis Davis, 70, of Unity served as a volunteer during the Trump rally at the airport before traveling to see the president at other campaign events in Johnstown and Middletown. Davis arrived at the airport at 1 a.m. Monday in anticipation of Pence’s appearance.

Davis feels the president is “giving the American people hope.”

State Sen. Kim Ward, R-Hempfield, led attendees in an initial prayer before Pence’s arrival. She faces a challenge from Tay Waltenbaugh, a Hempfield Democrat, in Tuesday’s election.

Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jeff at 724-836-6622, jhimler@triblive.com or via Twitter .

Categories: Election | Local | Murrysville Star | Norwin Star | Penn-Trafford Star | Top Stories | Westmoreland

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