Vice President Mike Pence told a crowd of supporters at a campaign rally in Roswell Friday that the sending of suspicious packages and explosives sent earlier this week to CNN and several prominent Democrats is despicable and has no place in American society.
“All Americans must stand united against anyone, anywhere who would use threats or violence for any reason,” Pence told the crowd at a rally in the Stewart Industries Hangar at the Roswell International Air Center.
Pence made the comments hours after Justice Department officials announced five charges against Cesar Sayoc, 56, of Aventura, Florida, in connection with the sending of packages earlier this week containing explosive devices addressed to former President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and several other Democrats.
Pence added the FBI, Secret Service and local law enforcement agencies around the country “did an amazing job” on the case.
Pence was in Roswell 11 days before the Nov. 6 midterm elections.
Friday’s appearance was Pence’s first in Roswell since the 2016 election and was organized by the campaign of Steve Pearce, the Republican candidate for New Mexico governor and the current U.S. Representative in New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District — which includes Roswell.
An organizer with the Pearce campaign said after the event that earlier in the day, 700 people were in attendance, though people were still arriving when that number was counted.
Democrats hope to pick up seats in state and congressional elections across the country, and Pence urged Republicans to respond by getting out to the polls.
“They keep talking about a ‘blue wave,’ but let’s make sure it hits a ‘red wall,’” Pence said.
His comment was echoed by others on the ballot.
“This midterm is the crux — this midterm will decide the future of America,” Yvette Herrell, the Republican running to succeed Pearce in New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District.
“We are putting it all on the line,” she said.
Herrell, a state representative from Alamogordo, is in a closely watched U.S. House race against Democrat Xochitl Torres Small, a water rights attorney from Las Cruces and former field representative to Sen. Tom Udall, D-NM.
Maggi Muse was among a small crowd who stood outside the hangar before the event started. Muse, a retiree from Clovis active in Republican politics, made the two-hour trip to Roswell for the rally with some friends. She said she came to see Pearce and Pence.
“It’s not very often that you get to see your vice president, and he is just such an incredibly awesome man of integrity,” Muse said.
She added that she is more confident by the day that Republicans will be able to maintain control of both houses of Congress.
Pence, who served with Pearce in the House, praised his former colleague as a fighter for the values and priorities of New Mexico and as someone with deep roots in the state.
Pearce faces Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham, the U.S. Representative in New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District in the race to succeed Gov. Susana Martinez, a Republican unable to seek re-election due to term limits.
Pence also praised Herrell, who has campaigned as a staunch supporter of President Donald Trump. He said that she supported Trump before it was cool and added that like Trump, Herrell makes it known where she stands on the issues.
Pence touted the Trump administration record after two years in office, including the administration’s record on jobs, the economy, increasing military spending, curbing federal regulations and the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
“It’s been two years of action, two years of results and two years of promises made and promises kept,” Pence said.
Pence also raised the issue of the need for tougher border security, a hallmark of both the Trump campaign and administration — specifically reports of a caravan of Central American migrants heading north to seek asylum in the U.S. The caravan was being organized by “leftist organizations and human traffickers who have no regard for innocent life and have exploited vulnerable people,” Pence said.
“President Trump made clear this week that this caravan, as it approaches our southern border, is an assault on our country and we will not abide,” Pence added.
Pence also said in his remarks that Harrell and Pearce’s opponents, specifically calling out Lujan Grisham for votes against key Trump agenda items such as tax cuts, said she is too liberal to be governor.
James Hallinan, communications director for Lujan Grisham’s campaign, said before the event that Pearce is an extension of Trump and the Tea Party.
“We have Steve Pearce — Tea Party, Freedom Caucus — Steve Pearce who has asked his buddy Donald Trump to help him out and Donald Trump is sending Mike Pence today to help Steve Pearce’s floundering scandal-plagued campaign,” Hallinan said.
However, few protesters were outside the event. Jasper Jennings, who said he was born female but identifies as a male, stood outside the rally alone, holding a sign that said, “I’m trans, do I deserve rights?”
“I just came on behalf of the LGBTQ community to try to stand up to what the Trump administration and Pence are doing,” he said.
Paul Romero, chair of the Democratic Party of Chaves County said Thursday night in an instant message conversation that he and other local Democrats were not planning to hold organized demonstrations, and were instead working to mobilize their voters.
“We’ve got other things to do like canvassing, phone banking, etc.,” he stated in the message.
City reporter Alison Penn also contributed to this report. Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.