Pence downplays poll numbers, turnout in La Crosse

Pence downplays poll numbers, turnout in La Crosse

Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence is downplaying numbers showing the GOP presidential ticket with lackluster support in Wisconsin.

The Indiana governor rallied supporters at the Cartwright Center on the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse campus Thursday afternoon. Law enforcement officers there to assist said the room had been prepared for more than 300 people, and chairs were about half-full for the 3 p.m. event.

In an interview after the event in La Crosse, News 3 asked Pence about the turnout and the Marquette Poll released Wednesday showing Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton beating GOP nominee Donald Trump by a 46-36 margin among registered voters, and 52-37 margin among likely voters.

“It’s still so early in this campaign,” Pence said. “I think our presence here in La Crosse today and Milwaukee tonight with Gov. Scott Walker, our earlier visits I hope give evidence to people that we’re going to contest for the votes and the support of the people of Wisconsin.”

Pence said the state had demonstrated “enthusiasm for common sense conservative leadership” and lauded Walker in his remarks to the crowd.

Republicans speaking before Pence, including candidates Julian Bradley for state Assembly and Dan Kapanke for state Senate, both mentioned that there were “people who weren’t here who should be here” and told the crowd that they were afraid too many would sit out the election.

When asked about those comments and whether he was concerned about whether there were GOP members turned off by Trump’s style that were foregoing support, Pence said he was not.

“What I’m really excited about is the Republicans and Independents and many Democrats who are being drawn to the leadership and ideas that Donald Trump is sharing all across this country,” Pence said. “When you see crowds that our nominee is drawing on a few days short notice, that’s not all members of our party, that’s a lot of Independents and Democrats.”

Pence also said he was excited to see the renomination of Speaker Paul Ryan in his district this week in a primary race against Paul Nehlen.

Trump had initially said he “wasn’t ready” to endorse Ryan, then a day later Pence came out in support, and Trump had said Pence asked permission to do so.

News 3 asked whether Pence needed to make the case to Trump for Ryan.

“Oh, not in the least,” Pence said. “Donald Trump was very excited about the opportunity here in Wisconsin last Friday to endorse Speaker Paul Ryan for renomination and re-election to the Congress. I think as time goes on you’re going to continue to see the relationship between these two men grow and it’s going to be good for the country.”

Pence also told News 3 he’s been making the case personally to talk-radio hosts in Wisconsin, some of whom are in the #NeverTrump camp.

“We’ve been reaching out and spending some time on the airwaves with talk radio hosts not only in Wisconsin but all over the country,” Pence said. “I really do believe that the primaries were very competitive, for heaven’s sake I think it was the largest field in a Republican primary in my lifetime. Getting through that and bringing our team together is a work in progress, but I’m very confident that by election day people are going to see a clear choice here.”

Pence was headed to Milwaukee Thursday night for a rally at the Milwaukee Hilton.