Wednesday, September 28, 2016
By David Skolnick
Republican vice-presidential nominee Mike Pence’s first public appearance after the initial presidential debate is a rally tonight at Leetonia High School.
“I’m excited he’s coming here,” said Columbiana County Republican Party Chairman Dave Johnson. “Pence does a terrific job. He’s a very articulate guy. I expect a good crowd.”
The rally with Pence, governor of Indiana, starts at 6 p.m., with the doors opening at 3:30 p.m.
The high school gymnasium, where the event will take place, has a capacity of 1,200, though the largest crowd was a little more than 1,000 about three years ago for an annual basketball game between the faculty and members of the Pittsburgh Steelers, said Rob Mehno, Leetonia superintendent of schools.
Mehno said the school received a call from the campaign that “they were looking for a school or a venue in the area between Youngstown, Cleveland and Pittsburgh. We were randomly selected.”
The school day ends at 2:45 p.m.
“I’m glad students and the community have a chance to see history in action,” Mehno said. “This isn’t an endorsement for either political party. They rented the space, and we’re proud it’s Leetonia.”
The campaign’s advance team visited the school Monday, and Secret Service agents visited there Tuesday, he said.
This is Pence’s third campaign stop in the Mahoning Valley since he was named Trump’s running mate July 16, but his first time without the presidential nominee. He joined Trump at an invitation-only event July 15 at Youngstown State University and at the Canfield Fair on Sept. 5. Pence made brief remarks at YSU and didn’t address the crowd at the fair.
This is the first campaign visit to Columbiana County by a presidential or vice-presidential candidate since Vice President Joe Biden, a Democrat, stopped at the Salem Fire Department on May 16, 2012. John McCain, the unsuccessful 2008 Republican presidential candidate, had a rally Oct. 31 of that year at United High School.
Pence’s first post-debate public appearance was to occur Tuesday in Waukesha, Wis., near Milwaukee, but was canceled because Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump scheduled a campaign stop there today.
Instead, Pence attended a private fundraiser in Madison on Tuesday and met with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who is “playing” Democratic vice-presidential nominee Tim Kaine in Pence’s debate preparation, according to the Associated Press. The two VP candidates will debate each other next Tuesday at Longwood University in Farmville, Va.