LIMA, Ohio — One hundred days removed from the presidential election, Mike Pence took a Friday evening flight into an Ohio town of less than 40,000.
Donald Trump's running mate drove 45 minutes from the nearest airport into Allen County to visit the state’s 30th most-populated city — a solidly Republican area in northwestern Ohio where Mitt Romney beat Obama nearly two votes to one in 2012.
"My friends in Ohio, from this Hoosier to you Buckeyes, I’m going to tell you that when Donald Trump becomes president of the United States of American the change will be – huge,” Pence told the crowd of several hundred supporters inside the student events center at the University of Northwest Ohio, emphasizing the word huge to mimic his running mate.
Prior to the Ohio stop, Pence made solo stops in Wisconsin, Michigan and Indiana in the last 48 hours with solid, responsive turnouts. Like Lima, his stops into Kent County, Michigan, on Thursday night and Waukesha County, Wisconsin, on Wednesday were centered in very favorable territory for conservatives, where voter turnout among already-registered Republicans could be key to the duo pulling off several key swing states in the region.
The selection of Pence was intended to help shore up support in the midwest states that could turn in favor of the Republican ticket in November — Pence’s first solo stops on the campaign were evidence of the campaign’s desire to carry out that strategy.
"If you want more taxes, more spending, more regulation, more government and fewer jobs just vote for the Clinton-Kaine ticket,” Pence pitched. "If you want more jobs, less taxes, more opportunities and more innovation, you want to vote for Trump-Pence.”
John Kasich selected the town of Lima to deliver his State of the State Address in 2013.
In the midsize town of Lima, however protesters interrupted Pence for the first time on the trail.
“Lima trumps hate!” two protesters chanted midway through his remarks. The room quietly bustled as the protesters were led away before Pence spoke up: “How about ‘USA’?”
The crowd then grew noisy with counter chants of “USA.”
“I always tell my kids — that’s what freedom looks like and that’s what freedom sounds like,” Pence picked up after a minute delay.
A dozen more protesters stood outside the venue with signs as Pence’s motorcade departed back for the airport.
Pence is off the campaign trail for the weekend after returning on Friday night to his home in Indianapolis. But on Monday, he will head westward, spending the first part of the week in Nevada, Arizona and Colorado before returning to Virginia and North Carolina.