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WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — Vice President Mike Pence launched himself into the fray of this year’s midterm elections Wednesday, assuring House and Senate Republicans that the White House will stand behind them on the campaign trail.
“We’ve got an incredible story to tell,” Pence said in a roughly 20-minute speech to Republicans attending a party retreat at the historic Greenbrier Hotel here. “President Trump and I are going to be with you every step of the way in 2018 to tell that story to the American people.”
There's reason for Republicans to worry about the extent to which they'll get support from the White House: As Pence acknowledged, historical trends suggest they will lose seats, and possibly their congressional majorities, in November's elections. And presidents are sometimes tepid about expending their own political capital to get into partisan fights on behalf of lawmakers.
But, Pence said, congressional Republicans can defy expectations the way Trump did in winning the presidency in 2016.
"I think you all know what President Trump thinks about conventional wisdom," he said. “We’re going to make history again in 2018, when we re-elect Republican majorities in the House and Senate."
To that end, Pence signaled for a second time Wednesday that he and Trump are ready to get into the hand-to-hand combat of congressional elections to protect their allies on Capitol Hill.
Specifically, he targeted House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s use of the word “crumbs” to describe $1,000 bonuses that some companies have promised employees, including NBC News-parent Comcast, in the wake of Trump’s signature tax cut law.
“If you’re going to say $1,000 is ‘crumbs,’ you live in a different world than I do,” Pence said, adding that the comment shows Pelosi is “out of touch with the American people.”
Earlier in the day, while touring a Worldwide Equipment Inc. facility in the state, he slammed Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, one of the most politically vulnerable Democrats in the country.
“People of the Mountain State, you deserve to know, when it came to cutting your taxes, Joe voted no,” Pence said. “Joe voted no to giving working families more of your hard-earned money. Joe voted no on tax cuts for job creators.”
Manchin fired back in a statement released by his office:
"I am shocked that after the Vice President worked for almost a year in a divisive and partisan way to take health care away from almost 200,000 West Virginians, bankrupt our hospitals, and push tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and huge corporations that he would come to West Virginia and continue his partisan attacks," Manchin wrote. "The Vice President’s comments are exactly why Washington sucks."
In his remarks at the Greenbrier, Pence recapped the highlights of Trump's Tuesday night State of the Union address, congratulating fellow Republicans on their shared achievements over the course of the last year.
It was, he said, "the most accomplished year of the conservative agenda in 30 years."
And he credited Trump with putting Republicans in a position to make the argument that they have been good stewards of the nation's business.
"In a very real sense, America is back," he said. "Let's go tell the story."