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Pence to join Trump today along with protests, heat

Election 2020 Trump

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence during Trump's re-election kickoff rally at the Amway Center, Tuesday, June 18, 2019, in Orlando. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

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Ginger Livingston

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Today’s visit by President Donald Trump will include Vice President Mike Pence, a counter rally by Democrats, campaigning from major candidates in two special congressional elections and thousands of Trump supporters and protestors enduring hours in the hot sun.

Pence’s office confirmed Tuesday he will join Trump at Minges Coliseum in Greenville, where people are expected to begin lining up as early as 4 a.m. for the 7 p.m. rally.

Pence is scheduled to join the president following two events in Fayetteville, first a gathering with Dan Bishop, Republican candidate for the 9th Congressional District special election. He will then visit Fort Bragg Army Base where he will speak with 600 army personnel and guests before traveling to Greenville.

Along with protesters, who are being staged at the west side of Minges at the Smith Williams complex near the natatorium, the chairman of the North Carolina Democratic Party will join local Democratic Party leaders at a news conference scheduled for 3 p.m. at the Town Common Park, 101 E. First St.

A news release announcing the event, said Democrats “will hold Donald Trump accountable for attacking affordable health care, slowing disaster relief and passing tax policies that put corporate tax cuts over working families.”

The release also notes that this is the president’s first rally since a series of tweets urging four U.S. representatives to “go back to” the “broken and crime infested” countries they came from. All four representatives are women of color but only one is a naturalized citizen, the other three were born in the United States.

The Democratic candidate for the 3rd Congressional District special election, Allen Thomas, doesn’t plan to participate in any protests associated with the president’s visit.

“We are not going to deviate from our schedule. Our goal is to win an election on Sept. 10 to represent the citizens of eastern North Carolina,” Thomas said. “Nothing about (today) impacts that. We are running for the people of eastern North Carolina and this district so we will be working with them.”

Thomas is scheduled to be at Freedom Fountain in Jacksonville at 11 a.m. today to discuss delays in repairing military structures, including housing for families, damaged during Hurricane Florence.

“There’s a lack of leadership in looking after our military families and our military personnel, who look like they are deployed in certain parts of the base,” Thomas said. “So we will be talking to families and personnel highlighting these important challenges across the district.”

The New Bern Sun Journal reported last month that 1,816 of the 2,901 homes at U.S. Marine Corps Camp Lejeune and New River Air Station had been repaired as of late May and 619 of the 727 base houses at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point have been completed.

Congress in early June passed a $19.1 billion disaster aid bill that also included funding for hurricane repairs.

After his Jacksonville event, Thomas is scheduled to meet with members of agriculture and coastal communities to discuss the lack of technology and broadband access in rural towns and how it can be addressed.

Rep. Greg Murphy, the Republican candidate in the special election for the 3rd Congressional seat is scheduled to be in the General Assembly this morning before returning to Greenville for the “Keep America Great” rally.

“The buzz around town has been amazing ever since President Trump made the announcement he was coming to Greenville,” Murphy said. “I look forward to welcoming him personally but I can assure you that he already knows about our area. He is particularly aware of the influence of the military in our area and the vital role they play in defending our nation.”

East Carolina University, which is renting Minges Coliseum to the president re-election campaign, is expecting people to begin lining up in the pre-dawn hours for a chance to see the president. The university did not permit camping, said ECU Police Capt. Chris Sutton.

Williams arena holds 8,000 people but hundreds, if not thousands more are expected because free tickets were given to anyone who signed up. There will be an outdoor screen set up so individuals who don’t make it inside can watch the president’s speech.

The National Weather Service has issued a heat advisory with a high near 97 and a heat index reaching 108. Doors for the event are not set to open until a few hours before the rally starts.

Sutton said a heat management plan is in place, but people lining up should should hydrate before the event and drink water through the day. Greenville Fire-Rescue will be on the scene should heat emergencies arise, Sutton said.

ECU Police on Tuesday also urged people not attending the rally to avoid traveling near the athletic complex, including Charles Boulevard and 14th Street.

Contact Ginger Livingston at glivingston@reflector.com or 252-329-9570.

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