INDIANAPOLIS — Vice President Mike Pence should have no need to campaign in a state that Republican President Donald Trump won two years ago by a whopping 19 percent margin, particularly with less than four weeks until Election Day.
But with multiple public opinion polls showing GOP U.S. Senate candidate Mike Braun struggling to overtake U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., the former Indiana governor whooped up Republican donors Friday at the state party's fall fundraising dinner to get behind businessman Braun and "Say No to Joe."
"We've got to do our part in 2018," Pence proclaimed. "We've got to re-elect Republican majorities in the House of Representatives and we've got to expand the Republican majority in the United States Senate by electing Mike Braun as the next senator from the great state of Indiana."
Pence said if Braun is elected to the Senate he will be a loyal vote for all of Trump's agenda, including repeal of the Affordable Care Act, continued tax and regulatory reductions and support for conservative judicial nominees.
"Mike Braun actually gave health insurance that covered pre-existing conditions to his employees before Washington, D.C. ever started talking about it," Pence said.
"Mike's going to bring that practical experience and that principled conservative agenda into the well of the United States Senate — and we need him."
At the same time, the vice president ominously warned that if Hoosiers re-elect Donnelly — who has supported most, but not all, of Trump's agenda — it will "turn the United States Senate into the center of resistance in Washington, D.C."
"The truth is if the Democrats take charge on Capitol Hill their entire agenda is to undo all the progress that we've made in the last two years," Pence said.
"But we're not gonna let 'em. We're going to re-elect and expand these Republican majorities and we're going to send Mike Braun to Washington, D.C."
Pence confessed that victory will take work, even in Indiana where Republicans are dominant, since the president's party typically loses congressional seats in midterm elections.
So Pence personally is hitting the campaign trail Saturday with a public rally in Indianapolis to once again promote Braun and the entire state GOP ticket.
"Conventional wisdom says this is going to be a tough year," Pence said. "But I think we all know what President Donald Trump thinks of conventional wisdom."
"We made history in 2016 and we're going to make history again in 2018 when we elect Mike Braun to the United States Senate."
Nearly 1,000 Hoosier Republicans attended Friday's dinner at Indianapolis' J.W. Marriott Hotel, which is owned and operated by Merrillville's White Lodging.
In addition to dining on herb grilled chicken breast with potatoes, asparagus and baby carrots, attendees at the $250 a plate dinner also were treated to the debut of a Pence television ad, paid for by the National Republican Senate Committee, that condemns Donnelly for voting "no" on key parts of the Trump agenda.
"Indiana, it's time to vote no on Joe, and vote to send Mike Braun to the United States Senate," Pence says in the ad that's set to begin airing Tuesday.
Braun and Donnelly, who campaigned Friday in Hammond with former Vice President Joe Biden, will meet Oct. 30 in their final Senate debate before the Nov. 6 election.