Mike Pence chides ‘Obamacare’ at Mesa rally

Republican Mike Pence, Donald Trump’s choice for vice president if he is elected Nov. 8, made his fourth appearance in Arizona. (Photo by Keerthi Vedantam/Cronkite News)

MESA – Mike Pence, Donald Trump’s running mate, sounded a continuing campaign drumbeat on Wednesday, saying the rising costs of “Obamacare” and Hillary Clinton’s “open borders” immigration policy show why Arizona voters should remain faithful to the Republican Party.

“Arizona, we must ensure that Hillary Clinton is never elected president,” said Pence, who spoke to about 750 people at the Mesa Convention Center. “America is sick and tired of pay-to-play politics.”

Arizona’s insurance premiums, which rose by 116 percent under the Affordable Care Act, have become a contentious issue in the campaign.

“We are going to repeal every Obama executive order,” Pence said as supporters who sported Trump-Pence hats and t-shirts waved signs of “Make America Great Again” and yelled “Lock her up!”

Pence, the current Indiana governor and Republican vice presidential nominee, is among a wave of Republican and Democratic surrogates who are arriving in Arizona days before the election to court voters. Arizona is a traditionally Republican state that hasn’t gone blue for two decades, when Bill Clinton was re-elected president in 1996.

Pence also said Hillary Clinton would leave the nation’s borders porous. Trump has said he would clamp down on immigration of Muslims to fight terrorism and erect a wall along the border to keep out criminals. Clinton has said she supports Muslim Americans, and believes in keeping criminals from coming into the country but would work on a path for citizenship for law-abiding immigrants.

Pence said Clinton’s initiatives would harm Arizona, which borders Mexico.

His visit was sandwiched between Donald Trump’s rally on Saturday in downtown Phoenix and another Wednesday evening event with Hillary Clinton. The two candidates, along with their surrogates, have had a series of dueling visits to Arizona as the Tuesday election nears.

Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine will deliver a speech entirely in Spanish in Phoenix on Thursday.

Donald Trump Jr. worked to persuade millennials on the ASU campus in Tempe last week and will return on Friday. So far, that is the last scheduled Arizona appearance for people stumping for Trump or Clinton.

Earlier this month, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Clinton’s daughter Chelsea Clinton and First Lady Michelle Obama urged Arizona voters to choose Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump Jr. and his father had back-to-back speeches in Arizona on Friday and Saturday, which was Trump’s seventh visit since he began running for the White House. Clinton is expected to make her second trip to Arizona at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Pence, making his fourth trip to Arizona, said, “It’s time for Republicans to come home.”

Trump supporter Lee Spallas, of Chandler, said polls that show Clinton leading or in a close race in Arizona “aren’t truly reflective of the way America feels right now.”

“People here today represent America,” Spallas said.

Karen Johnson, of Scottsdale, agrees with the Trump plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

“I think he has good values,” Johnson said of Pence. “We need to straighten out the mess of Obamacare and we have to fix our immigration system.”