Pence calls for Obamacare repeal during Columbus visit

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Mike Pence in town for Ohio Republican Party's state dinner

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

The Ohio GOP is anything but united these days: four well-known Republicans are jockeying to be governor, John Kasich recently took a public swipe at Vice President Mike Pence, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman is walking a tightrope over health care reforms and state Treasurer Josh Mandel faces a primary opponent in the U.S. Senate race.

Despite these squabbles, more than 1,000 Republican Party faithful packed into the ballroom at the Ohio Union on Ohio State University’s main campus on Saturday for a fundraising dinner that featured a 32-minute keynote speech from Pence.

Pence downplayed the friction between the Trump and Kasich teams.

“I’ve known your governor a long time. And John and I occasionally have differences of opinion. You know, there is one thing we can all agree on: Ohio is a great state and John Kasich has done a great job as governor of the state of Ohio,” Pence told the crowd.

Kasich’s team publicly rebuked Pence earlier this month when the vice president claimed that some 60,000 disabled Ohioans were on wait lists for Medicaid services. The Kasich administration pushed back, including with a tweet from his spokesman that said “That’s what we call #fakenews.”

Initially, Kasich, who lost the Republican presidential nomination to Trump in 2016, was not going to attend the Ohio GOP event, citing a scheduling conflict. But he did show up for a VIP reception with Pence.

Related: Trump beats Kasich in fight for Ohio GOP leadership

Pence used his appearance in Columbus to push the president’s agenda: cutting taxes, shutting down illegal immigration and rebuilding the U.S. military.

“I’ll make you a promise: under President Trump’s leadership we will rebuild our military, we will restore the arsenal of democracy and we will once again give our soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and coast guard the resources and training they need to accomplish their mission and come home safe,” he pledged.

Pence also publicly pushed for action in the U.S. Senate on health care reform. “President Donald Trump and I are going to keep fighting every single day until this Congress puts on this desk a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare. As the president said this morning, Obamacare is dead. Democrats are obstructionists and it’s solely up to Republicans Senators to rescue the American people from that disastrous policy.”

The party supporters also heard from three of the four politicos running for governor in 2018: Attorney General Mike DeWine of Cedarville, Secretary of State Jon Husted of suburban Columbus, and U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci of Wadsworth. Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor of Green skipped the event.

Renacci pitched himself as a political outsider with business experience and a fresh perspective. Husted said he has worked to deliver on a conservative agenda as a lawmaker, House speaker and secretary of state and he said Ohio needs a “new generation” of leadership. DeWine pledged to focus on creating jobs, cutting taxes, limiting regulations and improving quality education.

Related: How much are Ohio's governor candidates worth?

Since becoming vice president in January, Pence has visited Columbus on April 1, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base on May 20 and Cleveland on June 28.

Related: Pence says cutting regulations will spur job growth

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