Vice president Mike Pence is none too popular in Philadelphia, apparently.
Pence was invited to Philadelphia's Union League Club in Center City to campaign for Pennsylvania GOP candidate for U.S. Senate Lou Barletta. The campaign fundraiser came after Pence appeared at a nearby Sheraton hotel to speak before the America First Policies group.
During his America First talk, Pence boasted about the Trump administration's accomplishments in its first term and vowed to "destroy ISIS from the face of the earth." He also rejected recent calls by Democrats to abolish Immigrations & Customs Enforcement (ICE). "We will never abolish ICE, we will stand behind them and we will give them the support they deserve," Pence said.
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During his Union League Club fundraiser, which was closed to the media, a raucous crowd of protesters gathered in Center City, while nearby blocks of Broad and Walnut streets were closed to vehicles by police.
"We say, humanity first! Not America first!" said Sam Goldman, an organizer with Refuse Fascism Philly. She called on the public to organize mass demonstrations like those which during the Arab Spring in 2014 led to the end of several dictatorships in Africa and the Middle East. "This nightmare must end. The Trump/Pence regime must go."
The protesters included more than two dozen women dressed in "handmaid" costumes inspired by "The Handmaid's Tale," a dystopic sci-fi TV show based on the famed Margaret Atwood novel which depicts a world in which women are deprived of basic rights.
Handmaid-costume wearing protesters have appeared at numerous conservative events in recent years, attempting to draw a parallel between Republican policies and the TV show.
“Mike Pence and Lou Barletta’s records speak for themselves,” said Allison VanKuiken, Pennsylvania state director for the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), saying both had "anti-LGBT" positions. “As they campaign to push their extreme, anti-equality agendas, HRC is on the ground mobilizing our hundreds of thousands of members and supporters in Pennsylvania to reject the politics of hate and re-elect pro-equality champion Bob Casey to the U.S. Senate.”
Mike Pence on the Campaign Trail
Barletta, a U.S. Representative from Pennsylvania's 11th District, has gotten strong support already from Trump for his campaign to unseat incumbent U.S. Sen. Bob Casey. But Casey is reported to have stronger name recognition among voters, along with some $10 million in his campaign fund, compared to around $1.3 million for Barletta.
Donors are reportedly being asked to pay $1,000 to $10,000 per ticket to get in Pence's event, WHYY reported. Barletta was expected to raise some $300,000 to $400,000 at the Union League event.
Pence was last in Philadelphia in June to support the campaign of GOP candidate for governor Scott Wagner during an event also held at the Union League. Massive protests on Broad Street during that event also caused road closures that led to traffic jams for blocks around.