Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence begins a two-day tour across Georgia on Monday to try to prove that Donald Trump isn’t taking the state for granted. And his visits, ranging from a ritzy fundraiser with the Georgia GOP elite to a town hall meeting with a one-time tea party favorite, aim to show he can help unite a party fractured over Trump’s rise.
With polls showing a tight race in Georgia, the Indiana governor will hopscotch from a 2 p.m. rally Monday in Perry to a high-dollar 6 p.m. fundraiser in north Atlanta and then a 7:30 p.m. event at the Cobb Galleria Center. On Tuesday, he heads to the manufacturing hub of Dalton for a 3 p.m. town hall meeting. (You can find the details of his visits here).
The campaign stops – and the local officials who will speak at each – are designed to be a GOP show of unity behind Trump and Pence in Georgia. The state hasn’t voted for a Democrat since 1992, but Trump’s divisive comments and sagging support among conservatives has forced him to play defense in a reliably Republican state.
At the Georgia National Fairgrounds in Perry, he’ll be introduced by former Gov. Sonny Perdue, a middle Georgia political titan. Rep. Tom Price, a Roswell Republican with closer ties to House Speaker Paul Ryan than the Trump “outsider” wing, will rev up the crowd for him in Cobb. And Rep. Tom Graves, a tea party acolyte, will speak for him in Dalton.
In between, much of the Georgia GOP’s glitteratti is set to attend a fundraiser that costs $250 to attend – and $100,000 to co-chair. At least five Georgia Republicans are listed as “co-chairs” for the event – including Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus, a Republican mega-donor – and some expect the event to top $750,000 in donations.
Pence is also said to be planning several private meetings while in Georgia to help build the campaign’s evangelical base, though details are fuzzy. And he’s set to appear live on Herman Cain’s radio show over at WSB.
The visits were coordinated by two veteran Georgia operatives with ties to U.S. Sen. David Perdue, the state’s highest-profile Trump-ite. Cobb County native Nick Ayers, the national chair of Pence’s VP campaign who helped both David and Sonny Perdue’s candidacies; and Derrick Dickey, the senator’s chief of staff.
The Indiana governor also hopes to introduce himself to a Georgia electorate that’s not very familiar with the potential veep. An Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll showed that nearly three in four Georgia Republicans gave Trump a positive rating. But Pence netted a 56 percent approval rating among Republicans (another third ducked the question) and a 37 percent rating with independents, a typically conservative bunch.