Vice president visits Austin to address Republican Governors Association

Chase Karacostas

Vice President Mike Pence spoke to the Republican Governors Association, or RGA, on Wednesday afternoon to garner their support for the new GOP tax plan and reassure them of the Trump administration’s support.

Following an introduction from Scott Walker, RGA chairman and governor of Wisconsin, Pence began by thanking Gov. Greg Abbott for his work on Hurricane Harvey relief.

“Through it all, we never failed to be inspired by the resilience and the faith and the character of the people of Texas, and we never failed to be inspired by the compassion and the strength and the leadership of the great governor of Texas,” Pence said.

Pence then discussed the GOP’s tax plan, which is currently making its way through the U.S. Senate, and congratulated the governors in the room who had already managed to cut taxes in their states, including Florida Gov. Rick Scott.

“When I look at the governors gathered here, I see a group of extraordinary leaders with extraordinary accomplishments,” Pence said. “Thanks to (the RGA’s) support, these Republican governors are proving every day that Republican policies work in our states … and Republican policies can work to make the entire American economy great again.”

Pence reassured attendees of the Trump administration’s commitment to protecting states’ rights and expanding their control.

“The states created the federal government; the federal government didn’t create the states,” Pence said. “Our administration under President (Donald) Trump knows that governors understand their unique needs better than anyone ever could.”

Pence also championed a recent addition to the GOP tax plan, the repeal of Obamacare’s individual mandate which requires most people to have health insurance, eliciting cheers from the audience.

The association hosted Pence as part of their annual conference, and prior to Pence’s speech, Walker and Scott hosted a briefing to discuss the party’s chances of maintaining power in 2018. Republicans currently hold 34 of the governorships across the U.S., the highest in the party’s history.

“We think part of the reason for that — not just now, but for the past several years — is (because) Republican governors are getting things done,” Walker said.

Next year, there will be 36 gubernatorial races, 26 of which are currently held by Republicans.

Walker said he isn’t worried about Trump, who is experiencing historically low approval ratings, hurting the chances of Republican gubernatorial candidates winning in 2018.

“If the only argument that (Democrats) have got is that you’re in the same party as (Trump), then I think they are going to have a failing race,” Walker said. “What voters want to hear about is ‘What are you going to do to make my life better?’”

Scott said the best thing Republican incumbents can do to ensure reelection is keep their campaign promises.

“The bottom line is … whether Republican or Democrat, you ran on something, and you need to do it,” Scott said.