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Optimistic crowd greets Pence in Duluth

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Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence's takes a selfie with a supporter during his campaign stop in Duluth Monday. (Clint Austin / / 5
Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence engages the crowd during his campaign stop at the Duluth International Airport on Monday, Nov. 7, 2016. (Clint Austin / / 5
Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence visits with supporters during his campaign stop in Duluth on Monday, Nov. 7, 2016. (Clint Austin / / 5
Supporters cheer during republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence's campaign stop in Duluth Monday. (Clint Austin / / 5

"Good morning, deplorables!"

This was the greeting from one campaign volunteer as hundreds of Donald Trump supporters arrived at a Duluth airport hangar on a brisk Monday morning. They had come to hear the Republican presidential candidate's running mate make the case for Trump — and against Hillary Clinton, whose "basket of deplorables" description of some of Trump's supporters has stuck and turned into a rallying cry.

For the more than 300 people gathered, there wasn't much need for a push from Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, though. The cheers, boos and occasional cries of "lock her up" showed the Republican ticket they have a base here in the Northland.

"When I heard the news he was coming I thought, 'It's about time,' " said Becky Hall, who had come to the rally with her 15-year-old son. "I think he's going to win the 8th District."

Hall said Trump is a "fighter" who can best serve the region's interests.

"I truly believe he can make America great again," she said, using the catchphrase of the campaign that was lettered on so many red hats and a few signs at the event.

Even some of those who can't yet vote stood in the windy hangar Monday morning to show their support.

"It's a movement, and I support Donald Trump and Mike Pence for president," said Luke LaMaster, 17. "It's a learning process, and I'll be ready next time."

While those gathered ranged widely in age, the crowd was nearly all white and 80 percent male. Cheers came loudly and often, both for Pence and Stewart Mills, the 8th Congressional District candidate who introduced the governor and elicited a chorus of boos when mentioning Syrian refugees.

Pence ended his speech with a call for faith, leading one woman in the crowd to throw her hands in the air in evangelical solidarity. Pence took a few selfies with those who remained up front before boarding his plane, bearing the Trump/Pence logo, and sending a tweet with a few photos from the campaign stop:

"The chill didn't keep our #TrumpPence16 supporters from rallying in Duluth! We have momentum here in Minnesota for (Trump)!"

Rob Przybyl came with his 18-year-old son. Both will be voting for Trump, though Przybyl wasn't sure the Republican could turn the state red.

"Hopefully it's a done deal," he said. "I can only hope and pray he can take it."

His biggest issue is with the skyrocketing costs of health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, and a distrust of Clinton and her decades of political baggage. Pence's talk, Przybyl said, was a nice break from the mud-slinging of late. "It was positive, which was nice to hear for a change," he said.

Timothy Przybyl, a Denfeld High School senior who plans to enlist in the National Guard after graduating, said he would rather serve with Trump as commander in chief than Clinton.

"I honestly can't stand how Hillary handles situations," he said. "With her liberal policies, they're too far. She leaves out half the country."

Brooks Johnson

Brooks covers business and the economy for the Duluth News Tribune.

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