Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence is set to speak in Leland Wednesday at Manufacturing Methods, a fabrication and assembly facility, around 3 p.m.
The rally comes on the heels of Donald Trump’s visit in mid-August.
Aaron King, an assistant professor of political science at UNCW, said the second visit proves the importance of winning the area, especially since southeastern North Carolina has seen tight races in the past.
“Well, North Carolina certainly is a battleground state. This is a state that particularly the Republicans really need to win. I think that is evidenced by the fact that they are spending quite a bit of attention and time here,” King said. “We saw Donald Trump just a couple of weeks ago, and, with Pence coming to town, I think they are really reinforcing their message.”
A message that also speaks to the prominence of the Port City and surrounding areas, King explained. Pence has focused on blue-collar areas, like Leland, in his campaign.
“That's sort of the people that the Trump campaign is really speaking to—going around to the port and going into some manufacturing,” King explained. “Wilmington does have a lot of political diversity, but at the same time it's very competitive. It's worth the candidates spending time here.”
He also said that with two visits from the Republican Party, a Democratic visit may not be far behind.
“I wouldn't be surprised if Hilary Clinton or Tim Kane might be in the area in not too long of a time. Once you see one campaign really target an area, the other campaign has to sit back and say, ‘Well, man, maybe there's a reason why we need to be there too,’” King said. “And some people who haven't really made up their minds, they can say ‘the Trump campaign is here, where is the other side,’ so perceptions do matter.”
He said businesses should expect some extra visitors with another political rally in town. King also commented on the extra traffic that comes with a rally.
“The first thing I thought about Leland is I thought about the traffic this will cause,” King laughed.
Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office said along with helping with security, they will also be keeping people updated on traffic conditions and changes through their social media pages.
King explained the area will benefit from the extra political attention it has received.
“Some people have some strong feelings about whether or not they like the candidates, but I think it's important for us to realize that it's valuable when candidates come to our area to speak to us,” King said. “That shows they are concerned about the voters in this region. It says that we have something to say, and they want to come spread their message.”
King expected Pence’s message to focus on the factory workers.
“He's really going to talk to the workers and speak to them and talk about what their campaign can do, specifically for this area, but for manufacturing in general,” King said.
Officials with Manufacturing Methods said they believe their factory is a prime business model to compete against offshore manufacturing, a focus of Trump’s campaign.
"Our company was chosen to host this event because we are a clear example of how a small business start-up can quickly grow into a thriving business serving the coastal Mid-Atlantic region near Wilmington,” the company said in a statement on Tuesday.
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