1 of 8 | Former Vice President Mike Pence speaks from The Des Moines Register Political Soapbox at the Iowa State Fair on Thursday. Photo by Joe Fisher/UPI
Des Moines, IOWA, Aug. 10 (UPI) -- Once again, Republican presidential candidates Mike Pence, Doug Burgum and Larry Elder hit the campaign trail in Iowa, this time at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines on Thursday.
Pence drew the largest crowd of the day at the Des Moines Register Political Soapbox. with hundreds bearing the summer heat in the low 90s to hear his vision to unite Americans. The soapbox is a tradition at the fair, giving a platform to Republicans and Democrats to deliver their best 20-minute pitch to voters.
"When you drive 15 miles out from Washington, D.C., people tend to get along," he said. "In Iowa and Indiana, we know how to talk to people who don't agree with us."
Pence added that he hopes to see civility restored among citizens if he is elected. On his way to the soapbox, several people in shirts from the campaign for former President Donald Trump heckled him, with one woman shouting "traitor."
The soapbox is typically a platform for stump speeches, but Pence opened up for questions after about 10 minutes. One member of the audience asked him why he "committed treason" on Jan. 6 -- referring to Pence certifying the 2020 election results despite Trump's pleas for him to do otherwise. Pence appeared prepared for the question and responded quickly after another audience member shouted at the person who asked the question.
"I encourage you to read Article II of the Constitution, respectfully," Pence said. "The vice president is to preside over a joint session of congress and all votes shall be counted."
"There's almost no idea more un-American than the notion that any one person could pick the American president," he continued. "That belongs to the American people. My former running mate asked me to choose him over the Constitution and I chose the Constitution and I always will."
The crowd largely cheered Pence's response.
Greg Pohl, a fairgoer from Nebraska, said Pence earned his respect with his actions on Jan. 6, 2021. Pohl described himself as a "Never Trump Republican."
"I think Pence is an honorable man," Pohl said. "I believe Pence saved the county with his honorable actions on Jan. 6."
Pohl added that he is still gathering information before choosing a candidate to support in the Republican primaries.
During a "fairside chat" with Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds earlier in the day, Larry Elder said pardoning Trump would be atop his day-one priorities. He said he also would restart construction on the wall at the southern border and reinstate Trump-era border policies.
Elder also discussed what he calls his "blindside initiative," an executive order he said he would sign to prevent family members of presidents and vice presidents from making money "off of the Oval Office." He referenced Hunter Biden and Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner as examples of why his initiative is important.
"Nobody should go into politics and come out richer," he said.
Elder said that he would consider his campaign successful if he can get other candidates to discuss some of the issues he is running on.
John Owen, a military veteran from Newton, Iowa, said he liked what Elder had to say and respects the goals of his campaign. He told UPI that he enjoys seeing the candidates at the fair during the election cycle, though he is already leaning toward a candidate.
"I have another friend who is a veteran and he said Trump is a narcissist. He's a blowhard," Owen said. "That just might be what we need to turn this country around. Like the governor said, this country is going to hell fast."
North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum was the first to take the soapbox stage this year, following an introduction from first lady Kathryn Burgum. The governor said the three issues he is running on are the economy, energy and national security.
His plan to strengthen the economy centers on loosening federal regulations. He cited his success as an entrepreneur, founding Great Plains Software in North Dakota in 1983.
"I know what small town kids can do," Burgum said. "We can outperform anyone in the world."
The economy also plays a role in Burgum's vision for increasing national security. He said the United States can win its "cold war" with China and "proxy war" with Russia by building a strong economy. He plans to roll back policies that focus on clean energy in favor of an "all-of-the above" approach.
"If we really care about the environment, we should want all of our energy produced in the United States," he said. "We produce it cleaner and safer."
The Iowa State Fair will continue to be a hotspot for candidates in the coming week. Reynolds will sit down with Burgum, Pence and Miami Mayor Francis Suarez on Friday. Suarez also will speak from the soapbox, followed by Elder and Perry Johnson.
Reynolds will hold conversations with 12 Republican candidates in total during the fair. The lone candidate not scheduled to speak with Reynolds is Trump. The former president announced this week that he will make an appearance at the fair on Saturday. But he is not scheduled to speak at the soapbox.
Democrats Marianne Williamson and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. are scheduled to appear on the soapbox on Saturday. Democrats made their presence felt during the fair on Thursday, as well, with Minnesota Gov. Tim Waltz and Iowa Sen. Rita Hart holding a press conference to push back on some of what was said during the Republican speeches.