VP Mike Pence departs Nashville after Statesmen's Dinner speech - WSMV News 4

VP Mike Pence departs Nashville after Statesmen's Dinner speech

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Vice President Mike Pence, L, exits Air Force Two alongside Sen. Lamar Alexander. (WSMV) Vice President Mike Pence, L, exits Air Force Two alongside Sen. Lamar Alexander. (WSMV)

Vice President Mike Pence served as the keynote speaker for the Tennessee Republican Party’s annual Statesmen’s Dinner on Thursday night.

Air Force Two landed at Berry Field around 5:15 p.m. ahead of the speech.

A small crowd waited for hours to see the vice president land in Nashville. Along with military leaders, Bill Hagerty, the U.S. ambassador to Japan, was there to greet Pence on the tarmac.

“This is terrific for Tennesseans I think to see what great leadership in the Congress and the leaders here in Tennessee – Gov. Haslam and his cabinet – have with the staff at the White House. Vice President Pence’s relationship with the governor is very strong,” Hagerty said.

Alongside Pence was Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-TN, who also flew down on Air Force Two.

Pence shook hands and took pictures with military personnel and their families.

“We actually got to shake his hand and he actually spoke to us a little bit,” said Eli Hurt, who was there to meet the vice president. “He said he liked my hat.”

After being introduced by Gov. Bill Haslam, Pence began his speech by expressing sympathy to Mayor Megan Barry for the loss of her son, Max Barry.

Pence’s speech included comments on health care, immigration and tax cuts. He also took moments to discuss President Donald Trump’s performance so far.

“The president has signed more laws cutting through federal red tape than any president in American history,” Pence said.

Pence took a few jabs at the Democratic Party.

“Democrats have decided on their agenda. It’s summed up in one word: resist. Well my fellow Republicans, I believe that we should sum up our agenda with another word: respond. Respond with action, respond with results,” he said.

The vice president said even though the Senate did not come up with enough votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act, he thanked Tennessee’s senators for supporting the effort.

“Make no mistake about it, this ain’t over. This ain’t over by a long shot,” Pence said.

Haslam confirmed the dinner was the largest in the event’s 41-year history. The Tennessee Republican Party estimated around 2,100 people would attend.

Air Force Two departed Nashville just after 8 p.m.

The event raised money for the Republican Party, with tickets starting at $250 per person.

This was the vice president’s first visit to Nashville since taking office.

While Pence rallied the Republican Party inside Music City Center, hundreds of people from across the state gathered outside to voice their opposition to the administration’s immigration actions. Click here to read more.

Stay with News 4 and WSMV.com for updates to this story.

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