Pence outlines ‘new vision’ for America’s space program during Cocoa rally


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Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence appeared at Space Coast Convention Center in Cocoa on Oct. 31, giving about 1,000 people an up-close view. Hundreds more waiting outside were turned away. | PHOTO BY PATRICK GAVINArriving at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Cocoa at 7 a.m., Sherry Ashby of Palm Bay was first in line to hear Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence speak at an Oct. 31 campaign rally.

“I love Pence. He is just a moral, stand-up Christian, straightforward guy with a great family,” said Ashby, who waited five hours to get into the Space Coast Convention Center, where GOP nominee Donald Trump’s running mate addressed about 1,000 enthusiastic supporters. Another 250 to 350 were unable to get in to see the Indiana governor.

“If anything happened to Donald Trump -- which I don’t want to think about -- he would be an awesome president and he would follow through with Trump’s policies.”

Introduced by U.S. Rep. Bill Posey (R-Rockledge) and former Congressman Dave Weldon, Pence, accompanied by his wife, Karen, spoke for about 45 minutes to sign-waving Space Coast fans.

“We are just eight days away from blasting off to a great victory all across the state of Florida and all across the United States of America,” Pence said to cheers before outlining “a new vision” for America’s space program under a Trump-Pence administration.

Trump holds a slight lead over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in Florida, according to Real Clear Politics' most recent polling average.

Sherry Ashby of Palm Bay was the first in line at 7 a.m. to see Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence speak around 1 p.m. at the Space Coast Convention Center in Cocoa. | PHOTO BY MIKE GAFFEYPence said Trump’s space policy will focus NASA’s mission on space exploration, reorient the civilian space program toward deep space and exploration, promote increased cooperation with the commercial space industry, strengthen the military’s space efforts, expand public and private partnerships, and work closely with U.S. Rep. Chairman Brian Babin (R-Texas), the House Subcommittee on Space chairman who also attended Monday’s event.

“We all know that space is the final frontier and just as we’ve always done before, America needs to lead the way on the final frontier,” said Pence, who would head a relaunched National Space Policy Council as vice president. “We cannot afford to fall further behind in space exploration or technology.”

Trump supporter Juany Mancuso-Goudy of Rockledge was inspired by Pence’s pledge to reinvigorate U.S. space efforts and provide a stronger economy for Brevard County.

Joann Gleifert of Cocoa and Lee Nyff of Rockledge turned out in force to show they support the Trump-Pence ticket. The two were second and third in line for the event. | PHOTO BY MIKE GAFFEY“My whole family works for the space program, and it was such a shocking thing when the space program almost disappeared,” she said. “So for us to hear that someone is going to come and do wonderful things for the space program, it’s a blessing from the sky to us and especially to Brevard County.” 

Monday’s event was Ashby’s second Pence rally, and her “Make America Great Again” sign carried his newly obtained autograph and the number 13. That’s the number of Trump and Pence events that Ashby has attended in Florida. 

“This isn’t a junkie thing for me,” she said. “It’s a working thing and I use it to connect with people and to brainstorm and come up with different ideas on how to spread the word.”

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