VP Pence campaigns in Spokane for Rep. McMorris Rodgers

SPOKANE, Wash.  — Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday urged residents of eastern Washington to send Republican U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers back to Congress for an eighth term.

Pence came to downtown Spokane to stump for McMorris Rodgers, who faces a strong challenge this year from Democrat Lisa Brown.

"Let me thank you in advance for re-electing Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers," Pence said, calling her "one of the most important national voices in Washington, D.C."

McMorris Rodgers ranks fourth in House leadership and is the highest ranking GOP woman in the chamber.

Pence, who served with McMorris Rodgers in the House, said both the state of Washington and Washington, D.C., need her.

Outside the Spokane Convention Center, more than 100 people protested. They carried signs opposing Supreme Court candidate Brett Kavanaugh and many chanted "Lisa, Lisa, Lisa" as people left the Pence appearance.

Nearby, a giant inflatable effigy of the president as an infant, known as "Baby Trump" was flown. It is a replica of one flown in London during the president's summer visit to the U.K.

This was the first visit to Spokane by a sitting vice president since Dick Cheney spoke at Fairchild Air Force Base in 2006.

Pence spent the morning in Bozeman, Montana, campaigning for Republican U.S. Senate candidate Matt Rosendale, who faces incumbent Democratic Sen. Jon Tester in the November election.

About 1,100 people attended the Pence appearance in Spokane, with tickets starting at $125.

In the primary election, McMorris Rodgers drew more votes than Brown by 49 percent to 45 percent. But the challenger is well-funded and has mounted a strong campaign.

Pence is the third ally of President Donald Trump to make an appearance in the district on her behalf. Previously U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., and Kellyanne Conway, Trump's counselor, visited Spokane.

Meanwhile, Brown secured the endorsement of former President Barack Obama on Monday. In a statement issued on Twitter, Brown's name was one of three Washington candidates among dozens of Democrats nationwide that Obama said he'd be supporting in November. The list also includes Kim Schrier, who is running against Republican Dino Rossi for an open seat, and Carolyn Long of Vancouver, who's running against Republican U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler.

Pence told the crowd he brought greetings from President Donald Trump, and described the president's term so far as "nearly two years of promises made and promises kept."

Pence pointed to achievements such as the new trade agreement with Mexico and Canada, along with the big tax cut last year.

The trade agreement is a win for U.S. manufacturers and for agriculture, he said.

"Washington farmers and ranchers are going to start winning like never before," he said.

Pence also pointed to low unemployment, high economic growth and millions of new jobs.

"The American dream is working again for every American," he said.

"Lisa Brown is too liberal for this district," Pence said, noting that Brown as a state legislator voted for tax increases.

A victory by Brown would help "make Nancy Pelosi speaker of the U.S. House," Pence said. "I was there the last time it happened."

Democratic control of the House led to higher taxes, reduced military spending and the "nightmare of Obamacare," Pence said.

McMorris Rodgers helped protect and expand Spokane's Fairchild Air Force Base, Pence said.

He also said that he and President Trump believe Kavanaugh will be confirmed by the Senate to the Supreme Court.

"Judge Brett Kavanaugh is a man of integrity," Pence said.

McMorris Rodgers addressed the crowd before Pence.

She asked them if they were there to celebrate America and its booming economy.

If so, "you're at the right place supporting the right candidate for Congress," she said.