Pence's visit to West Philadelphia Catholic school greeted by supporters, protesters

Justin Udo
February 05, 2020 - 3:49 pm
Protesters during Mike Pence's visit to St. Francis de Sales School.

Justin Udo/KYW Newsradio


PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Vice President Mike Pence is making a swing through Pennsylvania on Wednesday to tout the Trump administration's support for funding tuition for private school students — also referred to as school choice — and, on the campaign side, to make an appeal to women voters.

He's with U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and senior Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway, first at a Catholic school Philadelphia and later at a suburban Harrisburg hotel.

The Philadelphia event is education-themed. DeVos is touring the states to tout her $5 billion plan to fund tuition for private school students. The "Education Freedom Scholarships" allow businesses and individuals to get 100% federal tax credits for donations to scholarship-granting groups.

Pennsylvania has a similar tax-credit program for businesses, although critics say it lacks accountability, transparency and oversight, and siphons cash away from public schools.

"Pence and DeVos are here trying to trick the country into thinking that school choice is not racist and classist," said Miriam Oppenheimer, who joined dozens of her neighbors to share her disdain with Pence, the administration and their school choice program during the visit to St. Francis de Sales School in West Philadelphia. 

"We want to provide an alternative perspective in a peaceful way to let people know that citizens of Philadelphia are not all complying with this fascist regime," she added. 

But it was not just protesters who greeted Pence.

Supporters of Mike Pence at his visit to St. Francis de Sales School.
Justin Udo/KYW Newsradio

Labor union members like Jim Gallagher came out to ask Pence to help reopen the shuttered South Philadelphia oil refinery that caught fire last year.

"The vice president and the president, they're in favor of reopening that refinery," he said.

"We're here in support of the refinery. But one thing, let me make this clear, it's not about "R" or being a "D." It's about "J" for jobs," added John Bland with Boilermakers Local 13. 

Pence will also headline a "Women for Trump" campaign event in suburban Harrisburg, in a congressional district where Republican Rep. Scott Perry is expected to face a stiff challenge from Democrat Eugene DePasquale, the elected state auditor general.

President Donald Trump was the first Republican presidential candidate since 1988 to win Pennsylvania, and the state is expected to be a premier battleground in this year's election.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.

© Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.