CHEEKTOWAGA – Vice President Mike Pence visited Cheektowaga, Depew, and Lancaster Tuesday raising funds for Congressman Chris Collins’ reelection bid and touting President Trump’s tax plan.

Vice President Mike Pence and Congressman Chris Collins wave at supporters on October 17th at Buffalo Niagara International Airport. (Jim Herr/Cheektowaga Chronicle)
Vice President Mike Pence and Congressman Chris Collins wave at supporters on October 17th at Buffalo Niagara International Airport. (Jim Herr/Cheektowaga Chronicle)

The vice president’s plane landed at Buffalo Niagara International Airport ahead of schedule Tuesday morning.  He exited Air Force 2 and was greeted by Congressman Chris Collins before the pair walked to a waiting crowd of invite-only supporters.

Jackie Bunting, of Cheektowaga, got on the list because her brother is the President of Performance Advantage Company.

“I was very excited to come and see the landing of Air Force 2 and to see the vice president and to be up close and see the man in person,” said Ms. Bunting.

“Its probably a once in a lifetime experience to be able to get that close so I didn’t want to pass it up.”

Mr. Pence and Mr. Collins walked the entire rope line glad-handing and taking photos.  Ms. Bunting wasn’t able to shake the vice president’s hand but her nephew, 16-year-old Stephen Sojka, of Alden, did.

Vice President Mike Pence and Congressman Chris Collins gladhands supporters at Buffalo Niagara International Airport on October 17th. (Jim Herr/Cheektowaga Chronicle)
Vice President Mike Pence and Congressman Chris Collins glad-hand supporters at Buffalo Niagara International Airport on October 17th. (Jim Herr/Cheektowaga Chronicle)

“I wasn’t sure if he was going to notice me because everyone else was crowding over him as he came near us but he immediately reached for my hand, I didn’t move, and then I shook his hand,” said Mr. Sojka.

Moments later, the vice president’s motorcade whisked him away to Salvatore’s Italian Gardens where a fundraising luncheon was held for Mr. Collins, and the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Outside the restaurant, around 125 people from several different groups came together to protest the administration’s policies, reproductive rights, gay rights, and racial equality as well as the administration’s environmental stance.

Abigail Searer and Jamie Sewell demonstrate outside of Salvatore’s Italian Gardens in Depew, NY on October 17th where Vice President Mike Pence was attending a fundraiser for Congressman Chris Collins and the National Republican Congressional Committee. (Jim Herr/Cheektowaga Chronicle)
Abigail Searer and Jamie Sewell demonstrate outside of Salvatore’s Italian Gardens in Depew, NY on October 17th where Vice President Mike Pence was attending a fundraiser for Congressman Chris Collins and the National Republican Congressional Committee. (Jim Herr/Cheektowaga Chronicle)

Bridge Rauch from Queers for Racial Justice hopes their presence sends a message back to Washington.

“We’re hoping that the vice president will take home a message that his particular message of hate and intolerance is not accepted. He represents a minority within this country and we reject that wholeheartedly.  We hope that Chris Collins takes a message home likewise, that if he truly believes, as he has stated, that he represents only those who have voted for him, then he should not be in Congress,” said Ms. Rauch.

In addition to the fundraising stop, Mr. Pence toured Performance Advantage Company in Lancaster and held a roundtable to talk about the president’s tax plan.

See more photos from Vice President Pence’s visit

Cheektowaga Chronicle was not in attendance to hear the vice president speak, but in an editorial published by the Buffalo News Tuesday morning he said the president’s tax plan will give working families a historic tax cut; they’ll make the tax code simple and fair; they’ll cut the business tax rate from 35 to 20 percent; and they’ll cut taxes on the trillions of dollars that American companies have locked overseas.

“A tax cut means more jobs, higher wages and an economy where anything is possible and anyone can achieve the American dream.  The president and I are committed to passing our tax cut plan this year – and I know the best days for Buffalo, and for all of America, are yet to come,” Mr. Pence wrote.

The vice president departed the region a little after 3 pm.