(WHTM) – Former president Donald Trump did not show up to the Republican debate at the Ronald Reagan Library in California, but his former Vice President, Mike Pence, did.

abc27’s Dennis Owens got the chance to speak with Pence, who said he understands the importance of Pennsylvania for Republicans to win the White House.

“I have to tell you, as Vice President having had the opportunity to meet so many people all across the great state of Pennsylvania, I have great confidence in the days ahead,” said Pence, “that our party is going to produce a standard there that will hold up that common sense conservative agenda that is synonymous with the people of Pennsylvania.”

Pence says that agenda will include committing to a strong military, fiscal responsibility, faith, family, and freedom.

“With that standard-bearer, I know we are gonna win Pennsylvania and we are gonna win back America,” said Pence.

When asked if the Republicans could win without having Pennsylvania, Pence said, “I don’t want to find out.”

The former Vice President was also asked about the issue of fentanyl, particularly in New Hampshire where the Republican primary winner could get a boost in their chances of facing Joe Biden in November.

While acknowledging the materials for fentanyl are starting in China, Pence says the cartels in Mexico are bringing it into the United States, which he says is “claiming lives across New Hampshire every week and in every community in this country.”

An endorsement that could help a primary candidate win New Hampshire is that of Republican Governor Chris Sununu, who decided not to run for president in 2024. Pence said Sununu has “led the state with great distinction” whom he considers a friend.

“If I ever had the opportunity to earn his support it’d be a very good day for my campaign, I can assure you.”

In South Carolina, where Republicans vote in February, military bases play a critical role in the state’s economy. Pence says he has pledged to add more than $1 trillion into supporting the military.

Off-shore drilling, another issue important to South Carolinians, is something Pence says he supports, as long as it’s beyond the line of sight from the beaches. Pence says he wants to open areas such as Alaska to more drilling as gas prices remain high across the country.

“I do believe that the strength of our nation going forward, the strength of our economy going forward, depends on having a president that makes it possible for us to develop all the resources of our land, and I will.”