Vice President Mike Pence leaves Vice President Mike Pence as Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) (L) and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) listen prior to a press conference on oversight of the CIA and program of enhanced interrogation to counter terrorism at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, U.S., June 28, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Vice President Mike Pence left the impression on Tuesday he is not afraid to go after the most important conservative political opponent to Democratic presidential candidates in a bid to win over the crucial “blue” state party loyalists at the center of the 2020 Democratic Party contest.

Speaking at a party fund-raiser and party convention in Cleveland, Indiana, Pence criticized U.S. President Donald Trump’s approval ratings and told activists gathered to push Democratic nominee against Republicans that anyone who doubted his conservatism or his commitment to the progressive agenda was foolish.

“If people wish to question our conservative principles and our commitment to progressive causes, they should not hesitate to point to our record on an agenda that has dramatically advanced this country’s economic growth,” Pence said.

He voiced appreciation for the irony that his two daughters were encouraged to attend the event by Clinton Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who performed at the same event and claimed the prize for “leader in the ages.”

Pence did not mention Trump by name but made it clear he was not referring to the president as an opponent of his agenda.

“We are going to carry on this progressive agenda,” he said.

Democrats hope to gain control of the U.S. House of Representatives in next year’s midterm elections, although they already control the Senate.

Pence said he and the new Democratic governor of Indiana were aware of Clinton’s criticism of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee line-up of Democrats.

“We see good people at this event, too, and I hope you see them as well,” Pence said.

The vice president stressed the importance of a broad partnership in the Democratic Party.

“As Democrat, Republicans, and independents, Democrats can count on us to protect freedom and the American dream,” he said.