Return to Transcripts main page
CNN News Central
Pence Officially Launches Presidential Campaign. Aired 1:30-2p ET
Aired June 07, 2023 - 13:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES & REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And as your vice president, I was proud to stand by President Donald Trump every single day when we made America great again.
PENCE: Everything I am, everything I ever will be, I owe to my family, the people of this country and to Almighty God.
I often think of that verse that King David wrote: "Who am I, and who is my family that you brought me this far?"
You know, I truly do believe in the boundless potential of every American, to live the American dream. But traveling around this country over the past two years since I left office, it feels different, doesn't it?
Talking to our fellow Americans I see weariness on faces everywhere I go and I hear it in their voices. I don't have to tell any of you here this country is in a lot of trouble.
President Joe Biden and the radical left have weakened America at home and abroad. The confidence and pride that once lifted the American spirit to new heights, not so long ago, has given way to fear, and a growing angst that our best days might be in the past.
In many ways, our country has grown barely recognizable than just a few short years ago. There are crises everywhere.
Our border is under siege. Inflation is at a near 40-year high. Gas prices are through the roof. Fertilizer and fuel prices are a working hardship on family farms in Iowa and Indiana and all across the country.
Crime has skyrocketed in our major cities. Real wages are falling. And our national debt is piling up like a mountain range on our children and grandchildren.
And that disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan has emboldened the enemies of freedom around the world. And maybe worst of all, timeless American values are under assault
every day. In classrooms, our children are indoctrinated into radical ideologies and even taught to hate our history.
And from boardrooms, our faith and beliefs are insulted routinely while government agencies target concerned parents and punish consumers in the name of social justice.
We're better than this. This country has been so good to my family and I've been honored to serve it. We both have.
And it would be easy to stay on the sidelines. That's not how I was raised.
I've long believed that to whom much is given much will be required. That's why today, before God and my family, I'm announcing that I'm running for president of the United States of America.
PENCE: I know we can bring this country back and defend our nation and secure our border. We can revive our economy, put our nation back on a path to a balanced federal budget. We can defend our liberties and give America a new beginning for life.
But it'll require new leadership in the White House and the Republican Party. The crises we face, to borrow a phrase, are all man-made. And that man is Joe Biden.
PENCE: So the first step to turning America around is ending this disastrous presidency. So here in Iowa we must resolve that Joe Biden will never be re-elected as president of the United States.
PENCE: We must chart a course for our nation guided by our timeless principles. You know, the Bible says, "Without a vision, the people perish and what's true of a people is also true of nations."
Well, ours will be a vision that's grounded in freedom. We will rebuild our military and make it fitted to the times to defend our freedom in an ever-more turbulent world.
We will end political correctness at the Pentagon. And we will give our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guard the support they need to defend this nation and come home safe. (CHEERING)
PENCE: We'll champion lower taxes at home and extend the historic tax relief of the Trump/Pence administration and give the American people freedom from excessive federal regulations and get back to repealing two federal regulations for every new rule that we put on the books.
PENCE: We'll end Joe Biden's spending spree that is driving innovation and making life more expensive for every American. And we'll set our nation back on a path to a balanced budget.
And make America's government follow the model of families by living within its means.
We'll offer commonsense and compassionate solutions to the debt crisis facing our children and grandchildren. And we'll free future generations from a mountain range of debt.
We'll unleash American energy, open federal lands and America will become energy independent once again.
PENCE: We'll break the unholy alliance between Wall Street and big government that's forcing radical ESG policies on the private sectors.
And when I am president, American families will have a champion in the White House. We will give parents the freedom to choose where their children go to school. We will reject radical propaganda. And we will demand respect for our history and religious freedom.
PENCE: And as your president, I will appoint men and women to our federal courts who will uphold all the God-given liberties enshrined in our Constitution.
The First Amendment, freedom of speech, religion. The Second Amendment, right to keep and bear arms. And they will stand for the sanctity of human life.
PENCE: And in all this work, we will seek not to divide the American people, but instead to appeal to the better angels of their nature. You know, Calvin Coolidge said once, "It is a great advantage to a
president and a major source of safety for the country for him to know that he is not a great man."
This, I know. I must tell you, we, as Americans, have had our fill of politicians who present themselves as great men and women. The last place we ought to look for deliverance is to our government.
What we do seek is leaders, with the courage of their convictions and competence and character. And we offer our services to all of you in that spirit.
PENCE: Now --
PENCE: Now, while some in this contest have already taken to criticizing the record of the Trump/Pence administration, let me be clear, I'm incredibly proud of everything we accomplished for the American people.
PENCE: Together. Together in three short years we cut taxes. We destroyed ISIS. We stood with our allies and stood up to our enemies as never before. We made the strongest military in the history of the world, stronger than ever before.
We gave historic prosperity at home that lifted all Americans regardless of race or creed or color. We achieved energy independence.
And maybe, and maybe, most important of all, it was our administration that appointed three of the justices that sent Roe versus Wade to the ash heap of history where it belongs.
PENCE: We gave America a new beginning for life.
Now, given our record, it might be fair to ask, why I'm challenging my former running mate.
Let me say from my heart, it begins with a promise that I made to the American people and to almighty God, and it ends with different visions for the future of our nation and our party.
January 6th was a tragic day in the life of our nation. But thanks to the courage of law enforcement, the violence was quelled, and we reconvened the Congress the very same day to complete the work of the American people under the Constitution of the United States. As I've said many times, on that fateful day, President Trump's words
were reckless. They endangered my family and everyone at the capital.
But the American people deserve to know that on that day, President Trump also demanded that I choose between him and the Constitution. Now voters will be faced with the same choice. I chose the Constitution. And I always will.
PENCE: Four years earlier, I swore an oath with my hand on my Bible and on Ronald Reagan's Bible to support and defend the Constitution.
The Bible says, "He keeps his oath even when it hurts." And I know something about that.
My son, the Marine, once reminded me, you took the same oath I took, Dad. So I did.
So let me explain. Article II, Section I of the Constitution provides that the president of the Senate, the vice president, shall in the presence of the Senate and the House open all the certificates and the votes shall be counted.
No more, no less.
Despite the fact that the Constitution's language is clear and provides the vice president with no authority to reject or return electoral votes, my former running mate continues to insist that I had the right to overturn the election.
But President Trump was wrong then, and he's wrong now.
I will always believe, by God's grace, I did my duty that day. I kept my oath to ensure the peaceful transfer of power under the Constitution of the United States of America.
PENCE: Let me say from my heart, I understand the disappointment that many still feel about the outcome of the 2020 election. I can relate. I was on the ballot.
PENCE: But I had no right to overturn the election. And Kamala Harris will have no right to overturn the election when we beat them in 2024.
PENCE: Finally, let me say to my countrymen, I'll always be grateful for what President Trump did for this country. I've often prayed for him over the past few years. And I prayed for him again today.
I had hoped he would come around and see that he had been misled about my role that day. But that was not to be.
So let me say I stand before you today as a candidate for president to say that the Republican Party, the Republican Party must be the party of the Constitution of the United States.
PENCE: Look --
PENCE: -- we've had enough of the Democrats and the radical left repeatedly trampling on our Constitution, threatening to pack the court, to dismantle the God-given rights that are enshrined there.
We must stand on the Constitution to protect the God-given right to life. We must stand on the Constitution to protect the right to keep and bear arms. We must stand for the Constitution to protect the right to live, to work, to worship according to the dictates of our faith and conscience.
The American people must know that leaders in the Republican Party will keep our oath to support and defend the Constitution even when it's not in our political interest to do so.
PENCE: And one last word, it, in part, brings us here today. I believe that anyone who puts themselves over the Constitution should never be president of the United States.
And anyone --
PENCE: -- who asks someone else to put them over the Constitution should never be president of the United States again.
PENCE: Our liberties have been bought at too high a price. And how can we ask our men and women in uniform, like the members of our family, to support and defend the Constitution and not demand the same from those who would send them into battle.
As your president I promise you, from the bottom of my heart, I will always stand on the Constitution of the United States. And I will always stand with the men and women of the armed forces of the United States, so help me God.
PENCE: So I said my reasons for being here begin with a day in the past, but elections are about the future. And I believe different times call for different leaders.
And my differences with my former running mate and others who are in this field also have to do with the values and policies upon which we have built this movement and will build this movement for generations to come.
You know, when Donald Trump ran for president in 2016, he promised to govern as a conservative. And together, we did just that.
But today, he makes no such promise. After leading the moist pro-life administration in American history, Donald Trump and others in this race are retreating from the cause of the unborn.
The sanctity of our life has been our party's calling for half a century, long before Donald Trump was a part of it. But now he treats it as an inconvenience, even blaming our election losses in 2022 on overturning Roe v. Wade.
As your president, I will always stand for the sanctity of life. And I will not rest and I will not relent until we restore the sanctity of life to the center of American law in every state in the land.
PENCE: But it's not just values. But it's priorities. Today, we have a national debt the size of our nation's economy for the first time since the end of World War II.
We owe trillions of dollars to our adversaries, $860 billion to China alone.
The biggest drivers of runaway spending are New Deal and Great Society programs upon which Americans depend every day, Social Security and Medicare. They make up 70 percent of the federal budget.
What you deserve to know is Medicare has five years before it goes broke. Social Security has 10 years, if we're lucky. And left unchecked and unreformed, it'll mandate cuts in programs upon which people depend.
[13:50:12] We're still -- if we don't take the opportunity to reform these entitlements today, in 25 years, that $32 trillion will grow to $150 trillion and crush the future of the American economy and opportunities for our children.
Joe Biden's policy is insolvency. But you deserve to know, my fellow Republicans, that Donald Trump's position on entitlement reform is the same. Both refuse to talk about the issue, take it to the American people.
Addressing a looming debt crisis facing those little ones in the years ahead is apparently less important than their short-term political fortunes.
As your president, I promise you I will tell the American people the truth about our debt crisis. And we will offer common-sense and compassionate reforms to save these programs for seniors today and give young Americans a better deal tomorrow.
PENCE: Finally --
PENCE: Finally, it's about America's place in the world and our responsibilities as a beacon of freedom. America is the leader of the free world. We're the arsenal of democracy.
As war rages in eastern Europe, the Chinese military continues its provocations, even through this week against American warships and planes in the Asia-Pacific.
Donald Trump and others who would seek the presidency would walk away from our traditional role on the world stage.
Russia invaded and waged war on a sovereign nation, killing hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians. Its army targeted and tortured, destroyed hospitals and schools and left cities in rubble and continues today.
President Trump, he described Vladimir Putin as a genius at the outset of the invasion. And another candidate for the Republican nomination described the invasion of Ukraine as a, quote, "territorial dispute."
I'm going to say, a year ago, Karen and I stood on the Ukraine-Poland border. We went into a relief center and spoke with and embraced heartbroken families who were fleeing the violence.
I promise you, I know the difference between a genius and a war criminal. I know the difference between a territorial dispute and a war of aggression.
The war in Ukraine is not our war, but freedom is our fight. And America must always stand for freedom.
PENCE: And when I'm your president, we will.
PENCE: You know what President Trump and others are forgetting is that our administration succeeded not because we compromised or abandoned conservative principles but because we acted on them.
I know we can beat Joe Biden, but we must resist the politics of personality and the siren song of populism unmoored to conservative principles.
And we must stand firm on a traditional Republican agenda of a strong national defense, fiscal responsibility, and traditional values that led us to victory in the past and will lead us to victory again.
PENCE: So as Republicans here in Iowa and across the country begin the process of choosing our standard bearer in 2024, one more reminder. We cannot expect to unite the nation around an agenda of a politics based on grudges and grievances.
You know, Joe Biden promised to restore decency and civility if he was elected president. He broke that promise on day one. He's continually vilified those of us that disagree with him. And he even vilified members of his own party.
You know, I believe that democracy depends on heavy doses of civility. Traveling across this country the past two years, I've heard consistently from our fellow Americans that they're looking for new leadership but leadership that could unite our country around our highest ideals.
And leadership that would respect the civility that most Americans show one another every day.
You know, after we moved back to Indiana, I'd like to say -- once you get 15 miles out of Washington, D.C., the people of in country actually get along pretty well most days.
PENCE: Our politics are more divided than ever before, but I'm not convinced our country is as divided as our politics.
Most Americans treat each other with kindness and respect, even when we disagree. We know how to be good neighbors. That's not too much to ask our leaders to do the same.
Sadly, it's clear that neither Joe Biden or Donald Trump share this belief, and neither of them intend to even try to bring our country together.
I believe it's not just about civility. To craft real solutions to the monumental challenges the American people are facing at home and abroad, we need leaders who will lead with respect for every American.
PENCE: Winston Churchill said once, memorably, "You'll never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every barking dog."
We need leaders who can distinguish between starting fights and finishing them. Between the politics of outrage and standing firm.
You know, I learned a long time ago that the best way to fight and win for the American people is to stand your ground.
In Congress, I stood against big government Republicanism, No Child Left Behind, entitlement expansion. And I led the fight against the Wall Street bailout.
We faced great pressure from a Republican president at the time, but we stood firm.
As Indiana's governor, we fought to cut taxes, to roll back regulations, expand educational choice, and battle back against the teachers' unions.
And I stood for religious liberty against the Woke brigades long before Woke was even a thing.
And as vice president, I stood by my president and our agenda in the face of withering media attacks every day.
And in the end, I stood my ground for the oath I'd taken to the Constitution.
As your president, I will not yield an inch in defending America, our people, or our values. But I promise you I will do so in a way --
PENCE: -- consistent with the character and decency of the American people.
We will restore a threshold of civility in public life so we can bring real solutions to the challenges facing our nation.
PENCE: We gather today at a difficult point in the life of our nation. Americans are frustrated and anxious. So much has been lost in such a short period of time.
But despair is not in our nature. Surrender is not in the American vocabulary.
I love this country. I've dedicated my life to serving it. So I have a few things to ask.
First, I ask for your support. I believe in my heart that we can turn this country around. What we did once, we will do again. What we had not long ago we will have once more but even better.
Secondly, I ask you to remember who we are and remember what we've done. You know, a careful study of American history shows that every time the American people have been called upon to do hard things, the American people have always risen to the challenge.