Linthicum Heights, Maryland - Vice President Pence at the 29th Annual Red, White and Blue Dinner:
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, hello, Maryland! (Applause.)
Thank you for that great warm welcome.
My fellow Republicans, it is great to be back in the Free State! (Applause.)
And to Chairman Dirk Haire — Dirk? Where did Dirk go? Dirk, I didn’t even know about that Indiana connection. Give Dirk another round of applause. (Applause.) What a great host, what a great friend, what a great leader.
To Chairman Haire, to my great friend Congressman Andy Harris — (applause) — a strong and principled conservative as you will ever find on Capitol Hill. To the senators who are here, the delegates, all the great conservative leaders who are here tonight, I’m here for one reason and one reason only: because Maryland — and America — need four more years of President Donald Trump! (Applause.)
And as we get started, allow me to bring greetings from that friend of mine. (Laughter.) I told him I was headed this way with hundreds of great friends in Maryland. And he just wanted me to be sure and say hello. So allow me to bring greetings straight from the Oval Office, from a man who is going to lead us to victory in 2020. I bring greetings from the 45th President of the United States of America President Donald Trump. (Applause.) What a great night.
You know, it’s really the greatest honor of my life to serve as Vice President to President Donald Trump. He and I have become good friends over the last three years. And I’ve seen him up close and personal, but America has seen him for what he is as well: He’s a leader who says what he means and means what he says. He’s a President who gets up every day and fights to keep the promises that he made to the American people. And we’ve been keeping promises every day since Election Day 2016. (Applause.)
I mean, I’ll never forget it. I see a lot of friends; a lot of you were in Cleveland for that national convention. It was an incredible experience for me. I mean, I’ll never forget, the convention was all over — and our candidate, I got into the car with him because we headed off to campaign together for three days. It was an amazing experience. And I climbed into his vehicle and sat next to him. And those of you that know him know he’s — he’s more “coach” than “general manager.” (Laughter.) You know?
So he sits down next to me — we were still getting to know each other all through the process, right? And I’d just been — he’d just been nominated as the Republican nominee for the President of the United States. The night before then, I was nominated as Vice President. But he sits down next to me and he says — he said, “Mike.” He said, “The convention is over, but now,” he said, “we’re just going to have to work. We’re going to have to go all across this country.”
He goes, “I know you’re governor of Indiana, but whatever time you can spare, we’re going to work. I’m going to north, and you need to go south.” And I said, “You got it.” He said, “I go east, you go west.” I said, “You bet.” He goes, “We’re going to work, we’re going to work, we’re going to work. We’re going to carry our message to everywhere in this country, because we can win this thing.” And I said — I called him “Donald” back then. I said, “Donald, you got it. I’m in. I’m all in.” And he said, “Because Mike, we’re going to have to work.” (Laughter.)
He said, “We’re going to have to take this — we’re going to have to carry this message. I believe this is a message America wants to hear to make America great again, but we got to carry the message everywhere. And we got to work. And we got to work. We got to work.” I said, “I’m in. I’m all in.” (Laughter.) And then he looked at me after he said, “We’re going to work and work and work,” and then he paused, and he said, “Then the Election Day is going to come; we’re going to win, and then, it’s going to be great.” (Laughter and applause.)
And my fellow Republicans, he was right! Since Election Day 2016, we’ve been making America great again! (Applause.) It’s been great. Am I right? (Laughter.) I mean — (laughs) — when you look back over the last two and a half years, under President Donald Trump’s leadership, I think there’s only one way you can describe it: It’s been two years of actions. It’s been two years of results. It’s been two and a half years of promises made and promises kept. And we’re just getting started, Maryland! (Applause.)
I mean, this President said that we’re going to make America great again, and that’s just exactly what we’ve done, my fellow Republicans, in just two and a half short years.
I mean, this President promised to revive the American economy. I mean, the economy of this country, over the previous eight years — the most powerful economy in the history of the world had grown by less than 2 percent. We’d lost more than 200,000 manufacturing jobs across the country. And we actually had — in the last President, we had a President that said you were never going to be able to get them back.
But this President had a different vision. As a businessman-turned-President, he knew that if we rolled back red tape, if we unleashed American energy, if we fought for fair and reciprocal trade deals, if we let Americans and American businesses keep more of what we earned, that the American economy would come roaring back. And that’s exactly what he did. And that’s exactly what’s happening today. (Applause.) The American economy is booming thanks to the leadership of President Donald Trump and our Republican allies in the Congress!
It’s amazing. I mean, think about it: Since Election Day, businesses large and small — including here in Maryland — have created 5.8 million new jobs. I checked on my way here; that includes 50,000 jobs right here in the great state of Maryland. (Applause.)
The unemployment rate is at a 50-year low. It’s the lowest unemployment ever recorded for Hispanic Americans and African Americans. And it’s a 60-year low for unemployment for women in America. The American Dream is working again for every American, thanks to President Donald Trump. (Applause.)
I mean, jobs are back. Confidence is back. In a word: America is back. And we’re just getting started, my fellow Republicans.
But all of that is the beginning of the argument of why we need four more years of President Donald Trump in the White House, Maryland. (Applause.)
But, you know, it’s not just been about the economy. This President promised to rebuild our military after years of reckless cutbacks. And I have to tell you, as the proud father of a United States Marine —
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Semper Fi! (Applause.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: — I couldn’t be more proud. I couldn’t be more proud to serve alongside a President who cares so deeply about the men and women of our Armed Forces and their families.
This President promised to rebuild our military, and he’s done it. We’re restoring the arsenal of democracy. And President Trump signed the largest increase in our national defense since the days of Ronald Reagan. (Applause.)
With that renewed American strength, he promised to stand up to our enemies and stand with our allies. As I stand before you today, I couldn’t be more proud. Under this Commander-in-Chief’s leadership, our Armed Forces have captured every last inch of ISIS territory in Syria and Iraq. (Applause.) He stood up to our enemies. And this President moved our embassy to our cherished ally, Israel. The American embassy is in Jerusalem, the capital of the State of Israel! (Applause.)
This President also promised our veterans to get the care that they earned in the uniform of the United States. You know, I can’t come to a Republican dinner without being aware that there are lots of men and women in the room who’ve worn the uniform of this country. So, if you’re able, would you mind just standing up? The veterans in the room, would you just stand up and give us a chance, one more time, to say thank you? Thank you for your service. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you for your service. And thank you for our freedom.
This President promised to give our veterans access to world-class, real-time healthcare that you earned in the uniform of the United States. And this President delivered. We have all new accountability at the VA. And Veterans Choice is now the permanent law of the land in the VA. (Applause.)
And this President also promised — after many difficult years under the last administration where it seemed like the reflex in high office was to blame men and women in law enforcement first when tragedy would strike — President Trump promised to stand with the men and women of law enforcement at every level. And we’ve given them the resources and the respect that they earn every single day. Would you all mind standing up and showing all these law enforcement personnel who are here just how much we appreciate the job they do to protect our families? (Applause.)
With the strong commitment to law enforcement and law and order, I’m pleased to report to my fellow Republicans, violent crime across this country is down. And we’re waging an unprecedented fight against opioid abuse and addiction.
And in the last 12 months, opioid prescriptions are down by more than 17 percent. And overdoses from opioids are beginning to decline in America. We are making progress on this scourge that is tearing apart our families.
And with that, another reflection of that renewed commitment to law and order, this President — this President promised to appoint strong and principled conservatives to our federal courts at every level. (Applause.) And as I stand before you today, 114 conservatives confirmed to our federal courts, all who will uphold the God-given liberties enshrined in our Constitution like the freedom of religion, the freedom of speech, and the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. (Applause.) They are conservatives all. (Applause.)
One-hundred and fourteen on the bench. And I don’t even think that includes Justice Neil Gorsuch or Justice Brett Kavanaugh. (Applause.) I mean, it’s a record, my fellow Republicans. It’s a record of strength at home, of commitment to law and order, a commitment to that strong, constitutional foundation, and growth and prosperity.
But it’s also a commitment to our values. I mean, it’s amazing to think we live in a time when leading Democrats are advocating late-term abortion and some are even defending what amounts to infanticide. And now there seems to be a litmus test in the Democrat campaign for their nomination that public funding of abortion is now required all through pregnancy, no exceptions.
Well, let me say I couldn’t be more proud to serve alongside a President who stands without apology for the sanctity of human life. (Applause.) President Donald Trump is the most pro-life President in American history. (Applause.) It’s true.
So we’ve made great progress. We have a great story to tell. In the midst of that progress, I come to you tonight, my fellow Republicans, because I think all of you know that, even now, some of our political opponents and critics in the media are starting to realize we have a crisis at our southern border. And it’s like nothing we’ve ever seen before.
I mean, today, for the first time ever, hundreds of thousands of people coming across our southern border illegally. For the first time ever, the illegal immigrants coming into our country are families, the vast majority of which are bringing minors with them. They’re literally being enticed by human traffickers and drug cartels. They charge, we hear, about $5,000 a person to encourage people to take the long and dangerous journey up the Peninsula to our southern border, facing violence along the way and unspeakable abuse along the way.
We’re on track, this year, for nearly a million people to cross our southern border. You know, it’s amazing to think, the Democrats and much in the media have spent the last six months saying it was a manufactured crisis. Remember that? But they’re not saying that so much anymore.
But as they denied the crisis, we watched Democrats deny more funding for humanitarian aid, for facilities to support the courageous men and women of Customs and Border Protection who serve at our border each and every day in a system and in facilities that are overwhelmed by this crisis.
Every American should be proud of the courageous service of the men and women of Customs and Border Protection and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. (Applause.)
But Democrats, for months, have simply denied that there was a crisis. And you deserve to know, my fellow Republicans, they denied this President and this administration and our Customs and Border Protection the resources to deal with it.
It was back in January that we were asking Democrats to give us more bed space in detention facilities because we saw the crisis that was unfolding, despite their denials.
Well, in the midst of that Democrat obstruction, I’m proud to report to my fellow Republicans, President Trump has still taken decisive action to end the crisis at our southern border.
Under the President’s leadership, we’ve made historic investments in border security. And after the President declared a national emergency in January of this year, we’ve already started to build that wall on the southern border of the United States. And we’ll have 400 miles done by the end of next year. (Applause.)
But we know it won’t just take supporting the men and women who serve in law enforcement on the border and building that wall. We’ve also got to bring about changes and reforms in what’s happening at our border. That’s the truth of it. That’s why the President and I and our entire administration have continued to call on Congress to close the loopholes that human traffickers used to entice people to make that journey. Congressman Andy Harris has been a tremendous voice in the Congress on this issues. And I couldn’t be more grateful. (Applause.)
The human traffickers point to policies, the loopholes like catch-and-release, and they literally tell people that if you will bring a child with you to the border, regardless of the risk to that little one, that you’ll be able to take advantage of loopholes.
So we’ve called on the Congress every day to work with us to close the loopholes. And as we’ve stood and demanded that Congress do their job, we’ve also demanded that our partners to the south do more.
Many of you remember, just a few short weeks ago, when President Trump said it was time for Mexico to step up. He said that we were going to begin to assess tariffs on all goods coming in from Mexico at our southern border unless Mexico did more to help secure our border and to secure their border. And thanks to President Trump’s leadership, Mexico stepped up. (Applause.) Six thousand national guard to their border with Guatemala. And now they’ve agreed to take 100 percent of the Central Americans back into Mexico to remain there while we process their asylum claims.
I mean, it’s amazing to think, as I stand before you today, Mexico has done more to secure our border in the last 10 days than Democrats in Congress have done in the last 10 years. (Applause.) And the American people deserve to know it.
The President is doing his job. Our courageous Border Patrol agents, I promise you, are doing their job every day with professionalism and compassion. And, my fellow Republicans, it’s time for Democrats in Congress to do their job. (Applause.) Pass more support for Customs and Border Protection and close the loopholes that human traffickers are using to exploit vulnerable families. And do it now!
And I’ll make you a promise: Whatever Democrats want to do to continue to try and deny and obstruct our efforts to address this crisis, we’re going to build that wall. We’re going to secure our border. And however long it takes, we’re going to fix this broken immigration system once and for all. That’s a promise. (Applause.)
So we’ve made great progress, my fellow Republicans. Obviously, we have challenges before us. But this President’s leadership is leaning into those challenges. And the truth is, in just two and a half years under President Donald Trump, America is standing tall again. We’re making progress again. We’re winning again. And we’re respected again around the world.
And as the President said just last week when he and I went down to Orlando — (applause) — 20,000 people inside the building — when the President announced his intention to run for four more years, he said these words, and I quote: President Trump said, “We’re not going back.” We’re going to keep on fighting for every man, woman, and child all across this land. With every ounce of heart and might and sweat and soul, we are going to making America great again. (Applause.) That’s our cause. That’s our cause, my fellow Republicans.
We’re going to keep making America great again. To do that, we got to re-elect the President who’s been fighting for the American people to put America first every single day.
You know, we’ve done so much in just two and a half short years, but we have much more to do. And the truth is, after fighting for you, we need four more years of President Donald Trump in the White House to do it. Four more years means more jobs. Four more years means more judges, more support for our troops. Four more years means securing our border. And in four more years, we’re going to drain that swamp. (Applause.)
Now, so America has a choice. And, my fellow Republicans, we got to do our part to make sure they understand that. You know, the choice in this election couldn’t be clearer, and the stakes couldn’t be higher.
I mean, today, we have a President who loves this country, who never quits, never backs down; who believes in the American people and the boundless potential of every American to live the American Dream. And, in President Donald Trump, we have a President who believes in freedom.
Now, the Democrats, for their part — as I’m sure if you have nothing else to do — (laughter) — you might see on TV a couple nights this week — their candidates are pretty uniform: more taxes, more regulation, and less freedom.
I mean, it’s amazing to think that, today, today’s Democrats openly advocate an economic system that has impoverished millions around the world and deprived the liberties of generations. And that system is socialism.
My fellow Republicans, I don’t need to tell you, but we need to tell our neighbors and friends: It was freedom, not socialism, that gave us the most prosperous and powerful nation in the history of the world. (Applause.)
It was freedom, not socialism, that ended slavery, won two world wars, and stands today as a beacon of hope for all the world. It was freedom. (Applause.)
And that’s our cause. That’s our message. That’s what we got to talk to people about, isn’t it, Andy? I mean, when I think of the storied history of freedom here in Maryland, it gives me chills. As an undergraduate, I studied American colonial history. When I was a member of Congress, I remember we loaded the kids up in the minivan and we drove up to Annapolis. We saw the Naval Academy, but I also wanted to go into that state house. I wanted to walk in those halls where the Congress of the United States met as the Revolutionary War came to an end.
And that amazing moment that’s captured in a mural in the United States Capitol Rotunda, it happened right here, in Maryland. You all know the story, but it’s one we don’t talk about enough. It speaks to the character of our first President, and it speaks to the devotion of that first generation of Americans to freedom.
And George Washington rides to Annapolis, surrounded by his generals, having won a revolution, and he proceeds to turn in his commission to a popularly elected Congress. It was an amazing moment in human history. I mean, with the possible exception of Cincinnatus, historians tell me, there was never even anything comparable as to when someone won a revolution, to literally, voluntarily, turn over the army to a democratically elected government. But such was the commitment to freedom of George Washington and our countrymen at the birth of this nation. It’s who we are. (Applause.) It’s who we’ve always been.
And I want to submit to you that, you know, it’s not going to be enough in the next 18 months to just win the next election. We got to win the next generation. (Applause.) I mean, Maryland, we got to go tell the story of freedom. And we got to talk about — talk about our policies in the context of those larger ideals. I mean, the truth is, what Medicare for All really means is quality healthcare for none. (Applause.)
And the only thing green about the so-called Green New Deal is how much green it’s going to cost all of us if they ever pass any of it into law. (Applause.)
You know, Margaret Thatcher probably said it best: “The trouble with Socialism is [you]…eventually run out of other people’s money.”
And I’ll say to you from my heart: The moment America becomes a socialist country is the moment that America ceases to be America. And so I want to say to each and every one of you, as this campaign season begins, my fellow Republicans, we must say to our countrymen as the President said in his State of the Union address, with one voice: America will never be a socialist country. (Applause.) That’s the choice. That’s our choice. That’s our choice, my fellow Republicans.
The choice in this next election is not just going to be a choice between two candidates in November of 2020. It will be a choice between two futures: a future of more freedom or a future of more government and less freedom.
And let me say as I close and, I think, get out of the way of your dinner — (laughter) — first, let me just — this is my first time to say to all of my fellow Republicans from all across Maryland: Thank you for the honor of serving as your Vice President. Thank you. It is the greatest honor of my life. (Applause.)
But I want to challenge you tonight. You know, on Election Night 2016, I’ll never forget — I forget what time it was — about breakfast. (Laughter.) It was so late it was early. But remember when President Trump stood up in front of that crowd up in New York? He said he promised to be, in his words, “President for all Americans.”
And so in the campaign ahead, I want to promise you the President and I, my fellow Republicans, we need to take our message to all Americans. (Applause.) Every big city and small town; every race and creed and color.
And here’s our message. Here’s our message for your neighbors and friends: If you’re doing better than you were three years ago, join us, because they most likely are. (Laughter.) If your values are being better defended by this President and in the institutions of this nation, then join us. If you’re proud to have a President who fights for you and always puts America first, join us. My fellow Republicans, we take that case to all Americans, and we will re-elect President Donald Trump for four more years. I believe it with all my heart. (Applause.) But we got to go tell the story. We got to go tell the story.
Now, just like the last time around, the pollsters tell us it’s not going to be that easy. I don’t know. I don’t know. Remember all the polls in the last election? (Laughter.) I didn’t believe in that either. I mean, the truth is — the truth is, you know better.
I mean, I got to tell you — and I saw some folks out at the airport when I arrived, and I see people as I travel all across this country — I think the promise of what this President said we could do for this country to make America great again, the enthusiasm that generation — generated is not to be compared with the enthusiasm that I sense across America, who have seen this President do it; who have seen us, as Republicans, deliver on it in ways that are creating prosperity and security, and renewing the constitutional foundations of our country and our ideals.
It’s — I just sense more energy and more enthusiasm across America today. And I’m absolutely convinced we made history in 2016, and we’re going to make history again in 2020 when we re-elect the 45th President of the United States of America. (Applause.) It’s going to happen.
But just like last time, it’s going to take all of us to do it. So, Maryland, we need you to do all you can do. Whatever you did before, do it again. Carry the message out across this great state to people that you know across this great country.
I mean, as the campaign for 2020 begins again, I want to challenge you. I want to challenge you to have faith, right? I mean, have faith in the American people.
You know, I really do believe that if you look in the long and storied history of this country, that every time the American people have been presented a choice between more freedom and more government, they choose more freedom every single time. (Applause.) So have faith in the American people that if we take that message to them, they’ll respond.
Have faith in this President that we elected two and a half years, and the team he’s surrounded him with, and these extraordinary leaders in the Congress who are fighting every day to keep the promises that they made to the American people.
And finally, I encourage you, as we began this evening, to have that other kind of faith too — faith that He who blessed this country from those very early days, in the hallways of that capitol building in Annapolis, will yet bless America far beyond all we could ask or imagine.
So let’s go to work, my fellows Republicans, but let’s also pray. And on this one, I know we’re members of a political party, and we got a fixed direction for this country. But on this one, I just encourage you to pray for all of the American people. (Applause.) Pray for this nation, for the prosperity and security of every American in this one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. Because I think prayer matters. (Applause.) So avail yourself.
So I leave you here tonight to what I know will be a great dinner. (Laughter.) It smelled good when I was coming in. (Laughter.) I just — I leave here with renewed optimism that if all of us do all that we can, from here in Maryland and all across these United States, that with your continued support, with renewed strong, conservative leadership, a renewed Republican majority in the United States Senate, and a new Republican majority in the House of Representatives — (applause) — with strong Republican leadership all across this state at every level, with President Donald Trump in the White House, and with God’s grace, we will make America safe again, we will make America prosperous again, and we will make America greater than every before. (Applause.)
Thank you very much, Maryland. (Applause.) God bless you, and God bless America. Let’s go get it done!