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Interview of the Vice President by Storme Warren of Sirius XM

October 05, 2017

Q: Hi Mr. Vice President. It's Storme Warren with "The Highway." It is an honor to speak to you this morning.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Storme, it's my great honor to be on your program and thank you for your courage, for your compassion, and your voice in this very, very difficult time since the tragic events of Sunday night.

Q: Yeah, Mr. Vice President, we're all still kind of reeling from it -- those of us who were there and those of us who just watched on television. Different experiences but I think it's the same emotions.

I've broken them down to the best of my ability, and I think at this point, we're all looking for just some voices of reassurance -- voices of comfort -- in this. And I think at this point, coming from the White House and coming from Washington, is a place we're really targeting our focus right now. And so this is really important to have this conversation with you, and I can't thank you for giving your time, enough.

But the first thing, like when the event was happening, and the question we all had in our minds was, what is happening? Did you have that same thought as you heard the news breaking?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, we did. It was -- like every American, my family was shocked and saddened by news of the events in Las Vegas. I can't, for the life of me, imagine what it was like to be there, Storme. And God bless you and everyone who was present, the victims that are recovering from injuries and of course the families of those that we lost.

But I have to tell you, we find comfort in our family in the Good Book. We mourn with those who mourn, it says, we grieve with those who grieve but we do not grieve like those who have no hope. Our faith gives us hope. But I must tell you that we also draw hope from the courage, the selflessness of the American people.

And as I read the stories, as we hear the accounts -- I know the President was deeply moved, along with the First Lady yesterday meeting with victims, meeting with first responders -- to hear that one story after another of selfless heroism; people who put themselves in harm's way, without regard to their personal safety; people that saved lives; the way our first responders moved so quickly, so immediately -- it is one of those moments, I believe, Storme -- and the President believes, as well -- where when we see the worst among the American people, our best comes out. And the President and the First Lady saw that yesterday and that gives us hope and it gives us strength.

Q: And I think you're very accurate because we witnessed it firsthand -- the compassion and the selflessness that was going on all around us. There was a never a sense of true panic there. There was a sense of true needing to provide safety and comfort for people. Even though people were scared and running around and trying to figure things out, the first thought on everybody's mind was like, what could we do to help? Where do we need to go? Are you okay? I'm not okay; where could I get help?

And it was there in so many different ways from pickup trucks, to stretchers made out of bike racks to -- I mentioned this the other day -- and I said, it is weird to think that there is a silver lining on such a horrific event, but I think that's it. And I think you put it into words perfectly, Mr. President -- Mr. Vice President.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I'm very humbled by that, coming from you, Storme. And you have put into words with great eloquence and over the course of the last several days. But the President and I know, what you know -- no natural disaster, no act of violence will ever diminish the strength and goodness of the American people.

What we saw Sunday night -- what -- as those of us had looked on from afar, what you saw firsthand, was that strength, that goodness, that selflessness. One of the stories that touched me deeply was an Army veteran who spent two years in Iraq, whose girlfriend called him from the scene and said, Mom is shot, shots have been fired, I need you here. Aaron Stalker sprang into action. He arrives on the scene, by accounts, he can't immediately find his girlfriend and her mom but -- so he starts carrying people off the field. In the midst of all that violence and -- one story after another.

I know the President heard them yesterday. I spoke to the President last night, after he arrived from Las Vegas and I know he was deeply moved, deeply moved to speak to families of those who were recovering from injuries and to speak to the first responders who literally flowed into this hail of gunfire.

And I want to assure your -- all of your listeners all across the country, Storme, we're bringing the full resources of the federal government, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security. Working with local officials, we're going to continue to drive forward don this investigation.

But to your point, what we know for sure is there were heroes on that field. There were inspiring Americans that we lost that night. We think of a financial planner who was on a birthday trip, Steven Berger. We think of a police officer, Charleston Hartfield, who coached youth football. We think of one person after another and I just -- I can't help but think of that other Bible verse that, "the Lord is close to the brokenhearted," and I hope all of your listeners will remember to avail themselves of maybe just that prayer for the families of those that we lost that night.

Q: I couldn't think of a more accurate verse, Mr. Vice President. Between Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, and now this mass shooting in Las Vegas, our country music audience, we're a family here, Mr. Vice President, the "Highway" family is a true family of country music lovers. And we treat each other like a family. So we're all going through this together but there is a sense of like, disaster fatigue going on -- and compassion fatigue. And trying to just grasp on to whatever we can for the hope and humanity for the future. That's why we're desperately trying to find the fuel for us from.

And I think that's why we're looking to you to and to the President and to other leaders to help guide us through this.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, we will press on -- we'll persevere. I can assure you, President Trump and I have an unshakable faith in the American people. And faith in God sustains us in these times.

One of the most deeply moving aspects of the account of that night -- and you were there, Storme -- was before Jason Aldean took the stage, that everyone sang "God Bless America." I think the last time I remember being that moved by that account was when I stood on the steps of the United States Capitol on September 11th, 2001, and that same song broke out. It was so moving for me to hear that that crowd had joined in virtually unanimous chorus, that very night.

And I think knowing that, being confident of that, God has blessed this country. He'll continue to see us through the challenges of natural disasters, of acts of violence, and we will do as Americans have always done, we'll overcome. We'll emerge stronger. My wife and I are headed to Puerto Rico later this afternoon, and to the U.S. Virgin Islands to follow on the President and the First Lady's visit there earlier this week. We'll emerge strong from all of this, Storme, because that's what Americans do.

Q: No, absolutely --

THE VICE PRESIDENT: We stand with our faith and we stand with each other.

Q: Totally agree. "God Bless America" was a magical moment. We didn't realize how magical it would actually -- soon come even more so. I stood on the very same spot on the stage filming "God Bless America" as the spot, just an hour and a half later, bullets were landing at our feet. So it was a very powerful transition at the same spot on that stage.

To the country music audience, with the biggest question now -- I'll leave you with this one question, sir, Mr. Vice President. Is can we be reassured that we're not going to see this again?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, we're going to -- we're first and foremost going to be with the community, not just in the Las Vegas but people gathered from all over the country who've suffered loss. The families of the fallen, we're going to be there for them. We're going to be there with those that are recovering and with all of those impacted -- like you, Storme, -- by this horrific event.

Secondly, we're going to get to the bottom of this. We're going to find out what happened here. We're going to do our very level best to find out why. If there were others involved, we're going to hold them to the very strictest account.

But at the end of the day, we're going to go forward and we're going to be stronger for it. I truly do believe that the people gathered on that field represent the best of us in this country. Maybe I'm a little biased. I'm a country music fan. (Laughter.) You could grab my iPhone and find Alan Jackson, Toby Keith, Kenny Chesney, and you could find a lot of Jason Aldean. I became a big fan of his with the song "Fly Over States," talked about Indiana. (Laughter.) I literally got a lump in my throat the first time I heard Jason Aldean sing, have you ever been to Indiana? And I know the character of people who cherish country music. I sense it. I share their values, their sense of community, and I know we'll come through this stronger and better than ever before.

Q: That's why I think you're such an amazing voice right now. You're speaking directly to our "Highway" family. Mr. Vice President, thank you so much for taking the time to address the horrific events of the past few days and to give us a sense of even more hope for the future. I really appreciate your time, sir.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, Storme, thank you. Thank you for your example. Thank you for your compassion and your courage. God bless you and your family and all of the families affected by this horrific attack in Las Vegas.

Q: Thank you. The Vice President of the United States, Mike Pence, God bless you.


Mike Pence, Interview of the Vice President by Storme Warren of Sirius XM Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/331595

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