Remarks by the Vice President at the 2019 House Republican Conference Member Retreat in Baltimore, Maryland
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Steve. And hello, House Republicans! (Applause.) It is great to be here.
To Leader McCarthy, Whip Scalise, Conference Chair Cheney, NRCC Chairman Tom Emmer, leaders all: It is great to be back at the House Republican Conference Retreat just 416 days from when we elect a Republican majority in the House of Representatives and reelect President Donald Trump for four more years. (Applause.)
And I want to thank you all for the warm welcome. And I bring greetings from a friend of mine who I spoke to this morning, who spoke to you last night. And I've got to tell you, I hope you saw that enthusiasm and the support. And I'm here to tell you once again, as he told you last night, President Trump and I are absolutely committed to seeing a Republican majority back in the United States House of Representatives after 2020. (Applause.)
And we love this leadership team. We really do. These are all friends of mine. As Steve said, I served with so many of you in this room, and I've served with you in this capacity now, and I just admire each and every one of the men and women in this room.
But I'll tell you, if there is anyone in America who has worked harder for this Republican majority — as the majority in the conference in the United States than Kevin McCarthy, I can't think of it. Will you all just join me in thanking Leader Kevin McCarthy for all he has done to fight for the values and ideals that we care about? (Applause.) Take a bow, Kevin. Will you please? (Applause.)
And we all know the man the President likes to call "the legend" from Louisiana. But beyond his extraordinary demonstration of personal courage, through an incredible travail, I have come to know and you all have witnessed in your Minority Whip, Steve Scalise, a man of principle, a man dedicated to the conservative agenda. And he's doing a phenomenal job for this conference. (Applause.) Let's hear it for Steve Scalise one more time. (Applause.)
And to the whole leadership team, I had a chance to visit with you all a few minutes ago. Just, thank you for what you all are doing for America. I know it's a challenging time to be in the minority. When I served in the Congress for 12 years, I was in the majority and I was in the minority, and then I was in the majority again, just like you all are going to be. And we're truly grateful to each and every one. And it's a joy to be with you today.
It's a special joy to be here with someone who I know is the most popular Pence in the house. She just met with all the wonderful spouses that are gathered here today. I'm telling you what: She is a tireless champion of military families. She's actually a Marine Corps mom herself, and she's also the Second Lady of the United States of America. Would you all give Karen Pence a good, warm House Republican Conference welcome and thanks for all she's done? (Applause.)
You know, Karen and I do this as a team, just like all of you do. So if I could just ask all the spouses in the room to stand up and give us a chance to show how much we appreciate the spouses who are standing with us every single day. (Applause.) Thank you for what you do for America. And God bless you.
It is really — it is really incredible to be with you all. It really is. You know, Steve introduced me. He said I'm a man of the House. And it's how I'll always feel. And those years of serving in the House of Representatives were not only defining years in my life, but they were the culmination of aspiration.
When I was a little boy, my only dream — my only dream was to someday represent my hometown in the Congress of the United States. And by God's grace and the generosity of the people of Eastern Indiana, I had the opportunity to do that. So I know what a privilege this is for all of you. And I know the challenges that come for you and your families. And I just came here, first and foremost, to say thanks.
I want to say thank you — thank you to this entire team — and to say to each and every one of you, on behalf of the President of the United States, his Vice President, and our entire team, we are with you today, we'll be with you tomorrow, and we're going to fight every day through Election Day for a Republican victory in 2020. (Applause.)
And we got a little foreshadow of it this week. I'll tell you what: It's fun for me. The first person I spotted in the crowd when I came out from backstage is the newly elected congressman from the North Carolina's Ninth Congressional District, Dan Bishop. Congratulations. We are proud to see you join this team. (Applause.)
What an incredible day. I was out there campaigning early in the day. I had a rally early in the day; literally drew hundreds of people. (Laughter.) And then, that night — (laughs) — literally tens of thousands of people turned out. They turned out for this good man, Dan Bishop. They turned out for this President.
But make no mistake about it: They turned out because President Donald Trump promised and House Republicans delivered on an agenda that's causing a safer and more prosperous America every day. That's what they're getting behind. (Applause.) That's right. We heard it. We heard it.
And I got to tell you, it was actually kind of fun for me to watch the media that night. I was watching a few of the channels when I got back from the rally. I mean, I think they were thinking that it was a different outcome coming down. I really do, right?
And even — (laughs) — and even when we posted two great victories — I know Congressman Greg Murphy is not here yet, but when Greg Murphy and Dan Bishop won, it was — there was actually a headline, I think, in one of the Charlotte newspapers the next day that said, "Republican Victories Bode Ill for the GOP." (Laughter.) I was still — (laughs) — did anybody see? Mark, did you see that one? Okay. (Laughter.) I don't know, I'm not tired of winning yet. Any of you tired of winning yet?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I'm telling you, it's just incredible.
But I'm here to say — say how grateful we are. I mean, this is a team — it's been amazing for me to watch, because I know and understand. I know and understand the challenges serving in the House of Representatives in the majority and in the minority.
And I watched this team. When the Republicans held the majority in the House, you all stuck together. Democrats never won a single motion to recommit when Republicans were in the majority. And in the last just few months of this year, the Republican Conference has already won four. You've been standing together for the American people and for our agenda. (Applause.)
And you stood with this President and this administration in an incredible time, holding Democrats accountable for their abdication of leadership — everything from failing to produce a budget.
And this Republican Conference, like no other voices in America, has called the Democrats in Congress out for their reckless, baseless accusations against this President. And the American people are grateful for your voice, for the rule of law, and common sense. (Applause.)
And most importantly of all, you've stood behind this President with an agenda that's causing this country to be safer and more prosperous every day.
I mean, think about it: When I came to the Congressional Retreat in 2017, we were talking about the agenda that the President and I had run on — that every one of you had been talking about for years. In fact, it's incredibly humbling for me to think that, in my first race for Congress, back in the year 2000, I was talking — after the Clinton years, I was talking about an agenda that all of you have talked about: of rebuilding the military, of reviving the economy, of restoring and strengthening the constitutional foundations of our courts in the country. And here we were standing together in early 2017 with an opportunity to do just that. And President Trump promised, and House Republicans delivered. It's truly incredible.
I stand before you today, not just as your Vice President, but as the proud father of a United States Marine. And I'll soon be the father-in-law of a United States Navy pilot. (Applause.) So I want to say thank you for standing with this President in rebuilding the military of the United States of America. We've increased military spending in this country already by the largest amount since the days of Ronald Reagan. We've restored the arsenal of democracy. (Applause.)
And with that renewed American strength, America is respected in the world again. Our allies are doing more than ever before in our common defense. And we've seen even rogue states like North Korea coming to the table to begin discussions about achieving peace. And that's because we all know, as Republicans, what this President knows: that peace can only be achieved through strength.
But it wasn't just about security and the common defense, but it was also about reviving this economy. It's amazing to think, the last eight years, the most powerful economy in the history of the world had only grown by less than 2 percent. But because of House Republicans and that majority in the last two years, we were able to cut more federal red tape in two years than any administration in American history.
We unleashed American energy. And next year, the United States will be a net export of energy for the first time in 70 years. And we cut taxes across the board for working families and businesses. And we've created 6.3 million new jobs all across this country. (Applause.) President Trump promised, and House Republicans delivered.
You know, and it's amazing for me to think — you see the promises that we've made: Unemployment is at a 50-year low. Lowest unemployment ever recorded for African Americans, Hispanic Americans. Unemployment for women in this country is at a 65-year low. And as Steve just said, the forgotten men and women of America are forgotten no more.
As wages are rising, they're rising most rapidly for working Americans, blue-collar Americans. And those are the results that House Republicans made possible because of what your majority meant in the first two years in support of this President's agenda.
And it really is remarkable that when you think about what we've been able to accomplish, compare that with what people saw on the debate stage last night alone. And I know you were busy here with the President, but hopefully you caught some of the replays.
You know, here in a booming American economy — where people's 401(k)s are soaring, where unemployment is at a 50-year low, millions of new jobs created; for the first time ever recorded, there are more job openings in America than there are people looking for work in America — there wasn't one single question in the debate last night about the economy. Not one single question, leave aside any answer about it.
I mean, you know, before I lost interest, I was trying to keep track of what was going on. I mean — and, by the way, I heard my predecessor said that — he was answering a question about his years in the White House, and he said, "I'm the Vice President of the United States." So let me be clear: I am the Vice President of the United States of America. (Applause.) We got that out of the way. (Laughter.) Huh?
(Laughs.) But I mean, did you check that agenda last night? I mean, when they weren't talking about socialized medicine, they were talking about open borders. When they weren't talking about higher taxes, they were talking about gun control. And not just gun control. You had leading candidates for the highest office in the land talking about taking firearms away from law-abiding citizens.
Well, the American people deserve to know: This President, this Vice President, and these House Republicans will always stand for the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. (Applause.)
I mean, the truth of the matter is, this Democratic Party is advancing a radical agenda, the likes of which I never imagined I'd see in my lifetime. And it's really fallen to our party. It's fallen to this party to stand for those commonsense principles of a strong national defense; of an accountable, limited federal government; of a pro-growth agenda that is built on the principles of free-market economics.
And the truth of the matter is, it falls to all of us to do that. And I know this House Republican Conference. I know this President. I know Republican leaders in that other chamber down the hallway. I'm serving now as President of the Senate, all right? And so, I just absolutely know that we're up to the challenge to carry those commonsense ideals forward.
And the truth is, you look at everything else that we've done beyond the economy, beyond national security. I couldn't be more proud. I couldn't be more proud that this President promised to bring security at our border to the fore to end the crisis on our southern border, and House Republicans have stood with us every step of the way. (Applause.)
I mean, we have a crisis. We have a crisis on our southern border. And President Trump promised to address it, and House Republicans have stood with us, even in the minority. I mean, you stood strong with this President earlier this year through a government shutdown. You were out there on the airwaves, standing behind the President as we said there's a crisis on the southern border. Remember? And Democrats said it was a manufactured crisis. Do you remember that?
I remember we spent the entire Christmas season on Capitol Hill. I was shuttling back and forth, talking to the leadership of the Democratic Party. We were trying to get them to the table, and they were all denying that there was even a need.
But now they stopped denying that. And you were there to support the President when he declared a national emergency on our southern border. And House Republicans hit the airwaves to support this President using his executive authority to redirect federal funds to build a wall on the southern border of the United States. (Applause.)
And once Democrats figured out that it wasn't a manufactured crisis — it was actually real — it was House Republicans that stood strong with us, with more than $4.5 billion in humanitarian aid to provide support to what's happening on the border.
But then, the President took action. With the support of everybody in this room, the President made it clear to Mexico that they needed to step up, or things were going to change on our border. And I was there with the Secretary of State and our entire team in those discussions.
And just this week, I met again with the Foreign Minister of Mexico. And I couldn't be more proud to report, thanks to President Trump's leadership and your strong support, apprehensions on our southern border are down by 60 percent. (Applause.) And Mexico is doing more to secure our border and theirs than ever before.
Though the truth of the matter is that we've — we've made progress on our southern border because, even in the minority, you've been out there supporting the President's leadership. And you've been — you've been making an incredible difference for the country.
Well, there's an awful lot more I can talk about. I could talk about what you all have done for veterans in supporting the President's initiative with Veterans Choice. I could talk about all you've done to stand — stand up for the values that make this country great. I could talk about our absolute commitment.
As we heard last night, all the — all the talk of socialized medicine. You know, when we reelect this Republican majority, we reelect this President, and we're going to meet the healthcare challenges of the American people. But what we're going to do — and as Republican solutions — is we're going to lower the cost of health insurance without growing the size of government. (Applause.) And we're not going to have socialized medicine; we're going to build on the free market health insurance system that's created the greatest healthcare system that the world has ever known.
And so we've done great things. We fought together. But now, the fight all lies ahead, men and women. As the President said last night, now it's time for us to go tell our story. And that's really what I came here to do. First, to say thank you to you and all of your families for all of the incredible support that you've provided, and the progress that we've made for the American people, making this country safer, more secure, through our national defense, through border security; making our nation more prosperous through tax relief, regulatory reform, energy reform; and supporting the kind of free and fair trade deals that will keep this economy rolling.
And I want to thank you for what you're about to do. Because I know it's going to be House Republicans that lead the way for passage of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. (Applause.)
I mean, building on this momentum, this is — this is a President who, like all of us here, believes in free trade. But he wants it to be fair and reciprocal. And so we engaged in negotiations with our neighbors to the north and south, and the USMCA, when it's passed, will be the largest trade deal in American history. We believe it will create and benefit nearly 2 million manufacturing jobs across the country, and it will create nearly 200,000 new jobs in its early days alone. And Republicans are in the lead on that. You've been telling the story in the airwaves, on the pages of your local papers, and we encourage you to continue to do it.
Because we've got so much more work to do. And the truth of the matter is, as the President said, we've got to lay out a Republican agenda in the days ahead — an agenda that makes our neighborhoods safer, our families stronger, our middle class bigger and more prosperous than ever before. The best is yet to come. And we've got to put out that positive vision.
You know, I used — I used to say back when I was in the House of Representatives that if you can't communicate, you can't govern. And House Republicans are — you all represent some of the best communicators in America today. You're on the airwaves at home, you're on the airwaves nationally on a regular basis. And I just encourage you to let your voice be heard.
Talk about what we've done for the American people to date, when we had a Republican majority. Talk about what you've done as a — as a principled majority, standing up for the rule of law and standing up for border security and moving this country forward, even from a minority in the House of Representatives.
But also talk about what we're going to do. Make it clear that, as I stand here in Baltimore, make it clear that Republicans and this President are ready to work with Democrats, including Elijah Cummings, to improve the lives of people in cities like Baltimore and address the crisis of illegal drugs and opioid abuse. (Applause.) We're going to work with everybody.
Make it clear that we're going to fix this broken immigration system once and for all. (Applause.) We're going to secure our border and have an immigration system that puts American jobs and American workers first, and one that's built — built on the principle of merit.
And finally make it clear that we're going to be the party that provides for the common defense for today and tomorrow. We're going to ensure that America remains dominant on the Earth and the land and the sea and the sky and in the vast expanse of space. (Applause.) It's this President and Republicans that will launch the United States Space Force. (Applause.)
So just be ready to let your voice be heard, everybody. And let them all know that beyond all of that, that we're just getting started in getting this economy moving again.
You know, one of the most amusing things I ever hear when I'm traveling around the country are when people will say to me, "Just tell the President to keep going forward."
You know, there's a lot of things you might have to say to President Trump. (Laughter.) But you never have to tell him to keep going forward. Like we say back in Indiana, all the reverse is stripped out of that pickup truck. It only goes forward. And we're going to fight to make this economy more prosperous than you can possibly imagine. (Applause.)
But we need a Republican majority to do it. And you just need to be that plain about it, folks, for the next year and a half. When you talk about what we did in those first two years, you need to know that we're going to talk about the fact that we did it in partnership with Republicans in the House and the Senate in the majority.
And that — I have to tell you, I've been through a few presidential elections. I've seen, just like you all have, different presidential candidates. But what you have, as you heard last night, is a President who believes in the team. He believes that what we've accomplished, we've accomplished, and that what we will do for the American people, for greater prosperity, for greater security, for more tax relief, for more regulatory reform, for more energy independence, we're going to do together by reelecting President Donald Trump for four more years and electing a Republican majority in the United States House of Representatives. (Applause.) That's how we're going to do it. Okay?
I mean, the choice in this election, I think, has never been clearer. And the stakes have never been higher. I mean, the Democrat Party today is dominated by left-wing liberals who want higher taxes, open borders, free healthcare for illegal immigrants, the Green New Deal, late-term abortion, and even defend infanticide. It's astonishing. I mean, the Democrats have embraced a radical, left-wing agenda out of step with the American people at a level I've never witnessed before.
And perhaps, worst of all — and it was in high relief last night — is that leading voices for president in the Democratic Party, and leading voices in the Congress that you serve with every day, openly advocate an economic system that has impoverished millions in the last century and robbed the liberties of generations. And that system is socialism.
I watched that question last night that Bernie got about Venezuela. And he went on to defend what he called "democratic socialism" in the wake of the abject poverty and deprivation in our own hemisphere, in Cuba and in Venezuela. It truly is astonishing.
And, men and women, I have to tell you, I think it's not going to be enough for us just to win the next election; we've got to win the next generation. (Applause.) We've got to go tell the story. We got to explain — Liz, we've got to explain to this generation — we've got to explain to this generation, this rising generation, that it was freedom, not socialism, that gave us the most prosperous and powerful nation in the history of the world. It was freedom, not socialism, that ended slavery, won two World Wars, and has America stand today as a beacon of hope for all the world.
I mean, I truly do believe that the moment America becomes a socialist country is the moment America ceases to be America. (Applause.)
So, House Republicans, we must say for the next 416 days, as the President said in his State of the Union Address, with one voice, "America will never be a socialist country." We won't allow it. We won't have it. (Applause.)
You were there when he said it. It echoed across the country. I've seen the way people have responded all across this nation, and the American people are with us.
You know, I truly do believe that history can attest that every time the American people are given a choice between more government and more freedom, they choose freedom every time. And so that really is our challenge.
Our challenge in the days that lie ahead — and I looked; it's 416 days, Kevin — is to go tell freedom's story. Go talk about what we we've accomplished when we turned this economy around. I mean, we've strengthened our military. When we see our courts now — nearly 150 new conservatives appointed to our courts at every level — (applause) — including Justice Neil Gorsuch and Justice Brett Kavanaugh. (Applause.)
But we got to go tell the story, and I know you will. I know the great communicators in this room are going to be out all across your districts, all across your states, and you're going to tell the story of what this President and this House Republican team has accomplished.
And my last word to every one of you is: Just know that we'll be with you every step of the way. We will. You know, I'm incredibly proud of the effort this President has put forward for this team. And he and I fanned out all across the country over the last two and a half years for this team and fought our way forward. And we're going to keep fighting all the way to electing a Republican majority in 2020.
And, you know, it's going to be rough along the way. There will be bumps. You know, I remember when I was in campaigning for Andy Barr in Kentucky. Andy was in a tough race. A lot of people counted him out, remember? And Andy Barr pulled it out. And President Trump and I were proud to stand with him every step of the way. (Applause.) Not that it was always easy.
I'll never forget, right after we did a nice little event, Andy said, "Do you want to stop by this one horse farm and see a Triple Crown winner named American Pharaoh?" An incredible horse. You know, I grew up in Indiana watched the Kentucky Derby from afar. I thought, "That would be great." And I like horses. Karen and I like to go horseback riding every chance we get.
So we went over to this very fancy Kentucky farm. Everything really manicured really nice. And they walked out this huge horse: American Pharaoh. And the — what do they call him? The farrier, who was holding him? The guy that was holding his reins. He was holding him by the reins and he said, "Do you want to hold him?" And there were a bunch of cameras, a bunch of media around. I'm a horse guy. I said, "Yeah, let me hold him." (Laughter.) And Andy and I were standing there, posing for all the cameras, and American Pharaoh bit me so hard on the arm, I almost collapsed. (Laughter.)
I just gritted my teeth and smiled, because you know what? In our line of work, you're going to get bit sometimes, but you keep fighting forward. And we did. (Applause.) And Andy Barr brought it across.
We're going to be there, folks. I tell you what: I'm not — it's not all going to be — you know, it's not all going to be — it's not all going to be easy. We know the other side is going to come hard. And we know, just like your families do, that it gets rough out in politics these days.
I mean, sometimes I get up in the morning and I just turn on the television with a stick. (Laughter.) I don't even know — (laughter) — I don't even know what's going to be on there.
But I want to tell you, as I close, I got to tell you, in the midst of all of it, it's voices like yours that mean so much to this President and his Vice President.
I mean, to know that we have principled men and women that are willing to stand in the gap — stand in the gap for a President who is putting everything on the line to turn this country around; who delivered for the American people every day since he was elected. And you've been there not just on the floor of the House of Representatives; you've been there on the airwaves of America, and it's made an incredible difference.
But I also want you to know how grateful people all over the country are for all of you. And so I just want to encourage you to stay after because I truly do believe the American people are with us. That whatever you're hearing in the public debate, in the national media, everywhere I go I hear that: the gratitude the American people feel for the progress that this President has been able to make with Republicans in the Congress of the United States.
And I'm absolutely convinced if all of us do all that we can in these 416 days that lie ahead to support this President, to keep this country moving forward; if we reelect this great Republican majority back to a majority in the House of Representatives, reelect a majority in the United States Senate, and reelect this President to four more years — I'm absolutely convinced with Republicans back in the majority in the Congress, with President Donald Trump in the White House, and with God's help, we'll keep delivering for the American people. We'll make this country safer and more prosperous than ever before.
And with your help, with your strong and courageous stand, with his leadership, and with God's help, we're going to keep America great.
Thanks, everybody. (Applause.) God bless you for your service. And God bless America. (Applause.)
Mike Pence, Remarks by the Vice President at the 2019 House Republican Conference Member Retreat in Baltimore, Maryland Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/334024