Mike Pence photo

Remarks by the Vice President at Young America's Foundation's Fall College Retreat and President's Club Weekend Event in Arlington, Virginia

November 13, 2020

Well, hello, Young America's Foundation! (Applause.) It's really great to be with all of you. My thanks to — how about another round of applause? — I know he's coming into responsibilities here at YAF, but I have to tell you, for me, he is the most admired conservative in America: Governor Scott Walker, everybody. Would you thank you one more time? (Applause.)

But to Governor Walker and to all the great conservative leaders who are here today of every age and every background, it is great to kick off the 2020 Fall College Retreat at Young America's Foundation. Thank you all for the honor of being with you today.

I also want to extend greetings to a man who literally, for the last 42 years, has built this organization up from the ground level — now 500 chapters all across America. I know he'll be hanging up his spurs, and maybe he'll be hanging them up at the Reagan Ranch. But he deserves a round of applause whether he's here or not. Join me in thanking YAF President Ron Robinson. What an amazing man. (Applause.)

But as I said, he'll — he'll pass the torch to someone who I got to know when I was Governor of the State of Indiana and someone who demonstrated in his years as Governor of Wisconsin and in every year since that he's one of the most clarion voices for the conservative agenda in America. And I know those are going to be big shoes to fill when Ron Robinson ends his tenure at YAF in February, but I know that Governor Scott Walker will lead this organization with great distinction. It's my great honor to be here at the first conference in anticipation of his new leadership.

I'm also delighted to be here — I understand he's going to be speaking shortly after me, but we're all holding onto hope that Burgess Owens is going to be the next great congressman from the State of Utah. Where are you, Burgess? (Applause.) It's an honor to be here with him and great to be with you all.

And speaking of friends of mine, I just left the office of another friend of mine and a man who, when I told him that I was coming to speak to YAF, he went, "Oh!" (Laughter.) And I think he — I think he just looked a little bit jealous. So allow me to bring greetings and gratitude from a champion of conservative thought and a champion of young conservatives across America; I bring greetings from the 45th President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump. (Applause.)

But being with all of you today, it just makes me think, for so many years, I'm — I'm actually — I'm fortunate to be joined on my team by some YAFers in their youth. My own Chief of Staff, Marc Short, who may well be in the room, in the line of sight, is an old Young America's Foundation person. And you might also know — he's backstage — but the president's chief speechwriter, Stephen Miller, is an old YAFer.

So if you ever wonder if YAF is going to launch you into positions of (inaudible) spend time in the West Wing, don't ever doubt it. You could give them a round of applause. They're special guys as well. (Applause.)

But I've long admired and — I've long admired Young America's — Young Americans for Freedom, I have to tell you. This is an organization not just a stewardship, of — of the Reagan Ranch that my young family and I visited about 15 years ago, but the stewardship of the conservative agenda for young people on campuses all across America — advancing the cause of individual freedom, a strong national defense, free enterprise, and traditional moral values. And each and every one of you are rising leaders in this generation that have embraced that agenda.

And I'm seeing all these great young faces out here today, but how about a round of applause for all the supporters of YAF who are also here with us as well? (Applause.) Thank you for your generosity to this cause.

But I came here today not just to help you kick off your — your Fall Retreat, but also I came here today simply to say thank you. Thank you for the incredible support that YAFers have provided to our administration every step of the way these past four years.

And as our election contest continues in courts across America, I want to promise you: We are going to keep fighting until every legal vote is counted and until every illegal vote is thrown out. (Applause.) And whatever the outcome at the end of the process, I promise you: We will never stop fighting to make America great again. (Applause.)

I mean, it's amazing to think — it's amazing to think what took place on Election Day with the support of all of you. While we're continuing to work through the courts process and — and with, I was told this morning, over 1,000 very capable lawyers in America to make sure that we have integrity in our vote.

But think about what's already been recognized: This President actually secured 72 million votes. That was more than — 10 million more votes than we received in 2016. In fact, it's more votes than any Republican candidate or any incumbent President in the history of the United States of America. And what maybe meant the most to the President and me is that the vote that came in on November the 3rd for this Republican President actually included the highest proportion of American minority voters in 60 years. (Applause.)

And it wasn't just the numbers in our race. Because of the support that all of you provided in all the states from which you come, we actually already have added 12 seats to the House of Representatives. And we — we won three state houses. And give us just a little bit more than a month; we're going to win two Senate seats in the great state of Georgia and hold the Senate majority for the Republican Party. (Applause.) Are you with me on that? (Applause.)

I mean, it really is incredible, men and women, all that we've accomplished to date. And even with the election contest that's underway at the presidential level, I think we have so much to celebrate, and it's a reflection of the work that all of you have done.

But I also wanted to share with you for just a few minutes about why we fight and why we continue to fight. You know, I turn on the cable television stations and it seems like there's a lot of handwringing on a couple of them about why are we having this election contest. And — and I want to address that to each one of you.

It's because it — really, it's about protecting the integrity of the ballot, it's about preserving what we have accomplished and have yet to do, and it's all about preventing the other side from undoing all the progress that we've made in making America great again.

First and foremost, why we fight: It's about protecting the integrity of the ballot. You know, men and women of YAF, I think you all know the right to vote is central to our republic. It has been defended by generations of American heroes in uniform. And any time that — that a fraudulent vote enters the ballot, it — it literally cancels the honest vote of an American — an honest vote that was won and fought for in generations of warfare by this country.

And so we're going to stand to preserve the integrity of the vote. We're going to — we're going to fight for an outcome in this election that wins us four more years. But we're also going to fight to ensure that we respect the honest and legal vote of every American for this generation and the next. (Applause.) The American people deserve nothing less. I mean, you all know, the liberal media doesn't get to pick our President; the American people do. And we're going to make sure — we're going to make sure that the American people's choice prevails in this presidential election. (Applause.) So that's first and foremost why we're fighting right now.

But we're also fighting to preserve everything that we've accomplished. It really is amazing to think about what we have done in the last four years. And I say that with a little swirl of my hand because I picked that up off the President. I've lost count of the number of times that people would come into the Oval Office and say to the President, "Thank you for what you've done." And he would always — he gets his ha- — just, "We." I mean, this is a President that — that understands that everything that we've been able to accomplish, it's because of the support of tens of millions of Americans who knew we could be strong again, who knew we could be prosperous again if we re-grounded our nation in all the ideals and principles that have always made America great.

But, I mean, think about it: Four years ago, we inherited a military that had been hollowed out by devastating budget cuts, an economy that was struggling to break out of the slowest recovery since the Great Depression. Terrorism was on the rise around the world. And — and, as you all know well, we witnessed a steady assault on our most cherished values and freedoms.

But under President Donald Trump, in four short years, we rebuilt our military; we restored the arsenal of democracy; we revived our economy, secured our border, supported law enforcement, and stood for life, liberty, and the Constitution of the United States of America. (Applause.) I mean, think about it.

And I — you know, and I — and some of you know that I — I've got three kids about your all's age, and one of them is a United States Marine, and my daughter is married to a Navy pilot who's currently deployed. So I couldn't be more proud to be Vice President to a President who signed the largest increase in our national defense since the days of Ronald Reagan. It's true. We're finally giving our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, Coast Guard, and Space Force the resources they need to defend this nation. (Applause.)

And with that renewed American strength, you all saw the story unfold over the last four years — and particularly over the last year and a half. At the direction of this Commander-in-Chief, it was — it was America's Armed Forces, working with our allies in the region, that took down the ISIS caliphate, captured the last inch of territory under the black flag of ISIS, and took down their leader, Baghdadi, without one American casualty. (Applause.)

And it wasn't just the caliphate and their leader. It was in January of this year, when I was there, when President Trump made the decision, when we had in our sights the most dangerous terrorist in the world. And because of our armed forces, and because of the decisiveness of our President, Qasem Soleimani is gone. (Applause.)

So we've — we've stood up to our enemies, but we also stood with our allies with that renewed strength as well. And I have to tell you, having long been a champion of our most cherished ally, I couldn't be more proud — after four previous Presidents promised to do it and then didn't, I couldn't be more proud to be Vice President to a President who kept his promise to the American people and he moved the American embassy to Jerusalem, the capital of the State of Israel. (Applause.)

And here at home, this — this is a President, as Governor Walker just said, who also kept his word to revive this economy. Where the last administration tried to tax and regulate and bail us back to a growing economy, it was President Donald Trump who cut taxes across the board for working families and businesses large and small. We rolled back more federal red tape than any administration in American history. We unleashed American energy. We're now a net exporter of energy for the first time in 70 years. And we fought for free and fair trade, renegotiated our trading relationship with Canada and Mexico, and the result was 7 million jobs created in just three years and wages rising at the fastest pace in more than a decade. Freedom works. (Applause.)

I mean, the truth is that all of those policies unleashed an American renaissance — in job creation, small businesses, American energy, and exports. And — and all along the way, this President has stood for the rule of law, principles so cherished by Young Americans for Freedom and conservatives across the country. And chief among those things, we've stood with those who've — who've protected and served our families every single day.

And President Donald Trump, every single day, has stood with the men and women of law enforcement. We back the blue, and we back men and women who will stand with those in law enforcement. (Applause.)

And all along the way, this President also kept his promise that, again, my friend Scott was talking about. I remember — I remember when — when President Trump pulled out the list, with good counsel from — from friends at Federalist Society and elsewhere. And he said, "This is a list from which we will draw if there are openings on the Supreme Court."

And the truth is that we drew from that list and that steady counsel, and we've actually appointed more than 220 conservatives to our federal courts at every level, and they are all men and women who will uphold the God-given liberties enshrined in our Constitution, like the freedom of speech, the freedom of religion, and the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. (Applause.)

And that includes Justice Neil Gorsuch, Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and Justice Amy Coney Barrett. (Applause.) Isn't she great? Isn't she great? I'm telling you what — not just because she's from Indiana. Right? (Laughter.) How much did you love it when they said, "Would you show us what's on that paper in front of you?" Nothing. (Laughs.) Just an amazing, principled person.

But I'm telling you, Judge Barrett — now Justice Barrett — Justice Kavanaugh, and Justice Gorsuch, they're just emblematic of over 200 principled jurists who are on our courts at every level, strengthening the foundation under- — underpinning our Constitution in the judiciary.

In fact, I hope some of you have the opportunity, in the midst of this conference, to take some time to listen to Justice Alito's speech at the Federalist Society last night. He said, and I quote, "We have never before seen restrictions as severe… and prolonged as those [that have been] experienced" on freedom in the year 2020. He said things that were "previously unimaginable restrictions" on our freedom of speech and on religious liberty — had taken place. Justice Alito's admonition last night is an admonition I think every YAFer should embrace. And that is, he said, "We need to do whatever we can to prevent [our fundamental freedoms] from becoming second-tier constitutional rights."

The good news is this great organization, Young America's Foundation — Young Americans for Freedom — have already been in that fight from the very beginning. It was YAF that led the fight against California's Berkeley and stood up, we stood with you, and we won for the freedom of speech on campuses. (Applause.)

It was — it was more than a year of litigation, but we were able to prevail. And it's because we understand that the freedom of religion, the freedom of speech — these are the fundamental freedoms of the American people, and so we've stood without apology for those ideals and those values.

But probably, more than anything else, I can tell you: Of all the things that I've stood with this President all along the way, I couldn't be more proud to be Vice President to a President who has stood without apology for the sanctity of human life. (Applause.)

I mean, it was amazing. From very early on, the President reinstituted what's known as the "Mexico City policy." We prevented any taxpayer dollars from going to provide or promote abortion anywhere around the world. It was President Trump — it was President Trump who took steps necessary, we advanced legislation, and I actually got to cast the tiebreaking vote, as President of the Senate, to allow states across America to defund Planned Parenthood, and President Trump signed it into law. (Applause.)

Because of your support, because of all of your efforts over the last four years, we — I've had the opportunity to serve alongside the most pro-life President in American history. And make no mistake about it: Whether it's — whether it's in the hallways of the Congress; whether it be in the — in the hallways of our judiciary; whether it be in the quiet and compassionate hallways of crisis pregnancy centers around America; because of all of your work, life is winning in America, and I believe we will restore the sanctity and the right to life to the center of America's law. (Applause.) I believe it with all my heart.

And in the midst of all of that, the American people have witnessed, in the last year, this President's leadership, as our nation was struck from China by the worst pandemic in 100 years. But from very early on, the American people saw the decisiveness of our President writ-large. He suspended all travel from China, the second-largest economy in the world. We stood up the greatest national mobilization since World War Two.

And as I stand here today, even as we've seen cases rising across the Midwest, the report again I received this morning is still true today: No American who has ever required a ventilator has ever been denied a ventilator. No American who has ever required an ICU bed has ever been denied an ICU bed. We've sped medicines to the marketplace, including last week from a great Indiana company, that are literally saving lives every day.

And you all saw the news: Pfizer and very soon another company, we believe, are going to go to the FDA with the first coronavirus vaccine, and we believe we'll be distributing tens of millions of doses of that vaccine before the year is out. (Applause.)

So we fight because it's right to fight to preserve the integrity of the vote. We fight because of all that we've accomplished and the great progress we've made as a nation and all we have yet to do. But we also fight, men and women, because of — because we need, whether it be in our election or whether it be in the upcoming runoffs in Georgia — we fight to ensure that we have a check on all the Democrats on the American left want to do to undo the progress that we have made.

And make no mistake about it — I know — I know you get a little tired — even all these bright young people get a little tired after election season, and I know you all worked very hard. The truth is, I'm headed down to Georgia next week, and I'll be going down again and again, and we have got to roll our sleeves up. And just as earnestly as we are working to reelect President Trump for four more years, we got to make sure that we reelect a Republican majority in the United States Senate and the majority path goes straight through Georgia. (Applause.)

So get ready. I mean, it's great to be here at this Young America's Foundation Retreat, but I hope you get a little retreat, you get a little refreshed, and then, if you can, hit the road. (Laughs.) All roads point south, okay? Go find a place to get involved and knock on the door because it — their — you know, our agenda is about American greatness, and I really do believe their agenda will lead to American decline. I believe it with all my heart.

I mean, where we're opening up again, they got people on their team that are already talking about locking down America again. Where we cut taxes, rolled back regulation, we advanced more freedom — they're talking about literally raising taxes right out of the gate, growing government, and returning to an activist court, defense cuts that — the likes of which we inherited when we came into office.

We know what their agenda is, and if they — if they find a way to gain control of the White House and the United States Senate, as they hold the House of Representatives even by a narrow majority, their agenda is higher taxes, open borders, socialized medicine, a Green New Deal, abortion on demand, defunding the police, and packing the courts. But we're not going to let it happen, right? (Applause.)

Young Americans, we're going to do everything in our power to see this President reelected under the under the color of the law, and we'll pursue every right and legal remedy. But we all need to do everything in our power to make sure that we win that majority in Georgia as well.

And so I appreciate the opportunity to come and chat with you today and to break loose from some of our duties. We'll be — we'll be talking in the Rose Garden a little bit later this afternoon about progress that we're making in dealing with the coronavirus and advancing a vaccine to millions — tens of millions of Americans just around the corner.

But I want to give you a word of encouragement, and that is: I want to urge all of you to stay in the fight and have faith. I love a quote somebody sent me the other day from Corrie ten Boom. She wrote, "Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to known God." Right? We don't know what the future holds, but, for me, in my house, we know who holds the future. And so I just want to encourage you to be encouraged. (Applause.)

Stay in the fight for integrity in our elections all the way through this contest through which we're passing in our courts, and then after that, to make sure that — that we improve our electoral system in this country so that every American can be confident that every legal vote is counted.

Stay in the fight for a Republican majority in the Senate to reelect Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue.

In a word, just stay in the fight for freedom. You know, the fight for freedom never ends. You know, I've been — I've been laboring in the vineyards of the conservative movement since I had hair the same color as yours. (Laughter.) And, frankly, I started out in politics as a Democrat. I was actually the Youth Democrat Party coordinator in Bartholomew County, Indiana, in 1975, when I was a sophomore in high school. It's true. I was kind of a "community organizer," truth be told. (Laughter.)

But then, I started to hear the voice of this movie actor who had run for President. I started to hear the ideals that he was expressing — the belief in individual freedom and a strong national defense and traditional values and the liberties enshrined in our Constitution. And I — I became a Republican. I never looked back.

In fact, the first time I ran for Congress — I was young then, too — it was back in 1988. It was his last year in office, and I actually got to sit with the man that I like to call my second-favorite President. (Laughter.) And I sat down in the Blue Room, across from President Reagan. And it was one of these candidate lineups where you go in and you get to sit down for a few minutes, and they roll a little video, and then they take a — take a picture.

And I was with my young bride — still my bride today — our great Second Lady Karen Pence. (Applause.) But some capable campaign staffer, like one of you, had handed me a sheet that I ought to talk about some road or some bridge or a bridge that needed a road in Indiana or something. I don't know. And I turned to Karen and I said, "You know, he's the reason I'm a Republican. I feel like I'd just like to say something from my heart." And Karen just looked at me and she said, "You just tell him whatever you want to tell him."

So I sat down, very nervous. You can see a picture of it online, if you want. It's easy to find. And I sat down, and he looked at me, and he said, "Mike, how's the campaign going?" And I said, "Well, I got something I'd like to say to you." And he said, "Okay." And I said, "I just want to thank you for everything you've done to inspire my generation of Americans to believe in this country again."

And he looked at me and, for as long as I live, I'll — I'll believe that, in that moment, the 40th President of the United States blushed. And he said, "Well, Mike, that's a very nice thing of you to say." (Laughter.) And it was like he'd never heard it before, and I know he had. But the truth was, when I was your age, I had — I had come of age watching — watching heroes of mine, in my youth, cut down in the streets.

You know, the heroes of my youth were John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr., when I was a little boy in the 60s, and I saw the Vietnam War unfurl in front of us, and then we saw Watergate. But when President Reagan came along, he just reminded my generation that we could be great again.

And I can't help but think that President Trump has had the same impact on each and every one of you. He's just reminded you what real leadership looks like — what strong, unapologetic American leadership looks like on the world stage; about the difference that one person can make if they hew to the ideals and principles that have always made this country great.

And I have to tell you, it's — I really hope, in the days ahead, that you'll — you'll take this experience and you'll carry that in your own careers and in your own lives not just from being active in Young America's Foundation, but as conservatives at home. And don't resist the call to step forward and put your name on the ballot as well. Because I have a sense every single one of you would be a credit to the nation if you'd step forward and make that sacrifice. That's what I mean by "Stay in the fight." Stay in the fight every day in the days that are unfolding in front of us now and the history that's being written.

Stay in the fight by heading from here straight down to Georgia and making a difference. But stay in the fight. Stay in the fight for freedom every day of your life. Because the fight for freedom never ends.

And remember this: Never forget that the Bible says, "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom." Which means any time that we make freedom our cause — defending it, upholding it, expanding it — we make His work on this Earth our very own, and it also means a freedom always wins.

So stay in the fight. Stay in the fight for America. Stay in the fight for freedom. And looking out at all these bright and shining faces, I know the best days for the conservative movement and the best days for America are yet to come.

Thank you all very much. God bless you. God bless YAF. And we'll see you there. (Applause.)

Mike Pence, Remarks by the Vice President at Young America's Foundation's Fall College Retreat and President's Club Weekend Event in Arlington, Virginia Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/346714

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