THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Vice President
For Immediate Release October 30, 2018
INTERVIEW OF VICE PRESIDENT PENCE
BY ANNA PALMER AND JAKE SHERMAN, “POLITICO PLAYBOOK LIVE”
The St. Regis Hotel
10:45 A.M. EDT
Q Thank you, sir.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
Q All right. Well, thank you so much for taking the time. You’re a busy man
these days, but let’s get started.
Q I want to get started with the tragic shooting in Pittsburgh over the weekend.
I wonder what you think is behind this hate and whether you see any — where you
see culpability kind of across the spectrum in this country.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, Jake, first, thank you for having me here. I want to
thank Lockheed Martin for hosting this event and thank you for both for the
You know, I think the hearts of every American are heavy today with the terrible
attack that took place Saturday morning at a Jewish synagogue in Pittsburgh. The
President and the First Lady will be in Pittsburgh today. In this country, we
mourn with those who mourn and we grieve with those who grieve. And the
President will be there. But I know people all across this country will be there
in their hearts.
We’ve made it clear that this was not just a criminal act, this was evil. And we
will not let violence or anti-Semitism take hold in the United States of
America. We will condemn it wherever it rears its ugly head. And the President
and I have done that forcefully.
We’ll also bring to justice the individual involved here. And as our federal
prosecutors have assured, that justice will be swift and severe. But I think, as
we go forward, it’s important that we hold those accountable that are
responsible for the acts — and in this case, this deranged individual or the
individual in Florida who was sending pipe bombs that were sent to the Obamas,
to the Clintons, to CNN, and other public figures.
But I think it’s very important that we focus on holding those accountable to
the fullest extent of the law that engage in these types of activities, while,
at the same time, we preserve the very freedoms that are the fabric of our
nation — the freedom of speech, the freedom of religion.
And our administration, the President on down, and I are committed to doing just
Q You talk about that — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said yesterday
in Louisville –you [he] said, “…just collectively it seems to me we need to
turn down the temperature.” We need to tone — turn the tone down. Freedom of
speech — of course. But do you agree with that — that the tone needs to
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I — look, everyone has their own style and there’s
strong rhetoric on both sides of the aisle. But I honestly think it’s important
that we continue to celebrate and debate the important issues that our country
One week from today, the American people will gather for critical midterm
elections. And we welcome a good and vigorous debate on everything from national
security to economic growth and jobs to healthcare to our courts. And I think
that debate should go forward.
But yes — do I believe that making sure that we communicate those things in a
substantive way is important? But I never want to — I never want to tell anyone
in the public debate that you can’t express yourself from your heart in the way
that’s important to you and in a way that communicates with people.
And again, I think it’s important we — that we don’t connect the evil acts that
we’ve witnessed in Pittsburgh — with a horrible attack on the synagogue or the
sending of threats of violence and devices through the mail to public figures —
it’s important we don’t connect those acts to the public debate. I think we have
always had a vigorous public debate in America and I think we always should have
a vigorous public debate. And we should welcome that and embrace that.
And at the same time, we should hold people accountable who threaten our people,
who conduct violence and who violate our laws.
Q This morning in an interview that came out — I think it was taped yesterday
— the President said, he might use executive orders — his authority —
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Right.
Q — his solo authority to eliminate the principle of birthright citizenship,
which means if someone is born here they become a citizen. Legal scholars think
this is a pretty open and closed Constitutional issue. What would be the
administration’s argument that the President could do this unilaterally?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, first let’s recognize we have a crisis on our southern
border. And while this migrant caravan that’s coming north has been a source of
great concern for millions of Americans — I hear it everywhere I go as I travel
across the country — the truth is that we have more than a thousand people
attempt to come into our country illegally every day.
And President Trump, from our campaign in 2016 to every day since, has been
calling on the Congress and taking the action that’s available to stem this tide
of illegal immigration.
And one of the things the President articulated on the campaign trail two years
ago was that we want to look at, in the broadest way possible, about at American
law that may be used as a magnet to draw people into our country. Some of those
loopholes are like catch-and-release. Some of those loopholes are in other
categories. They’re things that human traffickers actually use to entice
vulnerable families to make the long and dangerous trip north up the peninsula,
often at great risk to themselves. And, frankly, birthright citizenship is a
part of that.
And what I think the President has made clear is that we are looking at action
that would reconsider birthright citizenship. We all know what the 14th
Amendment says. We all cherish the language of the 14th Amendment. But the
Supreme Court of the United States has never ruled on whether or not the
language of the 14th Amendment, subject to the jurisdiction thereof, applies
specifically to people who are in the country illegally. And I think the
President is looking at executive action. I know the Congress has looked at
legislative action to reconsider that.
But our broad objective here is let’s — we need to fix a broken immigration
system that’s being used by people who literally are exploiting vulnerable
people, enticing them to make this long journey north through our border in the
hopes of coming into our country illegally. And we need to have a system where
people know how to come into the United States legally, and that we have a
system that’s working for the American people first, and that it’s working in an
orderly way, like it did for my grandfather when he came through Ellis Island
when he was 23 years of age, from Ireland.
The system isn’t working today, Jake, and we’ve got to reform it.
Q That would be pretty drastic action to do that unilaterally — the President
doing that by himself.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I’ll leave it to the President to announce whatever
actions we’ll take. I know the President yesterday made the decision that we’re
deploying 5,200 troops to our southern border. There’s already 2,000 National
Guard there now. We’re going to have the troops there to support Border Patrol
agents, as this caravan continues to make its way north, but also as the crisis
of illegal immigration on our southern border continues.
But in terms of changes in the law, in terms of executive action, I don’t want
to get ahead of the President. But you can look back at that famous speech in
Phoenix that he gave about immigration reform. And he spoke about us taking on
this issue and taking on other issues in a way that we can — we can have a
debate about having an immigration system in America that’s working, that’s
working for the American people first, and that includes reexamining this whole
issue of birthright citizenship.
Q About those troops going down to the border, a lot of people have said —
critics of this administration, today, are out saying that this is just a ploy
for the election, to really dramatically make people scared. You know, to get
Republicans jazzed up about the midterms. Do you buy into that? Is this just an
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Anna, it is not. The caravan that’s making its way north was
organized in Honduras, according to what the President of Honduras told me. It
was organized by left-wing groups, political organizations within Honduras. It
was likely financed, in part, by Venezuela. And people brought together many
vulnerable families — including elderly, families with children — for the
purpose of coming up to the border of the United States to come into our country
illegally. That’s the objective here.
It was — whatever the motivation of many people in the caravan. And we happen
to know there are people with serious criminal histories in the caravan. We’ve
been told by law enforcement in the region that there are individuals from the
Middle East in the caravan.
The simple fact is that human traffickers and political leftist organizations in
Central America are driving this forward. That started weeks ago. It is a source
of great concern to millions of Americans. I’ve been traveling, like the
President has, all over the country, and I can tell you, being out among the
American people, there’s great concern, great alarm among many Americans to see
this vast throng of people coming up for the express purpose of coming into our
And the President is simply determined to make sure that we’ve got the manpower
on the border to provide the support, as appropriate, to the Border Patrol, to
continue to harden our border, to ensure that the people that are applying into
our country are doing so through ports of entry and under the color of the law.
Q Let’s shift to the midterms. History would tell us, and I know the White House
— you’ve said before that we know what the President thinks of political
wisdom. So, but what I should note —
THE VICE PRESIDENT: “Conventional wisdom.”
Q “Conventional wisdom.” Right. I should note that history does tell us that you
guys will lose the House of Representatives based on a wealth of history. I’m
curious what you’re doing in the last week or so — week from today — to
prevent that from happening.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, the President and I will be on the road, almost
continuously, in between now and Election Day. We’ll be —
Q Give us a sense of your schedule.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, it’s — boy, I’ll tell you, it’s —
Q You could pull out a cheat sheet. (Laughter.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I mean, it’s pretty busy. We’ll be in Georgia. We’ll be in
Indiana. We’ll be in Tennessee. We’ll be in Florida. We’ll be in North Dakota,
South Dakota, Montana. And that’s just the ones that’s top of mind.
Look, you know, you’re rightly quoted me. I said a while back, I said, you know,
“conventional wisdom says that for the party in the White House it’s hard to
hold your majorities in your first midterm election.” But I always tell people,
“I think we know what President Trump thinks of conventional wisdom.” Right?
I mean, we threw out the playbook in 2016. He really believes that with a
growing economy, with the progress that we’ve made on our agenda — I mean,
think about it.
Unemployment is at a 50-year low. Record unemployment for African Americans and
Hispanic Americans, the lowest level ever recorded. 4.2 million new jobs. A
record of delivering for the American people on national defense, on our courts,
on tax cuts, on regulatory reform.
We think we’ve got a great story to tell. And the President decided early on
this year that we were going to do everything in our power to support the
Republican majorities and get out and tell that story.
And frankly, I see it connecting. I mean, we understand — we understand what
the historical tides are, but I got to tell you, I feel like that blue wave is
going to hit a red wall come next Tuesday. (Laughter.)
Q Only time will tell. (Applause.)
Q If you think about that though, so you’re talking about your closing message
basically is what you were kind of giving — the strong argument that you’re
making. Why do you think that Beto O’Rourke, for example, in Texas, is within
five points of Ted Cruz in a state that he won by 16 last time? What’s causing
that closing of the gap in some of these races?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, look, it’s — look, I don’t discount the impact of
tens of millions of dollars into a Senate race. I mean, it’s a staggering amount
of money that, frankly, Democrats have raised all over the country this year.
And, you know, more power to them. It’s a free country. Our team has been
working to do the very same thing, to make sure that our candidates have the
resources to be able to tell their story.
But look, Ted Cruz has been delivering for the people of Texas. He really has.
And the way that he has worked so closely with this President after they went
through a competitive primary is a great credit to him.
I mean, from early in this administration, Ted Cruz has been there standing with
this President, taking the tough votes — tax cuts, regulatory reform,
rebuilding our military.
And frankly, with Lockheed Martin here, I’m proud to say Ted Cruz has been a
leader on space. And as the President has basically renewed America’s commitment
to human space exploration, Senator Ted Cruz has partnered with us in his
position on a critical committee from the state of Texas, home to Houston’s
Space Center. And he’s been a leader on that. So, I think that’s why Ted Cruz is
winning, and will win that race.
But make no mistake about it — when you see some of these races that are
unexpectedly close, Anna, I do think some of that is the historical trends that
come for these first midterm elections — but the fact that our team is doing so
well in so many areas — you look at the race in Missouri, you look at the race
in Montana, you look at the race in North Dakota, you look at the race in
Indiana, West Virginia. I’m excited about the next week. And I’m excited because
we have got great men and women running, but I’m also excited because we’ve got
a great story to tell. It’s a record of results. Theirs is a record of
resistance. And we think the American people are going to vote for more results
come November 6th.
Q But you mentioned West Virginia, you mentioned Indiana. It’s notable that
those two states — states that you and the President won handily, represented
by Democrats, Republicans have not been able to put those Democrats away. And
especially in West Virginia, where Joe Manchin holds anywhere from a 10- to
15-point lead over the Republican. I’m curious what you chalk that up to.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I’ve actually heard that that race is really close
right now in West Virginia. And my wife Karen was just there campaigning not
long ago. We’ll be back in West Virginia before too long.
Patrick Morrisey is running a great campaign. He’s been a great attorney general
for the state, and has aligned completely with the agenda that the people of
West Virginia voted overwhelmingly for when they voted to make President Trump
the 45th President of the United States.
And in the state of Indiana — look, I love the Hoosier state.
Q A state you know well.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: We’ve — we’ve got a long tradition of bipartisanship in the
state. But again, Mike Braun has run a great campaign. He came out of a
competitive primary and — but he’s pulled the Party together. He’s got support
from independents, and, frankly, support from many Democrats who voted, again,
overwhelmingly, in 2016 for this President and for this team.
I mean, this is very much — the message we’re carrying everywhere across the
country is that — that particularly in the states that voted for the President
and voted for our administration — is to say that we’ve been able to do this
much so far, but we think we’re just getting started. And if we have more
partners and greater support in the House and the Senate, we really do believe
that we’ve only just begun.
Q I want to ask you about women, and where Republicans are with women. It’s been
one of the biggest issues on the campaign cycle this year. I think some polls
have two-thirds of women giving the Republican Party an unfavorable rating,
particularly suburban women. How do you explain that?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I gave up a long time ago trying to explain polls.
(Laughter.) I mean, virtually every poll this time two years ago said we were
going to lose. And I didn’t believe them then.
Look, the President won a majority of women, if memory serves, in 2016. And I
think it’s because he spoke to the issues that women and men care most about:
safety and security at home and abroad, a growing economy, opportunities in the
workplace. I mean, unemployment for women is now at a 65-year low in the United
States. We’ve been advancing policies that we believe are going to broaden
opportunities for women in the workplace and —
But that’s a message that we’re going to continue to get out, not only through
November 6th, but over the next two years.
And I have to tell you, as I traveled around the country — last night in Grand
Rapids, Michigan, I would say the crowd was evenly divided between men and
women. There’s a lot of passionate support from women and men across the
country, and we’re going to continue to carry a message of the results we’ve
been delivering on the issues people care most about. And that includes the
issues that women care most about.
Q I remember when I covered you when you were in the House minority in 2008,
2009, 2010 — that was a pretty bad time for Republicans in the House.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: It was.
Q I’m curious whether you think — is the administration prepared to be — to
have a Democratic majority on Capitol Hill?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, when I’m out on the road, I remind people, Jake —
because I remember I knew you, you know, before you were like, a big deal at
Q Before I had gray hair. (Laughter.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: (Laughs.) What gray hair?
I tell people, you know, I was there the last time Nancy Pelosi was Speaker of
the House, and you don’t ever want that to happen again.
Look, instead of increasing military spending, they were cutting military
spending. Instead of cutting taxes, they were increasing taxes. Instead of
rolling back the heavy hand of government, they were growing government. They
tried to do cap-and-trade. They gave us Obamacare that — causing premiums to
skyrocket and choices to decline.
I — it was a tough time, and not politically — it was a tough time for the
country. And I really do believe that that message is resonating with people all
across America. We — and it’s made — you know, the point — we know the
historical trends. I think — you know, for every first midterm election that
there’s been a Republican in the White House, for the last 100 years, it’s been
tough except for two of them. But I think this is going to be the exception
I really do believe that because people are looking at the results, they’re
looking at the record, they’re looking at the contrast of a Party that — I
mean, even — I read some Democratic commentators who actually are writing —
the Democrats really have no agenda except resistance; no agenda expect
obstruction. And our agenda is growth; it’s jobs; it’s security; it’s principled
men and women on our courts at every level. And I think the American people see
the results and they are going to say “yes.”
Q Talk about that though. If Democrats are in the majority, or even if they’re a
minority, what are one or two things that you guys could actually work together
on? I think if — when you are going around the country — we’ve been on the
campaign trail a lot — more than anything, there’s frustration with this
dysfunction in Washington that nobody can, kind of, put their Party hat aside
and actually work together.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, let me begin by saying, we have been working with
Democrats on a lot of issues. It was, frankly, it was just a handful of days ago
that the President signed a bipartisan water infrastructure bill that passed
almost unanimously in the United States Senate.
This year — it doesn’t get nearly enough credit, except maybe in Playbook.
Q (Inaudible.) Yeah, exactly.
Q We’re the beacon of bipartisanship. Thank you. (Laughs.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I mean, you all would remember. How long has it been since
Congress actually passed spending bills on time before the end of the fiscal
year? The Congress did that this year. That took bipartisan cooperation. It took
strong presidential leadership to say that I don’t want to —
The President made it clear — remember last year? He said he didn’t want
another one of these big omnibus bills that he had to sign in one fell swoop.
And so, Congress literally moved legislation in blocks and we funded the federal
government. And it’s something to be proud of. And it gives evidence of the fact
we’re going to be able to work very productively with a Democrat minority in the
upcoming Congress. (Laughter.)
And we’re going to work with them on issues — I think infrastructure. There’s
no question this is — the American people elected a builder to be President of
the United States of America. He wants to rebuild America’s infrastructure. The
President talks about a trillion-dollar investment in infrastructure and he is
absolutely committed to working with both parties to accomplish that.
Vocational education is another one. You know, we’ve got — we got 7 million job
openings today in America. We’ve got 6 million people looking for work.
The challenge that we have in a growing economy — an economy that is expanding
last quarter, 3.5 percent — is workforce. Everywhere I go I have businesses
saying to me, “We’re hiring. We’re expanding, but…” — and I can see some nods
in the room of some businesspeople in the room today. It’s difficult to find
So I think there’s room to work on a bipartisan basis, again with a Democrat
minority, to forge policies, to expand vocational education.
And this is a President — this is a President who is passionate about working
people. He has made a tremendous connection to working people all across the
country. He has great admiration for people who work with their hands and are
involved in the building trades, and construction, and a whole range of
manufacturing jobs. And the President is absolutely committed to expanding
vocational education all over the country to support a growing economy.
Q One thing you’re going to have to sell Congress on, moving to the space topic,
is the creation of the Space Force, which —
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yes.
Q — has drawn some skeptics on both sides of the aisle. So you’ll have your
work cut out for you there. How do you — what’s the argument that you need a
new Space Force and you can’t do it within existing structures within the
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, Space Force is part of the President’s vision for
really reinvigorating American leadership in space. And so I would say, Jake and
Anna, first thing is to understand, when we were on the campaign trail two years
ago, the President asked me if I’d be willing — if I was elected Vice President
— to chair a newly reconstituted National Space Council.
If you remember in history, up until about 25 years ago, the Vice President
chaired the National Space Council and oversaw space policy. I jumped at the
chance. You’re talking to somebody who — Karen and I took our kids when they
were little to Cape Canaveral for vacation just so we could go see the rockets.
When I was in the Congress, I served for a time on the NASA subcommittee of the
Science Committee, and attended several launches with some of our most
noteworthy astronauts. I’ll always count it a great privilege that I was at a
shuttle launch with Neil Armstrong and my daughter Charlotte.
So I have real passion like most people in my generation do who grew up as kids
in the 60s and were watching those black-and-white televisions for the
inspirational power of American leadership in space and human exploration in
And I think what President Trump has observed is that, for all the merits of the
International Space Station, for all the merits of low-Earth orbit development,
that what we need to do is expand policies — which we’ve been doing through
changes in regulation of space traffic — to allow private companies to have
access for the purposes of space tourism, satellite maintenance, space mining.
Allow them, in that space between here and the moon, and then have America and
NASA once again lead in human exploration.
And the President has already signed a presidential directive saying we’re going
back to the moon. And from the moon, we’re going to Mars. And frankly, we’re
working some of the leading companies in the country today to develop those new
You know, I think it’s a great source of frustration to Americans that we can’t
put American astronauts in space for the last several years. We grounded the
shuttle program, I’m going to say, in 2015. And the idea was we were going to
come up with a new platform pretty quickly. We just didn’t do that. So now we
hitch a ride with the Russians and we pay about $85 million a seat to go up.
Well, very soon we’re going to be test-launching our new platform that will take
American astronauts back into space from American soil. And I think President
Trump, who is a — he is a go higher, farther, faster person. He’s just got a
tremendous passion for — let’s relight American leadership in human space
But we as do that — now to your question — we’ve got to have security. And
we’ve got to make sure that we recognize that we’ve got be as dominant in
security in space as we are in security here on Earth. And the President
believes that the next natural evolution in American national security is the
establishment of a United States Space Force — a Department of the United
States Space Force, which will be an equal to all the other branches of the
But we’ll launch that in the National Defense Authorization Bill next year. But
the President is already prepared to take steps to begin to reorganize and
centralize our command structure.
Because, right now, we’re already — we already are heavily invested in security
in space. We literally have thousands of people across a broad range of agencies
— intelligence agencies and defense agencies — who are involved in maintaining
our security-based satellites systems, maintaining American security in space.
What the President believes is: The time has come for America to bring that all
under one umbrella, organize it around a U.S. Department of the Space Force, and
then — much in the way the Air Force was formed in the aftermath of World War
II — that we begin the process of standing up a new department that will ensure
American security in space, even as we lead the world farther and faster into
the vast beyond.
Q You haven’t ruled out placing strategic weapons in space, including nuclear
missiles. If we do engage in a new military space race, what’s the Trump
administration’s diplomatic plan to avoid war in space?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, there’s a space treaty that’s been on the books since
the 60s which —
Q Which prohibits this.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: — which bans weapons of mass destruction in space. And we
fully support that. And let me say: There’s no intention to change that in way,
shape, manner, or form.
When I was asked the other day about ruling in, ruling out — I’m not much
about, you know, saying what we’ll never do. What — the Constitution requires
that we provide for the common defense before we promote the general welfare.
And so — but the objective here would be that we first recognize, Anna, that
space is already a warfighting domain.
You could argue that since Sputnik orbited the Earth that space has been
militarized. And frankly, all of our military systems today — and frankly, that
of our competitors and potential adversaries around the world are all directly
linked to our satellite technologies today. And so protecting those satellites
— having the ability to secure them to ensure that we have those technologies
sufficiently hardened and protected — and that we also have offensive
capabilities in space has got to be critical to what we do.
And, frankly, just so everybody knows, our — other nations of the world are
already doing this. China recently tested a space-based missile that took out
one of their satellites to demonstrate, presumably, that they could do it. Other
countries are testing new satellite systems that have the ability to move close
to and in proximity of other satellites, with disruptive intent, presumably.
So we just got to stay in the forefront. We’ve got to be as dominant for
security in space. But we have a firm commitment to abide by that treaty —
continue to abide by that treaty. The objective is that we secure space so that
we can lead into space for peaceful purposes and carry our values of freedom and
liberty into the vast beyond.
Q We’re almost out of time. We’re going to have a quick-fire round of three
questions. I’m just saying that because time is almost out. I don’t want to get
yanked offstage without asking these three.
In two-thousand-and — when you were in Congress, you were one of the most
fervent advocates of freedom — of press rights. You sponsored the shield law.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Jake.
Q You were a very fervent advocate of that. You said, in 2005, when you
testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, you said, “As a
conservative who believes in limited government, I believe the only check on
government power in real time is a free and independent press.” Very different
from the “enemy of the people” narrative that’s coming out of the President. I’m
curious how you reconcile those two thoughts.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I do believe that the only check on government power
in real time is a free and independent press. That was enshrined in our Bill of
Rights, it was at the core of the American founding, and it’s a core American
And, let me say, President Trump believes that as well.
Q He does?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Unquestionably. This is a President who believes in the
freedom of the press. This is a President who — part of his career was in the
media. And he has great respect for the role that the press plays.
The President’s complaint, and it’s often mischaracterized — not by you, either
THE VICE PRESIDENT: — but it’s — (laughter) — the President says fake news is
the problem, not news, but things that are projected, things that are
articulated that are knowingly false, or with reckless disregard for the truth
that end up creating, you know, wrong impressions to people. And I think that’s
— look, the President has the right to express himself about the media just
every bit as much as the media has the right to express themselves.
But calling on members of the press to be more careful — I mean, we all aspire
for — I know Politico does — aspires to objectivity. This — put the facts
out, and let people know what’s happening. The editorial page will be the
editorial page. But, frankly, too often we see editorials making their way onto
the front page, and they’re not really listed as editorials.
Frankly, you see — you see headlines like we saw over this weekend that when
the man sending the threats and the devices in mail threatening public figures
around country was captured, the headline in one major newspaper didn’t read,
you know, “Bomb Threat Perpetrator Captured.” It actually made a reference to
President Trump in the headline, because this individual, in some respect,
associated himself or was allegedly a supporter of ours.
Now, the President is no more responsible for this person’s criminal behavior
than Bernie Sanders was responsible for the man who opened fire on a Republican
baseball team. And, frankly, that, to me, was an example of the media going too
far and going into creating an association instead of just reporting the
And but there are many examples. I know, yesterday, on one cable network, there
was a commentator who actually said that the President had radicalized more
people than ISIS. I mean, to compare the President of the United States —
Q She later took that back, but —
THE VICE PRESIDENT: And, you know, good. They should have taken it all the way
back. And I — but — and maybe they did. But, I mean, that kind of commentary
going unchecked in real time does not serve the public interest.
And so, absolutely, President Trump and I are deeply committed to a free and
independent press. We also are committed to the freedom of speech and the
ability of public men and women to call out the press when we think that they’re
not calling it — calling it straight.
Q All right, two out of three questions. The President seems pretty firm on
having a fight over the border wall in December. Can you project for us what
that might look like? Are we looking at a shutdown, as both Jake and I have been
kind of thinking?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, the two words the President most often uses are “we’ll
Q Should we cancel our holiday plans or is that —
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Look, this is — I know you didn’t mean to be light about
it, but it’s no laughing matter. And I have to tell you, the American people —
the American people know that a nation without borders is not a nation. They
know that we’ve got to secure our border.
Part of that is building a wall, having a physical barrier. Another part of that
is making sure that our border agents have the resources and the support that
they need. Another part of that is reforming the laws and ending
catch-and-release, changing the laws, and considering changes like those we were
talking about earlier.
It also means internal enforcement. It also means changing the laws in the
marketplace so that companies can’t profit so openly by having people who come
into this country in violation of the law.
We’ve got to fix a broken immigration system. But the President really does
believe that it all begins with border security first. And saying to this
Congress that we need the funding for the wall — we have to have the funding
for the wall — is something the President has been saying for the last two
years, and we’re going to have that fight before Christmas arrives.
Q Okay. Last question in two parts. Just a yes or no answer, and then we’ll let
you go because I see a lot of people waiting for your departure here. Do you
support — we’re going to have leadership elections in the House in the next
couple of weeks. Do you support Kevin McCarthy to be the next Republican leader?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I support having a Republican Speaker of the House.
Q Well, we know that.
Q Well, yeah.
Q We know that. Right.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: But you know, I was in leadership in the House —
Q I was there. Yeah.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: You know, I’ve done a lot of campaigning out there with
Kevin McCarthy. He’s an outstanding leader and has done a tremendous job as
Majority Leader of the Congress.
You know, there are also others who have expressed an interest in that. Having
run for a leadership position in the conference, I ran once and lost — by a
THE VICE PRESIDENT: And then I ran once and was elected conference chairman. And
you know, I — we’ll just leave the decisions about leadership to the men and
women who are elected in the Republican conference. But the President and I are
absolutely committed to do everything in our power, in every hour between now
and when polls close on November 6th, to make sure that they’re voting for the
next Republican Speaker of the House.
Q You spent a lot of time on 2018 midterms. Will you be on the ticket in 2020?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: It would be the greatest honor of my life to serve a second
term with this President. And what I can tell you is, you know, that the last
two years have just been an incredible experience.
You know, people sometimes ask me what I was thinking on Inauguration Day, and
— up on that stage, when I was getting ready to raise my right hand — and I
always tell people I was I was thinking of my grandfather, Richard Michael
Cawley. I’m Michael Richard Pence. When Richard Michael Cawley came to this
country when he was about my son’s age, in his early twenties, came through
Ellis Island, took the train to Chicago, Illinois. Drove a bus for 40 years.
And up on that stage I just kept thinking about what he’d be thinking. He’s gone
now 30 years, but I think about him all the time. We were very close. And I
always tell people that I think he’d have two thoughts — that Irishman would —
if he was looking down that day.
Number one, I think, he’d have been very surprised. (Laughter.)
Q Now you’re selling yourself.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I mean, he knew me pretty well. But the last thing is, I
would say, I think my grandfather would have been looking down from glory
thinking he was right. Not about me, but about this country. I mean, he left
everything he loved. He left the family behind. Took a one-way ticket on a boat
across the Atlantic. Because there’s a legend in my family that says his mother
said to him, “You need to go to America because there’s a future there for you.”
And to think that his grandson and his namesake, in just the span of a
generation, would be standing on a platform being sworn in as the 48th Vice
President of the United States, it’s a tribute to him. And all the rest of it is
a tribute to the fact that this is a great country, and we will make America
Q All right. Well, thank you so much, Mr. Vice President. (Applause.) We
appreciate you taking the time today. A special thank you to Lockheed Martin for
their support for making this Playbook interview possible.
And thank you to all of you for joining us in the audience and those on the live
stream. Be sure to look at Playbook for updates. And in seven days, we’ll see
what happens. Thank you so much. (Applause.)
END 11:24 A.M. EDT