Kalamazoo, Michigan - Remarks by Vice President Pence to a Meeting of Faith Leaders:
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, hello, Michigan! It is wonderful to be back in Michigan. It’s great to be with all of you. Thank you all for coming out today. And before I go one step further, would you all just join me in thanking Jeff and Beth Jones for this incredible hospitality — (applause) — opening up.
And I did apologize, when I arrived, to Jeff for being early. (Laughter.) He said to me, “Yeah, this is church. We don’t do church early.” (Laughter.) Is that how you put that? But I’m grateful you all would be here.
And to no less extent, let me just thank — I was reading on Air Force Two, on the way here, about all the great ministries that are represented here, the impact on lives of the people of western Michigan that all of you have each and every day. And I want to promise you that you have a President and a Vice President who know that there is no podium that we will ever speak behind that is of greater consequence than the pulpits that you stand behind every Sunday. And we are grateful for the ministry in the lives of the people of this state that are represented here. (Applause.) We truly are.
And as I — as I get started, allow me to bring greetings from a friend of mine. I talked to him last night in London and he will soon be on Air Force One, headed back across the Atlantic. But when I told him I was going to be in Michigan, I think he sounded just a little bit jealous. (Laughter.) So allow me to bring greetings and gratitude for the confidence the people of Michigan have placed in his leadership and for your prayers and your support. I bring greetings from the 45th President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump. (Applause.)
Isn’t he something? (Laughter.) I’ll tell you what — (laughs) — I’ll tell you what — we got to be very close over the last four years since we first became acquainted. And it’s an incredible honor for me to serve alongside a President who I promise you, whatever they’re talking about in Washington, D.C., he gets up every day to keep the promises that he made to the people of Michigan.
And that’s really what I came to talk to you about today. In fact, I started my morning this morning on Capitol Hill. And I just went there to the House Republican Conference. And I had a chance to see a couple of really great people like Congressman Fred Upton — (applause) — and Congressman Bill Huizenga. Give them a round of applause. (Applause.) They’re great, great representatives and great partners.
But I went there to talk to all the Republicans as we see that Democrats on Capitol Hill once again continuing this three years of endless investigations, their partisan impeachment that continues again today. And I went there, as I’ve come here to Michigan, to talk about all that we’ve accomplished in the last three years. Because it really is incredible.
I mean, when you think about the leadership of this President and what his vision and what our partners in Congress have accomplished over the last three years, I think there’s only one way you can describe it: It’s been three of action. It’s been three years of results. It’s been three years of promises made and promises kept. But we’re just getting started, Michigan. And that’s why we need four more years of President Donald Trump in the White House. (Applause.)
So there’s a lot I could talk to you about today. And I want to touch on just a few things. And most especially, I want to talk about the values and the freedoms that this President and this administration have stood for and advanced that are so precious to the American people and so vital to the ministries that you all represent — not only here in Michigan, but the way your ministries echo and impact all over the world.
But, first and foremost, I have to tell you, you know, whatever title I ever have the privilege of holding, I’ll never have a higher title than “D-A-D.” (Laughter.) And it was very nice of Beth to mention our family and to remember them in prayer. We just had a great Thanksgiving. We actually gathered with my son and daughter-in-law down at the — down at the base in South Carolina, where he is stationed, because I’m the proud father of a United States Marine. (Applause.)
In fact, we have two wonderful daughters that are both going to get married in the next six months. (Laughter.)
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Wow.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Wow. (Laughter.) Yeah, tell me about it. But I’m proud to say our daughter, Audrey, is finishing grad school and is getting married in the spring. But before the month is out, our middle daughter is going to marry a graduate of the Naval Academy, a naval aviator. So I’ll have two unworthy son-in-laws — (laughter) — and one of them will be serving in the United States Navy as well. I couldn’t be more proud.
And I have to tell you, the reason I mention that is, you know, for my wife and I, our lives didn’t take us into the uniform of the United States. But Karen’s dad was in the Air Force, my dad was in combat in Korea. And having members of our family serving in our military, I couldn’t be more proud to report to you today that I think the American Armed Forces have had no better friend than President Donald Trump. (Applause.) I mean, think about it — no greater champion.
This President has already signed the largest increases in our national defense since the days of Ronald Reagan. It’s incredible. We’re working, even as we speak, for another pay raise for our military, providing them, I promise you, always with the resources and the support that they need to accomplish their mission and defend this nation.
And with that renewed American strength, we’ve seen the progress our military has made not just defending this nation, but taking the fight to radical Islamic terrorists on our terms, on their soil.
I mean, it’s amazing to think, when we took office, ISIS terrorists had overrun vast areas of Syria and Iraq. But thanks to the courage of our armed forces, and the leadership of our Commander-in-Chief, in March of this year, the last inch of territory under the black flag of ISIS was captured by American troops. (Applause.)
And I have to tell you, I’ve never been prouder to be an American than that night, just a little bit over a month ago, when I sat next to the President of the United States in the Situation Room. I watched in real time as the greatest military force in the history of the world descended on a compound in Syria. And now I can report to you that the leader of ISIS is gone. Al-Baghdadi is no more, without one American casualty. (Applause.)
America is safer as a result, the world is safer as a result, of what our armed forces did and the decisiveness of our Commander-in-Chief.
And I’m also happy to report to you that Conan, the hero dog, is just fine. (Laughter and applause.) He and I got a little better acquainted about a week ago at the White House. You can look it up on the Internet. It was a great moment.
But it really is incredible. With that renewed American strength, in a very real sense, President Trump has had America embrace our role again as leader of the free world. And the world witnessed it again in London of this week when the President was standing with our NATO Allies. And remember, three years ago, he went over and he said that our NATO Allies needed to be living up to our commitments to our common defense. He did. He created quite a consternation over there in Europe.
But I’m proud to report to you, today, he just finished a lunch with all of the NATO countries that have met their 2 percent commitment to our common defense. A hundred and thirty billion dollars more invested by our Allies in this historic alliance because of President Trump’s leadership. (Applause.)
So we’ve stood up to our enemies, we’ve stood with our allies. And nowhere more so is that true than the way this President stood with our most cherished ally. It was four administrations in a row that promised that they would recognize the capital — the capital of our most cherished ally in its historic place; the capital that that nation recognized. But it was President Donald Trump who recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel — (applause) — and moved the United States Embassy there. (Applause.) Incredible.
Now, I can tell — I can honestly tell you, and I can tell all the great ministers in this room — and I know, in every little buckboard church that dots the landscape of this country, that since before the founding of America, that aspiration of seeing Israel restored to her historic home was there.
And it happened, and it happened in the last century, and America was the first nation on Earth to recognize Israel. But it was this President — this President who’s recognized Israel’s capital and moved our embassy and recognized the Golan Heights are a part of Israel. And I promise you, this President and this administration will stand with Israel. (Applause.)
And I have to tell you, it’s very humbling for me to be a part of it — a little small part. And to say that the whole world was against the President moving our embassy to Jerusalem was an understatement. I mean, I was there. I saw one world leader call. I saw one foreign policy expert after another reach out to this President. But you know what? When he made that decision, he made that decision in the interest of peace. This is a President who believes that the way that you can achieve peace is you take off the table what’s not negotiable. And Jerusalem as the capital of Israel was — it’s a historic truth.
But beyond that, this President also has — it demonstrated in that moment, I can tell you, my friends, that he’s a man of his word. I mean, every time every phone call, every meeting ended, he would end it by saying to them, “But I told people that’s what I was going to do.” And he did it.
And I have to tell you a funny story. So when they dedicated the embassy in Jerusalem, our ambassador there did me an incredible honor. They had a little cornerstone on the embassy. If you make it to Jerusalem, if you take a ministry or a group over there, you need to go by and see our embassy. But there’s a little cornerstone, and they appropriately listed the name of the President of the United States and the date of the dedication. They listed the name of our ambassador, David Friedman. And then, for some reason, the ambassador added my name and my title.
And someone sent me a picture of it, and I walked it back to the Oval Office the day that I got it and I slid in front of the President. And he looked at it, and I handed him a pen and he said — he said, “Oh, that’s a great picture.” He says, “Who am I signing this for?” I said, “That one is for me.” (Laughter.)
Because I have to tell you, I just couldn’t be more proud. I couldn’t be more proud to serve alongside a President who has stood so strong with our more cherished ally. It was truly special.
So it’s been about leadership. It’s been about our national defense. But it’s also been about this economy. I mean, men and women, I know it’s — it’s not what they talk about on most of your major cable television stations, but the American economy is booming.
I mean, 6.7 million new jobs created by businesses large and small since Election Day 2016, including 75,000 jobs right here in the state of Michigan. (Applause.) It’s incredible.
And it didn’t happen by accident. You know, after eight years that saw less than 2 percent annual growth in the most powerful economy in the history of the world, this President took the promises that he made to the people of Michigan and we went right to work with our allies in the Congress.
We cut taxes for individuals, for families, for businesses large and small. We rolled back more federal red tape than any administration in American history already. We unleashed American energy. This low-cost energy is the driving force of manufacturing in this country and supports so much of our economic vitality. We fought for free and fair trade, opening markets around the world.
And the results speak for themselves. I mean, not only 10 — not only millions of jobs created all across this country, but maybe most exciting to the President is that wages are rising, and they’re rising most rapidly for hard-working, blue -collar Americans.
I mean, the average household income in this country has risen by more than $5,000 a year. That’s after inflation. That’s real disposable income.
You know, as people marveled at Black Friday sales and at Cyber Monday, you know, people are spending money because they got it, because wages are rising, and the American people know it. It’s really incredible.
And make no mistake about it: The rise in the stock market has made an incredible difference in this country. Literally, increase in value on the stock market — which is increase in value in 401(k)s, increase in value in pensions — has risen — the stock market has increased by more than 50 percent. Twelve trillion dollars in wealth has been created for the American people because we put commonsense, pro-growth policies into effect. (Applause.)
And I’ll never forget — I’ll never forget, Jeff and Beth, I was — Karen and I slipped away for a whole day and half of vacation. (Laughter.) We like to go down to Sanibel Island; we’re on the west coast of Florida. We were sitting on the beach, ball caps on, sunglasses — this was spring break of this year — and these two big boys came walking by me wearing Budweiser shirts. And, you know, the local media had said that we were there in town. They kind of knew we were there.
And so this fella stops, he looks at me sitting there in the sunshine, and he said, “You’re Pence.” And I said, “Yes, I am.” (Laughter.) And he said, “Well, listen.” He said, “You got to tell the President that he’s got to keep doing what he’s doing, because I made twice as much money last year as I made the year before.” (Applause.) It’s true.
And you know what? I was delighted — I was absolutely delighted. I said, “I’m going to tell the President that word for word” — and I did later in the day.
And then he took three steps away, smiled to himself, and turned back around, and he said, “And I don’t know what you do, but keep doing what you’re doing too.” (Laughter.) And I told him I would, because it’s working for America. The American Dream is working. (Applause.)
So it’s been about — it’s been about security. It’s been about standing tall in the world again. It’s been about making America safer and more secure. It’s been about making America more prosperous.
But I have to tell you, I wanted to come here today and make sure you all knew, as leaders in the faith community here in western Michigan, the priority this President has placed on ensuring the freedom of religion and the freedom of speech of every American. (Applause.)
We really understand as — actually, Alexis de Tocqueville wrote in “Democracy of America” that the greatest of America doesn’t come from her corridors of government, federal or state, and it doesn’t even come from the bustling factories and industries and farms of this country. The strength of this country comes out of the character and the faith of the American people in preserving that freedom and preserving that faith.
And let me be very clear: This President, this Vice President, this administration will always defend the freedom of religion of every American of every faith, so help us God. (Applause.) And we’ve done it.
A couple of things you can share with your congregations as you see fit, because it’s progress that we’ve made. Now, this administration and the President took steps early on to end the last administration’s assault on the Little Sisters of the Poor. There was a peace cross in Maryland — you may have seen it in the news — that was actually constructed decades ago to honor fallen heroes in World War One. Liberal activists made efforts to get it taken down in the name of separation of church and state, saying that the freedom — freedom of religion is the freedom from religion. And our administration intervened in the case, and the Supreme Court voted 7 to 2 to keep the peace cross standing. (Applause.)
In fact, the VA, you may have heard — the VA in New Hampshire not long ago was caught up in another case. I mean, it’s amazing to think the policies enacted in the last administration had resulted in Bibles being removed from VA hospital rooms and displays in lobbies. It’s a true story.
In fact, in many VA facilities, they weren’t allowing people to sing Christmas carols in the hallways. And again, at President Trump’s direction, our Secretary of the VA took action. We implemented new policies and new plans, and we sent a very simple message to a hospital in New Hampshire that they were trying to remove the Bible from a Missing Man Table in the lobby. And our message said, “We got new rules. You got a new President. The Bible stays.” (Applause.)
And you all know, as ministers, that this President also believes that the freedom of speech should not end at the front door of your churches. And he took decisive action to end the enforcement of the Johnson Amendment — (applause) — and freed up the freedom of speech of pastors and ministers and rabbis — people of every faith in this country.
So we’re standing for religious liberty here at home, which is our first freedom. It’s the first freedom of the American people, that the American people cherish.
But I want to assure you also — because I know so many of these ministries have impacts around the world — I want to tell you, I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of an administration that has stood for the persecuted people of faith around the world. This President has worked tirelessly to secure the release of Americans facing persecution in captivity. We’ve seen Americans released in Egypt, Venezuela, Korea. And Pastor Andrew Brunson is home. (Applause.)
And I want to tell you, if you didn’t know that President Trump is relentless, I can tell you he’s relentless. (Laughter.)
I saw one meeting after another where he met with the President of Turkey and literally — literally brought up a incarcerated Christian pastor in every single meeting and told him that we needed him home, and insisted. And, in fact, if you recall, the President took action using the economic power of the United States of America, and Turkey came around.
So we’ve stood for religious liberty. In fact, I’m proud to say that this President and his Vice President and our Secretary of State were proud to actually host the very first ministerial at the United Nations on religious liberty just this last September. (Applause.)
Of course, the vanguard of all of our liberties is, of course — under our system — is our judiciary. And as I stand before you today, with the strong support of our allies in the United States Senate, this President has already confirmed more than 170 judges to our federal courts at every level, and they are all principled conservatives who will uphold all the God-given liberties enshrined in our Constitution. (Applause.) And that doesn’t even include Justice Neil Gorsuch or Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who are principle men who will interpret our laws as written.
So it’s been — it’s been about defending our liberties at home. It’s about standing with persecuted believers around the world. It’s about strengthening the foundation — the constitutional foundation of our courts.
But I will tell you, from my heart and from the heart of our little family, I couldn’t be more proud to serve as Vice President to a President who stands without apology for the sanctity of human life. (Applause.)
And it hasn’t just been words. You all know, from the first days of this administration, President Trump actually expanded what’s known as the Mexico City Policy and ensured that no taxpayer dollars would go to fund organizations around the world that provide or promote abortion. And we’ve expanded it in the years that have followed to make sure that our resources around the world respect the values of millions of Americans.
And this President — I think Beth was talking about the National Day of Prayer — this President actually addressed the March for Life from the Rose Garden. And in our first year — I have to tell you another story — can I tell you another story? (Laughter.)
We were just in office a couple of weeks, and the March for Life that marks that dark anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, that hundreds of thousands of people — many young people from around the country come to the National Mall in the dead of winter to stand for life. It’s incredibly inspiring.
And the President — actually, the day that it was taking place, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom was visiting the White House. And so, the day before, we were discussing the next day’s events, and they said to the President, “Well, you’re not — you’re not going to be able to address the group because you have a head of state visiting.”
And I was standing next to the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office, and I looked at the President, and I had said, you know, “You know, they invited me too.” (Laughter.) The President looked up and me and he said, “They invited you to speak?” And I said, “Yes, at the march.” And he says — and he says, “I mean, do you want to do it?” And I said, “Well, I spoke like 10 years in a row when I was in Congress. We never missed it. We’d take our kids and stuff.” And he said, “Well, you should definitely go.” (Laughter.) And I became the first Vice President in American history to address the March for Life on the National Mall — (applause) — because President Donald Trump told me to go. It was very humbling.
And my wife, and my daughter Charlotte, who’s become a great, great champion and a voice for life around the country, was with us as well. And the President, as I said, addressed the March for Life from the Rose Garden the next time.
And I have to tell you, among all the things that we’ve done for life — you know, as president of the Senate, which is the role the Vice President plays, I get to cast tie-breaking votes. I’ve actually cast about a dozen of them or more. Okay? But I was never more proud than the day I got to cast the tiebreaking vote to allow states to defund Planned Parenthood. (Applause.) And President Donald Trump signed the bill!
So it’s been an incredible record. An incredible record. And I get — I mean, to be able to be traveling across western Michigan today on a big, old bus that’s just outside — (laughter) — to be able to tell this story over the next year is incredibly — it’s incredibly humbling for me. But to stand before so many faith leaders in this community and be able to reflect on what we’ve done together, for faith and for our first freedom — the freedom of religion — to strengthen the character and the foundations of this country is deeply inspiring to me.
But obviously we have a choice to make in the next year. And for all that we have done for a stronger, more prosperous America, a more secure America — all that we’ve done for our freedoms — I don’t need to tell you about the other party. I mean, the truth of the matter is that while the Democrats in Congress have been spending the last three years on endless investigations and a partisan impeachment, we’ve seen the Democratic Party nationally taking a leftward turn like I never thought I’d see in my lifetime.
I mean, it’s amazing to think that at a time when life and liberty are winning in America, the Democratic Party today is embracing far-left, radical policies on economic issues and on social issues and the values that we most cherish.
I mean, on economic policy, it’s amazing to think — it’s amazing to think that a major political party in this country could actually openly advocate an economic system that has impoverished millions of people around the world and robbed the liberties of generations.
To this day, in places like Cuba and Venezuela and elsewhere around the world, socialism is — socialism is a scourge. And yet, now we have leading voices in the Democratic Party. Well, I think the people of Michigan know it was freedom, not socialism, that created the most prosperous and powerful nation in the history of the world. It was freedom. (Applause.)
It was freedom, not socialism, that ended slavery, won two World Wars, and has made America a beacon of hope for all mankind. And that’s why, over the next 11-some-odd months, we need to say what the President said in that State of the Union Address, with one voice: that America will never be a socialist country. (Applause.)
At a time when we see the other party advocating a radical agenda of late-term abortion and even having some of its leaders defending infanticide, we need to be out and be champions for life and liberty, and telling people what the choice is. I mean, I think — I think this — the choice in this election has never been clearer but the stakes have never been higher.
I mean, the people of Michigan stepped forward and they saw the vision and the leadership that President Donald Trump could bring to this country. And the results speak for themselves over the last three years — what we’ve been able to do, confirming the confidence the people of Michigan placed in this President and in that vision.
But the other side, in a very real sense, with one bad night in November of next year, we could lose all the progress that we’ve made.
And so I want to challenge each and every one of you to let your voice be heard. I hope I’ve said a few things today. I hope you say, “You know, I was in Kalamazoo the other day and I stopped by to see Jeff and Beth, and ran into Mike” — (laughter) — “and he showed up early just because he had so much to say about what President Donald Trump has accomplished for Michigan and America.” (Applause.)
You all are leaders in your communities. You’re leaders in your communities. And I just encourage you to use your voice and tell people what we’ve accomplished about the values that we hold most dear. Tell people what we’ve done to make the country more secure and more prosperous.
And the last thing I’d encourage you to do is what I know I don’t have to ask you to do. You know, I’m someone who believes in prayer. And as Beth said, the President said memorably early in our administration that one thing you learn traveling all over this country — like your President and your Vice President get to do on a regular basis — is that this is a nation of faith. It truly is. And the sweetest words the President and I ever hear are when people will reach across a rope line, stop you on a street corner, and just say, “I’m praying for you.”
AUDIENCE MEMBER: We are!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: And you can tell when people mean it. You know what I’m saying? I mean, you can, because in your ministry sometimes you’ll have people stop after church and say, “I’m praying for you,” and you go, “Well, I don’t know.” (Laughter.) Maybe they are. But then somebody will stop you and, man, you know when they say, “I pray for you, I pray for your wife, I pray for the President,” you know they mean it. And it’s a humbling thing. It’s a humbling thing. Because I believe that prayer reaches Heaven, His holy dwelling place.
I believe that the effective and fervent prayer of a righteous nation availeth much. And I believe that if His people, who are called by His name, will humble themselves and pray, He’ll do like He’s always done in the long and storied history of this country. In these too divided of times, He’ll hear from Heaven and He’ll heal this land. (Applause.)
So I encourage you — I encourage you to let your voice be heard. Tell people what they’re not hearing on most of their major cable television stations every day, okay? Tell them about the ways America is more secure and more prosperous.
But I’d just encourage you to keep telling your congregations to pray for America, pray for all the people of America, because it’ll make a difference. It’ll make a difference in the life of this nation, and it’ll see us through these challenging times.
And I really do believe, as I go across this country and I see the determination of people, and I hear the appreciation they have for a President that’s kept his promises, and I see the progress that we’ve made for a stronger and more secure America, I just know — I know — I know that I know that, with your continued support and prayers, with renewed Republican leadership from Capitol Hill to statehouses around the country, with four more years of President Donald Trump in the White House, and with God’s help, we’re going to make this state and nation more prosperous than you could possibly imagine. We’re going to make this state and nation more secure than it’s ever been before. We’re going to inspire the world with the heights that we achieve when we keep America great.
Thanks, everybody. God bless you. (Applause.) God bless Michigan, and God bless America.