Aug 13, 2020
Mike Pence Speech Transcript August 13: ‘Support Law Enforcement’ Town Hall
VP Mike Pence spoke at a ‘Support Law Enforcement’ town hall with the Heritage Foundation on August 13. He said: “We will always back the blue”. Read the transcript here.
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Vice President Mike Pence: (00:00)
… here in this barn in the Hawkeye State to look out and see this inspiring gathering. Small but mighty. Men and women wearing the uniform of law enforcement. Let me say to each and every one of you on behalf of the President of the United States, on behalf of your Vice President and on behalf of a grateful nation, thank you for your courageous service every day. We will always back the blue. It is a momentous time in the life of our nation, gone through and are going through a time of testing but soon we’ll come to a time [inaudible 00:00:41] and public safety is very much on the minds of the American people as Senator Ernst just reflected and as you heard from the Secretary of Homeland Security earlier in this very same program. You have a president, you have an administration that are committed to law and order and to supporting men and women who serve on the thin blue line.
Vice President Mike Pence: (01:11)
But I also want to say, I know that here across the heartland of America, you’ve just endured some unprecedented storms and I know that the police officers and sheriffs who are standing before me today, and many that are looking on from afar have played a role in responding to families in the midst of this devastation. We grieve for the loss of three lives in two states. But I met with families today that have literally lost millions of dollars of crops as well and property.
Vice President Mike Pence: (01:43)
But on behalf of all of the families that you responded to and once again that you went into harm’s way where others might have been running in another direction. Let me thank you for what you have done in these unprecedented storms for the people of Iowa and the people of America. Well done. And again, I just want to say thank you to Heritage Action. I know we’re going to be having a conversation in a few moments, but Jessica and Heritage Action are a bulwark of freedom and free markets, but I’m particularly grateful that Heritage Action would use their vast reach across this country to focus on that, which I believe is of first importance for the American people.
Vice President Mike Pence: (02:32)
Security is the foundation of our prosperity. Our nation is able to be free and prosperous because people wear the uniform of the United States and serve at home and abroad defending this nation. But we’re able to live in the most prosperous nation on Earth and to run our businesses, to raise our families because of the thin blue line. Because each one of you ever done straps on a sidearm, puts on a badge, puts on the uniform and you count your lives as less important than ours.
Vice President Mike Pence: (03:09)
I mean, it’s a humbling thing to think about. I love what the Bible says about those who bear the sword. You do not bear the sword in vain, throughout history, the good book says servants for good. And I want to tell you that as we were running for this office four years ago here in the great state of Iowa, and as we’ve served in this office every day since, it’s been a challenging time for law enforcement.
Vice President Mike Pence: (03:34)
In the last administration, it seemed like a reflexive effort to blame police first and we’re hearing the most contemptible slander against law enforcement and even up to this present day. But I want to assure you that your president and this vice president know that the men and women who serve in law enforcement, you’re the best people in this country and you will always have the support of the American people.
Vice President Mike Pence: (04:10)
But this is a challenging time. It truly is and I’m grateful not only for Senator Joni Ernst, but let me also say I’m truly grateful for the service and the leadership in a challenging time by the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. Chad has done a remarkable job for the American people and join me in thanking acting secretary, Chad Wolf for all he does for America every day. I also want to thank, I want to thank Governor Kim Reynolds, who will be along directly. The support that she’s lent to law enforcement here in Iowa.
Vice President Mike Pence: (04:53)
She’s really set an extraordinary standard and we’re truly grateful. Join me in thanking Governor Kim Reynolds for her great leadership during a challenging time for the people of Iowa. We live in a time when we literally have leading politicians that are talking about defunding the police. And as that rhetoric rises from even some of the leading democrat politicians in America. We’re actually seeing a rise in violence across the country in cities where the case for defunding is being made most poignantly.
Vice President Mike Pence: (05:32)
And it’s remarkable to think as liberal politicians are talking about dismantling the police department as they suggested in Minneapolis, cutting NYPD by a billion dollars in New York, in one city after another Seattle, Portland and elsewhere. We also see a rise in crime. I pulled these statistics on the way here on Air Force Two. Atlanta saw 19% rise in shootings and a 9% rise in murders just in the recent days. Chicago’s seen a 42% rise in shootings. Philadelphia has seen a 54% rise in shootings and a 20% rise in murders. New York City actually just reached its 1000th victim with more shootings this year already than in the last two years combined. And 21 people were shot in our nation’s capital last weekend.
Vice President Mike Pence: (06:32)
These are heartbreaking numbers, but I must tell all of you that they’re just a preview of Joe Biden’s agenda for America. The truth is you won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America. When he was asked recently about law enforcement, he actually described well-armed police officers as people that could become “the enemy” to civilians. When he was asked if he would support redirecting funding for law enforcement, Joe Biden replied, ‘Yes, absolutely.”
Vice President Mike Pence: (07:12)
In fact, his new running mate, California Senator Kamala Harris absolutely said when she was a candidate for president that it was time to in her words, “Reimagine police.” I mean, the truth is these efforts of blaming law enforcement for violence in our streets, blaming law enforcement for unrest across America have got to end. We must back the blue and we must support law enforcement for the safety of all of our families of every race and creed and color.
Vice President Mike Pence: (07:59)
There’s a false choice out there the liberal politicians are projecting. It suggests that we’ve got to choose between supporting law enforcement or supporting our African American community. The truth of the matter is we have done both. We will continue to do both. And with President Donald Trump in the White House for four more years, we’re going to support law enforcement and expanded public safety and opportunity for African Americans and every American of every race.
Vice President Mike Pence: (08:36)
We can do both. And that’s why under this administration, we’ve supported funding through the COPS program to hire 4,000 new police officers on the streets of America. It’s also why this president in the wake of senseless violence that continues at this very hour in Portland, Oregon and in cities around the country, the president launched what we call Operation LeGend. It’s actually named after a four-year-old little boy.
Vice President Mike Pence: (09:02)
It’s actually named a four-year-old little boy, LeGend Taliferro. LeGend was in his home, building a pillow fort with his dad. He was asleep that night in the pillow fort when gunfire broke out. Police officers arrived on the scene, they rushed little LeGend to the hospital but we lost him, but let me promise you. That little boy, little LeGend will not have died in vain. Operation Legend is going to save lives of children and families all across America. We will.
Vice President Mike Pence: (09:51)
We’re surging personnel, surging resources, in cooperation with local law enforcement. We’re going to bring peace to our cities and we’re going to quell the violence and what’s the American people deserve. They deserve the support of law enforcement in their cities and that’s what you who serve in law enforcement deserve every day. So I look forward to our conversation today. It’s always humbling to stand before police officers and I never wore the uniform of law enforcement but my uncle was a cop in Chicago, Illinois for 25 years and I remember when we’d drive up from that small town in Indiana where I grew up and we’d go to Chicago to visit my grandparents, me and my three brothers would marvel as he walked out of his bedroom every day, wearing that badge, having that sidearm. We’d look up at him and we’d see a hero.
Vice President Mike Pence: (10:54)
I just want to assure each and every one of you that whatever happens in the public debate, that’s how the American people see you. Each and every one of you, I truly believe with all my heart are heroes and never doubt the American people know it, we’ll always be grateful for the men and women of law enforcement. You’re in the prayers of tens of millions of Americans every day, and let me say to you, but just as much to your families who are gathered here today, thank you for your service. I promise you, we’ll always back the blue. Thank you and God bless you.
Well Mr. Vice President, thank you for those comments and for sitting with us today. It’s such a timely discussion as we spent the afternoon talking about this issue and the need for safety and security both in our neighborhoods, our larger cities, and it expands outside of just Iowa, it’s a nationwide issue so to kick off our discussion today, we have the real privilege of hearing from some audience members that have joined us for our town hall so I’d like to introduce our first, Mr. Devin Sanders. Devin is a local business owner and he is a 12-year combat veteran so Devin, we’ve got your first question. Devin, this is Mr. Vice President. Meet each other and let’s kick it off.
Vice President Mike Pence: (12:38)
Thank you Devin. Great to meet you Devin.
Devin Sanders: (12:40)
You as well. We actually met in Council Bluffs. Appreciate meeting you.
Devin Sanders: (12:40)
The most beautiful day Iowa has to offer.
Vice President Mike Pence: (12:40)
Beautiful day, feels like I’m back in Indiana.
Devin Sanders: (12:44)
So as a small business owner and I’m sure a lot of civilians all across the U.S. and every state. We’ve experienced an uprise and especially as a small business owner who makes … I make wooden flags for a living, I love spreading patriotism, but it seems like every event that I go to, I get harassed, I get told that I should be ashamed of spreading hatred and racism and just for supporting law enforcement and as cheesy as it sounds, I love supporting the flag, it’s the best thing on earth. I think it’s beautiful in everything that it stands for. So my question to you, this past few months have shown how strong the mob and cancel culture is to businesses and private citizens and standing up for their beliefs and livelihood. How has the Trump administration stood up for the safety, the constitutional freedoms of the American people?
Vice President Mike Pence: (13:35)
Well thank you for the question but more than that thank you for your service to America. Thank you. We’re eternally grateful, and it’s good to see you again. It really is. Well look, with regard to public safety, because on the larger question, let me just … I couldn’t be more proud to be vice president to a president who has appointed more than 200 principled conservative men and women to our federal courts at every level who I promise you will uphold all the God-given liberties in our constitution from freedom of religion, freedom of speech to the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. This administration is proud of the way we’ve been able, 200 appointees to our court with the strong support of Senator Chuck Grassley and Senator Joni Ernst and we’ll continue to stand strong for all of those freedoms and all of those liberties. Including the freedom of speech. The right of peaceably assembling, the right as peaceable protest is as old as the nation, but let’s be clear. Burning churches is not protest. Tearing down statues is not peaceful protest. People who destroy businesses and destroy properties and destroy statues will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Justice will be served.
Vice President Mike Pence: (15:12)
I will tell you that in Washington, D.C. and I don’t have to tell the police officers here. There’s no excuse for what happened to George Floyd in Minneapolis and justice will be served, but there’s also no excuse for the rioting and the looting and the destruction of property that followed and that’s why President Trump took the action that he took in Minneapolis. He said to the governor of Minnesota, he said, “Either you quell the violence in your city or we will.” To his credit, Governor Walz deployed the National Guard and brought peace to the streets of Minneapolis. Acting Secretary Wolf will tell you, we had the very same conversation, after weeks and weeks, more than 60 days of violence around the federal courthouse in Portland, our administration spoke with Governor Brown and essentially said to her our federal officials are going to be there to protect the courthouse and to keep peace in the streets around it if you don’t and just a matter of two weeks ago she issued and deployed the state police to the region and deployed Portland police.
Vice President Mike Pence: (16:22)
The violence has continued but the president has made it clear, whether it’s Portland, whether it’s Seattle, whether it’s Chicago, whether it’s New York City, we’re calling on mayors, we’re calling on governors to let law enforcement do your job and if they won’t let you do it, we’ll do it. We have the obligation to bring public safety and security to our streets.
Vice President Mike Pence: (16:48)
Thank you very much.
Mr. Vice President, it’s been such an interesting thing to watch the different phases of the violence and destruction over the last few months and the people that have truly been on the frontlines are our law enforcement officers and so I’d like to call up next Lieutenant [Todd Perdue 00:17:12]. He is 18 years in service here in Iowa, Crawford County sheriff’s office. Lieutenant, thank you for being with us. What is your question today sir?
Vice President Mike Pence: (17:23)
Hey Todd, great to meet you.
Todd Perdue: (17:36)
Thank you Mr. Vice President for being with us today and coming to speak with us.
Todd Perdue: (17:37)
Obviously with everything that’s going on in the country with law enforcement, recruiting and retention has been a big problem. So my question to you is what is the longterm threat to police officer retention from the defunding movement and how can it be combated?
Vice President Mike Pence: (17:45)
Well thank you Lieutenant Perdue and if you just join me in thanking him for a great career of service in law enforcement. Truly grateful to you. Recruitment and retention [inaudible 00:17:57] critical. When I was governor of the state of Indiana, I will tell you some of the most meaningful experiences I had was
Vice President Mike Pence: (18:03)
… you, some of the most meaningful experiences I had was attending graduations from our police academy in the state of Indiana. You’ve been through it. And to see these young men and women step forward and to be willing to put on the uniform of no ordinary career. That’s why I hope all of you leave here, and anybody that’s looking on, know that whatever you might hear in the public debates from the radical left, or their defenders in the Democratic party, the American people are for you. They’re grateful to you. I hear it every day. I see it in the countenance of people. Every time that I speak about law enforcement … I know President Trump sees it in the faces of Americans every time he speaks about law enforcement. I just want to be very clear, the American people love the men and women in law enforcement and we are grateful for what you do every day, really and truly.
Vice President Mike Pence: (19:00)
Now, that being said, I think you raised a very important question. Your first obligation and the calling of your life is public safety. And so, we’re going to support law enforcement to stay on the mission of public safety. Domestic tranquility is a central feature of the purpose of government. But beyond that, the other thing that’s wrong with the language of the radical left is one can’t help but think it is both discouraging courageous young men and women from pursuing a career in law enforcement. And similarly, it’s resulting in people choosing to leave a career in law enforcement. I actually read that roughly a month ago, because of the utter lack of support for NYPD by Mayor de Blasio, that they had to set a limit, a monthly limit on the number of retirements because they couldn’t process the number of officers who were applying to retire out of NYPD early.
Vice President Mike Pence: (20:13)
I mean, that’s heartbreaking. That’s the largest police department in the United States of America. I must tell you, the world saw the character of NYPD and the New York Fire Department on September 11, 2001. These are the greatest people in the world. Many of whom lost their lives on that fateful day of 9/11. And yet, to see the Mayor talking about a billion dollar cut, pulling them back in terms of allowing them to go in and to deal with rioters and protestors, not allowing them to do their job is resulting in people losing a desire to be in law enforcement. And that’s a real cost to public safety and it’s something that we have to talk about. And I think it’s one of the reasons why I’m just so proud to serve alongside a President who backs the blue. I mean, and that’s not to say that there aren’t instances of abuse that have happened.
Vice President Mike Pence: (21:23)
As I said, there’s no excuse for what happened to George Floyd. But, in my experience, nobody hates bad cops more than good cops. And the over … I don’t even want to say the majority, I want to say almost everybody that wears a uniform in the United States are the best of us. And all of you gathered here, that applies to. Your point is so well taken and I hope people looking on who are part of this national debate through Heritage Action will fight for America, will carry this message even more loudly. It compromises our public safety when we don’t give support to law enforcement and let you do your job. It also compromises our public safety when young men and women or experienced law enforcement officers no longer choose to wear the uniform. And that is happening around the country today, but that’s going to stop with four more years of President Donald Trump in the White House, okay?
Thank you. Thank you, sir. And thank you for-
Vice President Mike Pence: (22:22)
Great question. Thank you.
… your service and your question with us here today.
Vice President Mike Pence: (22:26)
Thank you, Lieutenant.
The focus of so much of the attention right now on safety and security, and quelling the violence and restoring law and order really hits home and it hits home to those of us that are mothers, that are raising kids, that are thinking about our future generations and thinking about the country that we will leave behind.
Vice President Mike Pence: (22:47)
How old are your little ones?
I have a seven year old son and a nine month old baby girl, so I have my house full. Thank you. And there’s [crosstalk 00:22:58] a number of families that have joined us here today, they’ve brought their kids. They too are concerned about the direction around safety and security in our neighborhoods. I’d like to introduce [Jen Fogle 00:23:10]. She’s our next testimony today. She’s a mother here in Des Moines. Jen, we’re so honored that you could join us. Please meet the Vice President and-
Jen Fogle: (23:20)
Thank you. It’s a pleasure to meet you.
Vice President Mike Pence: (23:20)
Thank you, Jen.
Jen Fogle: (23:23)
And we’re trying to raise some boys who love God. They’re respectful and love history and their country. As a mother of four kids, it’s difficult and disheartening to watch the destruction happening across America and in some of our own communities. As we witness the diversity of thought come under attack, what is the Trump administration doing to improve educational opportunity for all Americans?
Vice President Mike Pence: (23:50)
Well Jen, number one, these are your boys here? This is your family here? This is great. Stand up. What a beautiful family this is. Wonderful. Three boys, you have three boys?
Jen Fogle: (23:52)
Vice President Mike Pence: (24:05)
Okay. I was going to ask, because I’m one of four boys, so I respect you even more. Thanks for a great question too. Well, let me address that question by simply saying that we’re going to continue to stand strong for all the values and ideals that have made this country great. And I really do believe that the American people are with us. The President often speaks about the silent majority, but I think the silent majority will be silent no more. I hear it and I see it. I read a good amount of my mail every day that comes to the White House and I hear people all the time talking about feeling, in a very real sense, their values, their traditions, their beliefs are under constant criticism by the mainstream media and by politicians on the left. But I really do believe the vast majority of the American people are proud of this country, are proud of law enforcement.
Vice President Mike Pence: (25:23)
We believe in faith, and family, and freedom and are going to step forward in roughly 80 days from now and support men and women that are standing for all of those timeless principles and ideals. I really do believe that the future’s never been brighter for this country. I mean, you think about what we’ve passed through as a nation. In our first three years, because this President rebuilt the military, largest increase in our national defense since the days of Ronald Reagan. And that means a special amount to me, because my son’s a United States Marine. And my son-in-law is a Navy Lieutenant and a pilot. And so, the investments that we’ve been able to be a part of and seen made have meant the world to us and made America safer.
Vice President Mike Pence: (26:10)
But to see an agenda to cut taxes, roll back regulation, unleashed America energy, supported ethanol in places like Iowa, negotiated the kind of free and fair trade of the US MCA. Stood tall on the world’s stage. You may have heard today, for the first time in more than 25 years, a major Arab country formerly recognized the state of Israel, the United Arab Emirates, today. And it’s because of strong leadership, but it’s also been leadership on values. I couldn’t be more proud to serve alongside a President who stands without apology for the sanctity of human life, for religious liberty, and has been appointing leaders and jurists to our courts at every level to defend those principles. And so, I just-
Vice President Mike Pence: (27:01)
To defend those principles. I just want to give you a word of encouragement. I truly do believe that if all of us will let our voice be heard in the days ahead, we’re going to solve the challenges in the time in which we live. We’re going to heal our land, and each and every day, we’re one day closer to the day we put the coronavirus in the past. We have a ways to go, but we’re going to continue to spare no expense. And to make sure that our health care workers, all of those that are struggling with the coronavirus and have the healthcare that we want any of our family members to have.
Vice President Mike Pence: (27:38)
And can I just say thank you to the members of the law enforcement community. You’ve been there for families throughout this coronavirus pandemic and I thank you for your courageous and compassionate leadership in a challenging time for our nation. But I truly do believe as we see our economy starting to come back in the last three months, 9 million people have gone back to work, after we lost 22 million jobs. Let the American people know, that the strength of this nation is derived from our commitment to our national security to public safety. To commitment of freedom and free enterprise and the commitment to the ideals in life and liberties that have always been the well spring of American greatness.
Vice President Mike Pence: (28:23)
And I truly do believe with four more years in the white house, people like Joni Ernst back in the United States Senate, we’re going to make America great again, again. For you and for these beautiful boys. Thank you.
Thank you, sir. Thank you, Jen. Sir, we’ve got time for one more question to squeeze in here. Sergeant Chad Butler, he works for Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. He’s been in law enforcement for 21 years. Which is an incredible amount of service as well. Sir, I’d like to introduce you to Mr. Vice President, to ask your questions today.
Sgt. Chad Butler: (28:58)
I’m very humble to meet you, Mr. Vice President. And want to thank you and President Trump for all you do for law enforcement across the country.
Vice President Mike Pence: (29:07)
Thank you, so much. It’s a privilege.
Sgt. Chad Butler: (29:09)
Thank you. As law enforcement officer, my personal concern about the future of safety and security in this country. What’s the Trump administration’s plan to reform policing in America?
Vice President Mike Pence: (29:19)
Well first, join me in thanking the Sergeant for his career in public service. We are grateful for you. And I want to say to you, Sergeant and everybody in this room. You have the harder job. They only shoot at me with words. I want you to know. Your President and Vice President are grateful to you and admire you and respect you. I’m humbled to meet you. I really am. And I love your question as a stepping off point, because we’re absolutely committed to doing just that. I don’t know if a police officer that I ever met that didn’t want to get better at what you do. And that’s the reason why in the wake of the tragic murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, President Trump signed an executive order. It said, we’re not going to defund the police, we’re going to do the opposite. We’re going to fund the police with additional resources so that you can have more training on the use of force. More training in what you all call de-escalation efforts.
Vice President Mike Pence: (30:35)
We live in an increasingly complex security environment, particularly in our major cities. President Trump recognized that and said that rather than the defunding the police, we’re actually going to fund more training, more support for law enforcement. Combine that with the cops program, more law enforcement personnel on the streets, combine that with Operation Legend that I mentioned that will actually make federal personnel available to support local law enforcement. And that’s how we’ll improve. As I said, we don’t have to choose between supporting law enforcement and supporting our African American community or any of the families that are [inaudible 00:31:19]. That is a false choice. The choice America has made the last three and a half years under this President. The choice you’ve made here under Governor Kim Reynolds. The choice we’re going to make for four more years is we’re going to do both. We’re going to support our African American communities, we’re going to support educational opportunities. We support education and choice. This President supported the largest investment in historically black colleges and universities ever.
Vice President Mike Pence: (31:50)
You just heard Senator Joni Ernst reflect on my friend, Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina. And he offered legislation, the President helped move through the House and Senate that actually is created more than 8,000, what are called opportunities zones in cities, across the country. They’re inviting investment in underserved areas and creating opportunities for people.
Vice President Mike Pence: (32:11)
And I must tell you with that foundation I was just talking about of less taxes, less regulation and more fair trade and more exports, more American energy. We have the lowest unemployment rate ever recorded for African Americans and Hispanic Americans in our first three years. And that we believe is the pathway forward, more support for law enforcement, for training, for resources, for personnel. A commitment to quell the violence on the streets. To make it clear to Governors and Mayors that if they don’t do their job, we will. And secondly is continue to support our African American neighbors, all of families in our cities to make sure that they have safer streets, better schools, more jobs and opportunities. That’s the pathway forward to bringing our country together. And making America great again, for every American. Thank you, Sergeant, thank you for that great question.
Thank you, sir.
Vice President Mike Pence: (33:16)
Thank you, Jess.
So the message today is simple: support law enforcement, return safety and security to our neighbors and we know that to do this and to do this well, that our elected officials need to hear from grassroots Americans all across the country. So with that in mind, today sir, we’re launching a police pledge. And we’re asking Americans from coast to coast to sign it. And it says that we will not support a bill, resolution or movement that seeks to defund the police. And so I’m asking every single one of you here today to sign this pledge at home, watching on our live stream to sign this pledge. And then to turn to your elected officials as the Vice President mentioned Mayors, Governors, city council, members of Congress, Senators all have a role to play as we quell the violence. Sign the police pledge and make this commitment not to defund the police.
You can text 517776 now and sign the pledge today. So with that, we’ll end our time. Thank you, sir so much for being here. Thank you to our law enforcement officers, God bless you, God bless America.
Vice President Mike Pence: (34:29)
Jessica, thank you. Join me in thanking her [inaudible 00:34:33] and thanking all the incredible law enforcement officers and families that are here. Greatest honor of my life, to be your Vice President. God bless you all.