National Harbor, Maryland - Remarks by Vice President Pence at CPAC 2019:
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you, Matt. And hello, CPAC! (Applause.) It is great for us to be back at CPAC 2019, the largest gathering of conservatives anywhere in America. (Applause.) Thanks for coming out.
And I’m honored to be joined here by thousands of conservatives in our nation’s capital, but I also want to give a shout-out to all those great conservatives watching across this country, especially all of our friends joining us live from Lynchburg, Virginia at Liberty University. I’ll see you in May! (Applause.)
And to all of them, and to all of you, I bring greetings from a friend of mine — a man who restored American leadership at home and abroad, and a man who can’t wait to be with you tomorrow. I bring greetings from the 45th President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump. (Applause.)
You know, it’s the greatest honor of my life to serve as Vice President to a President who gets up every day and fights to keep the promises that he made to the American people. (Applause.)
I mean, think about it: This President promised to get this economy moving again. And working with Republican majorities in the Congress, in our first two years, President Trump has cut more federal red tape than any President in American history. (Applause.) We’ve unleashed American energy, and now the United States is the largest producer of oil and natural gas in the world. (Applause.)
Under the President’s strong leadership, we’ve forged new trade deals that finally put American jobs and American workers first. And with the support of this generation of conservatives, President Trump signed the largest tax cut and tax reform in American history. (Applause.) That’s promises made and promises kept!
We cut taxes across the board for working Americans, for American businesses, and we cut out the core of Obamacare. The individual mandate is gone. (Applause.) And the results have been amazing.
As I stand before you today, the American economy is booming. (Applause.) In just over two years, businesses large and small have created 5.3 million new jobs, including over 480,000 good-paying manufacturing jobs that the other side said would never come back. (Applause.)
Unemployment has hit a 50-year low. And more Americans are working today than ever before in the history of this country. (Applause.) The unemployment rate for women has hit a 55-year low. And the unemployment rate for Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans, and African Americans have reached the lowest level ever recorded in American history. (Applause.) And the wages of working Americans are rising at a faster pace than they have in more than a decade.
Under President Donald Trump, working Americans are winning again. The forgotten men and women of America are forgotten no more. (Applause.)
Everywhere you look, confidence is back, jobs are coming back. In a word, America is back — and we’re just getting started! (Applause.)
But for all the progress we’ve made, President Trump has no higher priority than the safety and security of the American people. And from the first days of this administration, this President has worked to make the strongest military in the history of the world stronger still. And last year, President Trump signed the largest investment in our national defense since the days of Ronald Reagan. (Applause.)
We’re modernizing our nuclear arsenal, updating missile defense, and before the year is out, President Donald Trump will launch the sixth branch of our armed forces, the United States Space Force. (Applause.) Under this Commander-in-Chief, we’ll make sure that America is as dominant in space as we are on land and air and sea.
So, we’re rebuilding our military, we’re restoring the arsenal of democracy, and we’re once again giving our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guard the resources they need to accomplish their mission and come home safe. (Applause.)
And we’re also standing with our veterans and all the men and women who have worn the uniform of the United States. And we restored accountability to the VA. (Applause.) We’re finally giving our heroes access to the world-class healthcare they earned in the uniform of the United States. Veterans Choice is here! (Applause.)
And in this administration, we’re also standing every day with the brave men and women of law enforcement, and we’ve been giving all those who stand on the Thin Blue Line the resources and the respect they deserve every single day. (Applause.) And that includes the courageous men and women of Customs and Border Protection — (applause) — who put their lives on the line every single day. Under this President and this administration, we will never abolish ICE. (Applause.)
You know, as the President has said many times: If you don’t have a border, you don’t have a country. And since day one of our administration, we’ve been working to remove dangerous criminals from our streets in record numbers, enforcing our immigration laws, and working to secure our border. And we’ve already started to build that wall. (Applause.)
And I’ll make you a promise: Before we’re done, we’re going to build it all. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Build that wall! Build that wall! Build that wall!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Oh, we’re building it. (Laughter.) As the President often says, “Don’t worry about it.” (Laughter.)
Make no mistake about it, folks: No matter what you hear from the Democrats and their allies in the media, we have a crisis at our southern border, and it’s like nothing we’ve ever seen before.
For the first time ever, the majority of illegal immigrants coming into our country are unaccompanied minors and families — families that are being exploited by drug cartels and human traffickers, encouraging them to make the long and dangerous journey north at a great financial price, and often at a great price to themselves and their safety and well-being.
You know, when President Obama, in 2014, said we had a humanitarian crisis at southern border, 120,000 minors and families crossed our border illegally. Last year, there were 145,000. And in the last four months alone, more than 120,000 unaccompanied minors and families have been apprehended at our southern border.
Now, Democrats want to say it’s a manufactured crisis, but the only thing that’s manufactured is their outrage. (Applause.)
Every day we don’t secure our border, we’re allowing the crisis to worsen, more lives to be endangered, and more people to be exploited, and more drugs to flow into our country.
That’s why President Trump used his authority under the law to declare a national emergency on our southern border. (Applause.) But now — now Democrats are trying to stop the President from exercising the authority that the Congress gave him to address this real crisis.
So today we call on every member of Congress: Stand up for border security, stop playing politics with the security of the American people, and stand with President Trump for a stronger and safer America. (Applause.)
With his renewed commitment to law and order, this President has also been busy seeing to our judicial branch. President Trump has appointed more men and women to our federal courts in the last two years than any administration in American history. And they are all conservatives, like Justice Neil Gorsuch and Justice Brett Kavanaugh! (Applause.)
And they’re conservatives who will uphold all the God-given liberties enshrined in our Constitution, like the freedom of speech, the freedom of religion, and the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. (Applause.)
You know, the freedom of religion is not just enshrined in our Constitution; it’s enshrined in the hearts of the American people. But make no mistake about it: Freedom of religion is under attack in our country. Lately, it’s actually become fashionable for media elites and Hollywood liberals to mock religious belief.
My own family recently came under attack just because my wife Karen went back to teach art to children at a Christian school. Let me say, before all of you, I couldn’t be more proud of my wife. (Applause.) She’s a Marine Corps mom. She’s a great schoolteacher. And Karen Pence is a great Second Lady for the United States of America. (Applause.)
But let me be clear on this point: This is not about us. It’s about all of you. It’s about the sincerely held belief of millions of Americans who cherish their Christian faith and Christian education. And so I’ll make you a promise: Under this President and this administration, we will always stand with people of faith. We will always defend the freedom of religion of every American of every faith, so help us God. (Applause.)
And as we reflect on our God-given liberties, I got to tell you, I couldn’t be more proud to serve as Vice President to the most pro-life President in American history. (Applause.)
Since the first days of this administration, President Donald Trump has stood without apology for the sanctity of human life. In one of his very first acts, the President reinstated the Mexico City Policy, preventing taxpayer dollars from funding abortion or abortion providers around the world. And here at home, President Trump signed a law to allow all 50 states to defund Planned Parenthood. (Applause.) Life is winning in America once again.
But for all the progress we’re making — tragically, at the very moment that more Americans than ever before are embracing the right to life, leading members of the Democratic Party are embracing a radical agenda of abortion on demand.
In state legislatures across the country, Democrats have endorsed late-term abortion. The Democrat governor of Virginia openly defends infanticide. And just four short days ago —
AUDIENCE: Booo —
THE VICE PRESIDENT: — Democrats in the Senate, including every Democratic senator running for president, voted against a bill that would prevent newborn babies who survived failed abortions from being killed.
You know, I’ve long believed that a society can be judged by how it deals with its most vulnerable: the aged, the infirmed, the disabled, and the unborn.
With Democrats standing for late-term abortion, infanticide, and a culture of death, I promise you this President, this party, and this movement will always stand for the unborn. We will always defend the unalienable right to life. (Applause.)
So we’ve restored American strength and security at home, and we’re doing the same thing around the world. And today, under the leadership of President Trump, the United States of America is once again standing proudly as leader of the free world — (applause) — like when this President kept his promise to our most cherished ally and moved the American embassy to Jerusalem, the capital of the State of Israel! (Applause.)
So we’ve stood with our allies and we’ve stood up to our enemies. We’ve taken the fight to radical Islamic terrorists on our terms, on their soil.
In Iraq and Syria, thanks to the courage of our armed forces and our coalition partners, the ISIS caliphate has been decimated, and our troops have liberated 5 million men, women, and children. (Applause.) To see the extraordinary progress they’ve made in liberating millions from the vicious grip of ISIS, I say with conviction, again, what has been said throughout history: The Armed Forces of the United States are the greatest force for good in the history of the world. (Applause.)
At this very hour, along the Euphrates River, the last mile of territory, where the black flag of ISIS once flew, is being captured.
And in the wake of these gains, President Trump has announced that the United States will begin to hand the fight off to our partner and bring our troops home. (Applause.) But be assured of this: We will keep a strong presence in the region. We will get our allies to do more in the fight against ISIS. And together, we will hunt down and destroy the remnants of ISIS wherever and whenever they rear their ugly head — (applause) — so they can never threaten our people or our allies again. (Applause.)
And with that strong leadership on the world stage, President Trump has also confronted the greatest threat to peace and security in the Middle East when he withdrew the United States of America from the disastrous Iran nuclear deal. (Applause.)
The Islamic Republic of Iran is the leading state sponsor of terrorism in the world. Iran supports terrorist proxies, fuels conflicts in the region, plots terrorist attacks on European soil, and openly advocates the destruction of the State of Israel.
Two weeks ago, Karen and I stood and prayed at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi death camp in Poland. The history of that time must never be forgotten. We mourn with those who mourn, and grieve with those who grieve. But we say from our heart: Never again. (Applause.)
As we stood in that place, I thought, when authoritarian regimes breathe out vile anti-Semitic hatred and threats of violence, history teaches we must take them at their word.
Anti-Semitism is not just wrong; it’s evil. (Applause.) Anti-Semitism must be confronted wherever and whenever it arises, and it must be universally condemned. (Applause.)
The Iranian regime openly advocates another holocaust and seeks the means to achieve it. But I can assure you, under President Donald Trump’s leadership, America will continue to stand strong. We will continue to oppose Iran, its malign influence. And I promise you: Under this President, America will never allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon. (Applause.)
So as the world has witnessed over the last two years, under this President, the United States will continue to seek every opportunity to achieve peace, even as we stand strong on the world stage. We’ll approach every challenge with our eyes wide open. President Trump deals with the world as it is, not as we wish it would be.
And the truth is, that effort for peace is nowhere more evident than in the progress that we’ve made in the Indo-Pacific over the last two years. It’s remarkable to think that when I stood at this podium two years ago, North Korea was engaged in regular nuclear tests, launching missiles over Japan, threatening the United States and our allies.
Faced with this threat, President Trump rallied the world around an unprecedented pressure campaign. And the world has witnessed the results: No more nuclear tests. No more missiles being fired. Our hostages are home. And Karen and I had the privilege to be present in Hawaii as the remains of our fallen Korean War heroes began to be returned to American soil. Thanks to President Donald Trump, our boys are finally coming home. (Applause.)
Now, last night, President Trump returned from a second historic summit with North Korea in Vietnam. And as the President said, it was a productive two days, and discussions among teams will continue. But as President Trump said as he departed, “Sometimes you have to walk.” (Applause.)
And I can assure you, after decades of failure with North Korea, under President Trump’s leadership, America will not repeat the mistakes of the past. We will keep seeking peace. But for the sake of our security, the sake of the people of the Korean Peninsula, President Trump will stand firm until we achieve the complete denuclearization of North Korea. (Applause.)
So in just two years under this President’s leadership — from the world stage to here at home — just in case you haven’t noticed, America is winning again. (Applause.) And I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m not getting tired of it. (Applause.)
But to keep on winning, my fellow conservatives, we have a choice to make in the next 20 months. Will we reelect a President who’s making America great again for four more years? (Applause.) Or will we let the Democrats take America on a hard left turn and lose all the gains that we’ve fought so hard to make?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: There you go. You know, America was founded on a simple idea, and that idea is freedom. (Applause.)
But over my lifetime, the support for liberty, a strong national defense, free enterprise, inalienable rights, has principally fallen to our party and to this movement.
Today, Democrats openly advocate an economic system that has impoverished millions of people around the world. Under the guise of Medicare for All and a Green New Deal, Democrats are embracing the same tired economic theories that have impoverished nations and stifled the liberties of millions over the past century. That system is socialism.
Remarkably, a leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination is an avowed socialist. But it’s not just him. Bernie has been joined by a chorus of candidates and newly elected officials who have papered over the failed policies of socialism with bumper-sticker slogans and slick social-media campaigns.
But what they’re actually offering is just more of the same: more taxes, more spending, more government, and less freedom.
It was freedom, not socialism, that gave us the most prosperous economy in the history of the world. (Applause.)
It was freedom, not socialism, that ended slavery, won two world wars, and stands today as the beacon of hope for all the world. (Applause.)
It was freedom, not socialism, that’s moving us beyond the prejudices of the past to create a more perfect union and extend the blessings of liberty to every American regardless of race or creed or color. (Applause.) It was freedom.
And it was freedom, not socialism, that gave us the highest quality of life, the cleanest environment on Earth, and improved the health and well-being of millions around the world. It was freedom.
What Medicare for All really means is quality healthcare for none. The only thing green about the so-called Green New Deal is how much green it’s going to cost taxpayers if these people ever pass it into law. (Applause.)
You know, Margaret Thatcher probably said it best: “The trouble with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.” (Applause.)
The truth is, we want people to make poor people richer; they want to make rich people poorer. We want to make poverty more rare; they want to make poverty more comfortable. And that’s the choice we face today, men and women, between freedom and socialism, between personal responsibility and government dependence. Where freedom encourages investment, socialism stifles growth. Where freedom welcomes diversity, socialism demands conformity.
And as President Trump said in his State of the Union Address, “America was founded on liberty and independence, and not government coercion, domination, and control.” (Applause.)
The moment America becomes a socialist country is the moment that America ceases to be America. (Applause.) And as the President said 24 days ago, so we must say with one voice, “America will never be a socialist country.” (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: USA! USA! USA!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: We know where socialism leads. If you want socialism, just look at Venezuela.
Venezuela was once one of the richest and most vibrant democracies in the Western Hemisphere, but under Maduro’s socialist rule, it’s become one of the poorest and most despotic. Today, more than 9 out of 10 people live in poverty in that once-rich country. More than 3 million Venezuelans have abandoned their homes and fled the brutality of the Maduro regime.
But the struggle in Venezuela is between dictatorship and democracy. The struggle in Venezuela is between socialism and freedom.
And as I told world leaders in Colombia just this week, Nicolas Maduro is a dictator with no legitimate claim to power, and Nicolas Maduro must go. (Applause.)
The truth is Venezuela needs what America has. Venezuela needs freedom. (Applause.)
Freedom is about enabling people to live their lives as they see fit, not government control.
Freedom produces more and better goods than any system in any other place and time in American world history.
Freedom is more generous, more helpful, and more humane than any other social or economic model ever attempted because it’s the only philosophy that respects the dignity and worth of every single life and sees every man, woman, and child as made in the image of God. (Applause.) That’s freedom. That’s our heritage. (Applause.)
And freedom works. This is what we believe. This is who we are. But this is the choice we face in the next 20 months.
So, men and women of CPAC, we’ve got work to do. I came here to say thanks; to look back over the shoulder and make sure you knew just how much we’ve accomplished with this President and with your support in just two short years.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: We love you, Mike! (Applause.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: But now we have more work to do. (Applause.) But now we have more work to do. And just as we did in 2016, 20 months from now the American people are going to face a choice once again.
You know, two years ago, in Poland, President Trump declared, and I quote, “The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive.”
As we gather here today, we must ask our movement the same question. As the President went on to say that day, in his words, “Do we have [the] confidence in our values to defend them…?”
THE VICE PRESIDENT: “Do we have enough respect for our citizens to protect our borders?”
THE VICE PRESIDENT: “Do we have the desire and the courage to preserve our civilization…?”
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Looking out across this room, looking out across this great movement, I know we do. (Applause.)
We have the strength, we have the determination, we have the courage to stand for freedom. Because I have faith — faith in the American people — that if we go out and speak freedom to the people of this nation every day in the next 20 months, that if we lay out a vision for a boundless American future based on timeless American principles, if we lay out a choice between freedom and socialism, the American people will choose freedom every single time. (Applause.)
The President and I both know that if we hold the banner of freedom high, if we put into practice those words of Scripture inscribed on the Liberty Bell to “proclaim liberty throughout all the land [and] unto all the inhabitants thereof,” the American people will rally to our cause once again. (Applause.)
We will keep on winning. We will keep on growing. And we will preserve freedom for this generation and the next. (Applause.)
So, as you go from this place, go with confidence. Confidence that you have a President that’s fighting every day for the ideals and the values that are at the heart of American greatness. Confidence in the goodness of the American people and the rightness of our cause. And confidence that if we will ask for the blessings of Him who established this miracle of democracy on these wilderness shores so long ago, that we cannot fail. For where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. So freedom always wins. (Applause.)
The men and women of CPAC, it was great to be with you today. But time’s a wasting. (Applause.) We’ve got work to do. But I leave here with renewed confidence that, if all of us do all that we can between now and November of 2020 to hold up freedom, to protect our people, to defend our values, and with President Donald Trump in the White House, with more conservatives elected to our nation’s capital and to state houses across this nation, and with God’s help, we will make America safe again. (Applause.) We will make America more prosperous than ever before. And to borrow a phrase from a friend of mine, we will make America great again.
Thank you very much. (Applause.) God bless you. And God bless the United States of America.