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 invitation.
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 that.
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 change?
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 is facing.
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 election ploy?
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 country illegally.
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? (Laughter.)
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 Politico. (Laughter.)
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 again.
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. (Laughter.)
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 people.
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 government already?
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 space.
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 platforms.
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 exploration.
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 armed forces.
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 principle.
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 one —
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 straight facts.
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 see.” (Laughter.)
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. (Laughter.)
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 lot. (Laughter.)
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 great again.
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.)
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