Living History Farms
Urbandale, Iowa

August 13, 2020
3:55 P.M. CDT

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you. Thank you so much, Jessica. And thank you all. Please be seated. We’ve got an incredible group here. It’s wonderful to be in Iowa. I want to thank Heritage Action for hosting us. And thank you all for coming out as we fight for America. (Applause.)

And it’s a great honor for me, standing 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. (Applause.)

It is a momentous time in the life of our nation. We’ve gone through and are going through a time of testing, but soon we’ll come to a time for choosing. 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. (Applause.)

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. And we grieve for the loss of three lives in two states.

But I met with families today that had literally lost millions of dollars of crops, as well, and property. But on behalf of all of the families that you responded to, that 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. (Applause.)

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 — would use their vast reach across this country to focus on that which I believe is of first importance for the American. I mean, 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 — because of the Thin Blue Line; because each one of you every day, straps on a sidearm, puts on a badge, puts on a uniform, and you count your lives as less important than ours.

I mean, it’s a humbling thing to think about. I love what the Bible says about — about those who bear the sword, that “you do not bear the sword in vain.” Throughout history you are — as the Good Book says, “servants for good.”

And I want 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. In the last administration, there was, it seemed, like a reflexive effort to blame police first. And we — 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 are the best people in this country. You’re the best people in this country, and you will always have the support of the American people. (Applause.)

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’s (inaudible) every day. (Applause.)

I also want to thank — I want to thank Governor Kim Reynolds, who will be along directly and — (microphone cuts out.)

Try this one.

The support that she’s lent to law enforcement here in Iowa, 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. (Applause.)

You know, we live in a time when we — we literally have leading politicians that are talking about defunding the police. And as that rhetoric rises from — 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 pointedly. And it’s remarkable to think as liberal politicians are talking about dismantling the police department, as they’ve 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 a 19 percent rise in shootings, and a 9 percent rise in murders just in the recent days. Chicago has seen a 42 percent rise in shootings. Philadelphia has seen a 54 percent rise in shootings and a 20 percent rise in murders. New York City actually just reached it’s 1,000th victim, with more shootings this year, already, than in the last two years combined. And 21 people were shot in our new nation’s capital last weekend. 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, quote, “the enemy” to civilians. When he was asked if he would support redirecting funding for law enforcement, Joe Biden replied, “Yes, absolutely.” And, in fact, his new running mate, California Senator Kamala Harris, actually said when she was a campaign — or 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. We must support law enforcement for the safety of all of our families of every race and creed and color. (Applause.)

You know, there’s a false choice out there that 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 expand public safety and opportunity for African Americans and every American of every race. (Applause.) We can do both.

I mean, 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 — 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. (Applause.) We will.

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 that’s what 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.

And so I look forward to our conversation today. It’s always humbling to stand before police officers. You know, my — 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.

And 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 to blue.

Thank you and God bless you. (Applause.)

MS. ANDERSON: Well, Mr. Vice President, thank you for — for those comments and for sitting with us today. It’s — it’s such a timely discussion as we’ve 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 — it’s a nationwide issue.

So to kick off our discussion today, we have the — the real privilege of hearing from some audience members that have joined us —

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Great.

MS. ANDERSON: — for our town hall.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Great.

MS. ANDERSON: 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. (Applause.)

Devin, this is Mr. Vice President. Meet each other, and let’s kick us — kick it off.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Devin. Great to meet you, Devin.

MR. SANDERS: You as well. We actually met in Council Bluffs.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Ah.

MR. SANDERS: Appreciate meeting you.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Great memory.

MR. SANDERS: Thanks for coming on the most beautiful day Iowa has to offer.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Beautiful day. It feels like I’m back in Indiana. (Laughter.)

MR. SANDERS: I’m sorry about that. So as a small-business owner — and I’m sure a lot of civilians all across the U.S. in every state — we’ve experienced a — 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: As the past few months have shown how strong the mob and cancel culture is to businesses and private citizens when standing up for their beliefs and livelihood, how has the Trump administration stood up for the safety and constitutional freedoms of the American people?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you for the question. But more than that, thank you for your service to America in uniform. We’re truly grateful. (Applause.) And it’s good to see you again. It really is.

Well, look, with regard to public safety — on the larger question, let me just — I couldn’t be more proud to be Vice President to a President who’s 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 the freedom of religion, the freedom of speech, to the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.

And this administration is proud of the way we’ve been able — 200 appointees to our courts 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.

I mean, the right to peaceably assembling, the right to 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. (Applause.)

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.” And 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 this 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.” In just a matter of two weeks ago, she issued and deployed the state police to the region and deployed Portland police.

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.

MS. ANDERSON: Thank you. Thank you.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. (Applause.)

MS. ANDERSON: Mr. Vice President, it’s been just 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. He is a — 18 years in service here in Iowa, Crawford County Sheriff’s Office.

Lieutenant, thank you for being with us. And what is your question today, sir?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Hey, Todd, great to meet you.

LIEUTENANT PERDUE: Thank you, Mr. Vice President, for being with us today and coming to speak with us.

Obviously, with everything that’s going on in the country with law enforcement, recruiting retention has been a big problem. So my question to you is: What is the long-term threat to police officer retention from defunding — the defunding movement, and how can it be combated?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you, Lieutenant Perdue. And will you just join me in thanking him for a great career of service in law enforcement? (Applause.) I’m truly grateful to you.

Recruitment and retention is mission critical. When I was governor of the state of Indiana, I will tell 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 — and that’s why I hope all of you leave here, and anybody that’s looking on, know that whatever you might hear in the poll of public debate 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.

Now, that being said, I think you raise a very important question. I mean, our first — 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 the central feature of the purpose of government.

But beyond that, the other thing that’s wrong with the — 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 — 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. I mean, that –that’s heartbreaking. I mean, 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, 9/11. And yet to see that the mayor talking about a billion-dollar cut, pulling them back in terms of — of allowing — you know, allowing them to go in and to deal with rioters and protesters, 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. 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 overwh- — I don’t even want to say the majority; I want to say almost everybody that wears the uniform in the United States are the best of us, and all of you, gathered here, that applies to.

So your point is so well taken that — and I hope people looking on who are part of this national debate, through Heritage Action, to fight for America will carry this message even more loudly. It compromises our public safety when we don’t give support to law enforcement to 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? (Applause.)

MS. ANDERSON: Thank you. Thank you, sir.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you.

MS. ANDERSON: And thank you for thank you for your service and your question with us here today.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Lieutenant.

MS. ANDERSON: 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. And so —

THE VICE PRESIDENT: How old — how old are your little ones?

MS. ANDERSON: I have a seven-year-old son and a nine-month-old baby girl. So I have my house full. (Applause.) Thank you.

And there’s a — there’s 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. And so I’d like to introduce Jen Fogle. She’s our next testimony today. She is a mother here in Des Moines. Jen, we’re so honored that you could join us. Please meet the Vice President. And —

MS. FOGLE: Thank you. It’s a pleasure to meet you, and —

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Jen.

MS. FOGLE: We’re trying to raise some boys who love God, they’re respectful, and love history in their country. So 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?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, Jen, number one, these are your boys here? This is your family here? They’re great. Stand up. This is — what a beautiful family this is. Wonderful. (Applause.)

Three boys? You have three boys?

MS. FOGLE: Correct.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Okay, I was going to ask because I’m one of four boys, so I respect you even more. (Laughter.)

Thanks for a great question, too.

Well, let me — let me let me address that question by simply saying that we’re going to just continue to — 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 hear — 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, like 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. We’re proud of law enforcement. 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 has never been brighter for this country. I mean, when 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 I — that means a special amount to me because my son is 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 been the world — meant the world to us and made America safer.

But to see an agenda that cut taxes, rolled back regulation, unleashed American energy, supported ethanol in places like Iowa, negotiated the kind of free and fair trade of the USMCA, stood tall on the world stage — you may have heard today for the first time in more than 25 years, a major Arab country formally recognized the State of Israel. The United Arab Emirates today. (Applause.) And it’s because of strong leadership, but it’s also been leadership on values.

You know, 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 that defend those principles.

And so I just — I just want to give you a word of encouragement that — that I truly do believe that if all of us will let our voice be heard in the days ahead, we’re — we’re going to solve the challenges of 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 that we put the coronavirus in the past.

We have — we have a ways to go, and we’re going to continue to spare no expense to make sure that our healthcare workers and all of those that are struggling with the coronavirus have the healthcare that we’d want any one of our family members to have.

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 — I think the American people know that the strength of this nation is derived from our commitment to our national security, to public safety, to a commitment to freedom and free enterprise, and a commitment to the ideals of life and liberties that have always been the wellspring of American greatness.

And I truly do believe with four more years in the White House, with 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. (Applause.) Thank you.

MS. ANDERSON: Thank you, sir. Thank you, Jen.

So, 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 question today.

SERGEANT BUTLER: I’m very humbled to meet you, Mr. Vice President, and I want to thank you —

THE VICE PRESIDENT: It’s my honor.

SERGEANT BUTLER: — and President Trump for all you do for law enforcement across the country.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Sergeant. It’s a privilege.

SERGEANT BUTLER: Thank you. As a law enforcement officer, I’m personally concerned about the future of safety and security in this country. What’s the Trump administration’s plan to reform policing in America?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, first, join me in thanking the sergeant for his career in public service. We’re grateful for you. (Applause.) And I want to say to you, Sergeant, and everybody in this room, I — you have the harder job. I mean, they only shoot at me with words. Okay? And I want you to know your President and your 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 — I don’t know a police officer that I’ve 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 and 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 — what you all call de-escalation efforts.

I mean, we live in an increasingly complex security environment, particularly in our major cities. President Trump recognized that and said that rather than 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. That’s how we’ll improve.

And that’s — as I said, we don’t have to choose between supporting law enforcement and supporting our African American community or any of the families in our cities. That is a — that is a false choice. Te choice America has made the last three and a half years under this President, the choice you’ve made here under Governor Kim Reynolds, and the choice we’re going to make for four more years is we’re going to do both. We’re going to — we’re going to support our African American communities. We’re going to support educational opportunities. We support educational choice. This President supported the largest investment in historically black colleges and universities ever.

You just heard Senator Joni Ernst reflect on my friend Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina. He authored legislation the President helped move through the House and Senate that actually has created more than 8,000 what are called Opportunity Zones in cities across the country that are inviting investment in underserved areas and creating opportunities for people.

And I must tell you, with that foundation I was just talking about, of less taxes, less regulation, more fair trade, 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, it’s continue to support our African American neighbors, all the families in our cities, to make sure that — 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. (Applause.)

MS. ANDERSON: Thank you. Thank you, sir.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Jess.

MS. ANDERSON: 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 — (applause) — I’m asking every single one of you here today to sign this pledge at home, watching on our livestream, 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 51776 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.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Jess.

MS. ANDERSON: God bless you. God bless America.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Jessica, thank you. Join me in thanking Heritage Action and thanking all the incredible law enforcement officers and families who are here. (Applause.) Greatest honor of my life to be your Vice President. God bless you all.

END

4:30 P.M. CDT