Lee University
Cleveland, Tennessee

12:41 P.M. EDT

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Well, hello, Tennessee!  (Applause.)  Wow.  It is great to be back in the Volunteer State with men and women who helped elect a President and a Congress that enacted tax cuts that are putting America first.  Thank you all for being here.  (Applause.)

And I before I get started, let me bring greetings from a friend of mine and the leader who made those tax cuts possible.  The man Tennessee voted overwhelmingly to make the 45th President of the United States.  Let me bring greetings from your favorite President, President Donald Trump.  (Applause.)

And I know the President has already been in Tennessee twice since the the first of the year, because in this state — we just love the Volunteer State.  And the President wanted me to be sure — to be sure and give you his very, very best.

And, first and foremost, on his behalf and on my behalf, I came here today to say “thank you.”  Thanks to all of you who are gathered here in these halls.  Thanks to all of our friends in overflow.  Thanks to all the good people of Tennessee and the unwavering support for our President and our agenda, we are making America great again, everybody.  (Applause.)  Thank you very much.

Let me thank a couple other folks too.  I want to thank my great friend Marsha Blackburn for that introduction.  (Applause.)  Marsha Blackburn has been a strong partner with President Trump and our entire administration.  You know, I actually served with Marsha Blackburn in the Congress and I’m here to tell you, I’ve seen firsthand, Marsha Blackburn is a tireless, principled, conservative leader.  And Tennessee is blessed to have her fighting for you yesterday, today, and tomorrow in our nation’s capital.  (Applause.)

And speaking of strong conservative leaders, I’m also grateful to be joined today by someone who I also served with on Capitol Hill who’s been fighting every day for tax cuts and the values that make this nation great.  You just heard from her a moment ago, but join me in thanking Congresswoman Diane Black for her great leadership for Tennessee.  (Applause.)

And I also know — how great was that panel you just heard?  Didn’t they do a great job?  (Applause.)  The President and I are so grateful for the great support of two hometown congressmen from this area, Congressman Scott DesJarlais and Congressman Chuck Fleischmann.  Let’s give them a big round of applause.  They are great conservative leaders.  (Applause.)

And lastly, let me just thank our host today, America First Policies.  It’s an organization that’s creating forums like this all over the country, focusing on the policies that are getting this economy moving again and delivering for the American people.  Join me in thanking America First, will you?  (Applause.)

You know, I don’t know if you noticed, but yesterday marked one-and-a-half years since the day President Trump and I took office.  And I think there’s only one way you can sum up the last 18 months: It’s been a year and a half of action.  It’s been a year and a half of results.  It’s been a year and a half of promises made and promises kept.  (Applause.)  It’s true.

I mean, think about it.  We promised to make America safe again, to enforce our laws, and secure our borders.  And with the help of these members of Congress you just heard from, President Trump signed the largest increase in border security in nearly a decade, and we’ve already started to build that wall on our southern border.  (Applause.)  It’s happening.

AUDIENCE:  Build that wall!  Build that wall!  Build that wall!

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Oh, we’re doing it.  (Laughter.)

We also promised to stand with law enforcement at every level.  And since the first days of this administration — (applause) — this President has been giving law enforcement the resources and the respect that they deserve every day.  (Applause.)  And God bless them all.

And that includes the dedicated public servants of the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement, also known as ICE.  (Applause.)  These are great men and women.  You know, while some leading Democrats across this country are actually calling to abolish this agency, I’m going to make you a promise: Under this administration, we will never abolish ICE.  (Applause.)

I mean, think about it.  I mean, despite all the irresponsible rhetoric by many on the liberal left, here are the numbers.  Last year alone, ICE agents arrested more than 127,000 illegal immigrants with criminal records.  (Applause.)  Got them off the streets.  They removed nearly 5,000 gang members, including members of MS-13 from the streets of America.  (Applause.)  And ICE agents in the last year alone rescued nearly a thousand people from child exploitation and human traffickers.  (Applause.)

The courageous men and women of ICE deserve the support of every American, and they will always have the support of this administration!  (Applause.)

And as the President also promised, when it comes to our federal courts, in the course of that last campaign he said that he would appoint strong conservatives to our federal courts at every level.  And just this week, we set a record for the most conservative court of appeals judges confirmed in the first two years in American history.  (Applause.)  And they’re all conservative judges.  (Applause.)

And that didn’t even include Justice Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court of the United States or the next Supreme Court Justice, Judge Brett Kavanaugh.  (Applause.)

Now, let me say a word about our new nominee for the Supreme Court.  Judge Brett Kavanaugh is a man of integrity.  He has a proven record of support for limited government, our Second Amendment, and religious liberty.  Judge Brett Kavanaugh deserves the support of every member of the United States Senate and should be confirmed to the Supreme Court of the United States.  (Applause.)

Beyond law and order and our courts, this President also promised to make America strong again.  And with the support of these great Tennessee conservatives in Congress, just a few short months ago, President Donald Trump signed the largest increase in our national defense since the days of Ronald Reagan.  (Applause.)

We are once again rebuilding our military, restoring the arsenal of democracy, and we are giving our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guard the resources and the training they need to accomplish their mission and come home safe.  (Applause.)

And let me say for a moment, the American people will never forget the horrific attack that happened three years ago on the Chattanooga Armed Forces recruitment center and Naval Reserve center.  I heard coming in today that the city just broke ground on a memorial to those heroes — the heroes that fell that day.  And I just want to say to all of you here in the Volunteer State, the American people will always remember the Fallen Five and their families.  (Applause.)  We will.

Now, with that renewed American strength at home and abroad, this President has stood without apology as leader of the free world.  Our NATO Allies are paying more for their common defense than ever before.  North Korea is no longer testing ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons.

And thanks to the courage of our armed forces and the determination of their Commander-in-Chief, I’m proud to report that ISIS is on the run, their caliphate has crumbled — (applause) — and we will soon destroy them from the face of the Earth so they can no longer threaten our people, or inspire violence here in the homeland.  (Applause.)

And just this week, the American people witnessed the President return from a successful international trip.  He met with our allies across Europe.  He even met the President of the Russian Federation, saying, in his words, that he “would rather take a political risk in [the] pursuit of peace, than…risk peace in pursuit of politics.”  (Applause.)

And I’ll make you a promise here in Tennessee: President Trump will always be willing to pursue peace.  But in this White House, it will always be peace through strength.  (Applause.)

So it’s about promises made and promises kept.  And we’ve also been working since the first day of this administration to keep the President’s promise to make America prosperous again.  And I’m here to tell you, just in case you haven’t notice —  (laughter) — ever since Election Day 2016, confidence is back, jobs are coming back.  In a word, America is back.  And we’re just getting started.  (Applause.)  It’s true.

And you know, it didn’t just happen.  Right?  I mean, the President has been delivering on the promises that he made to the people of Tennessee and the people of this country.  We promised to roll back the heavy hand of government.  This President has actually signed more laws repealing federal regulations than any President in American history.  (Applause.)  It’s true.

We promised to unleash American energy.  And right out of the gate, we approved the Keystone and Dakota Pipelines.  We rolled back the Clean Power Plan.  And President Trump put America first when he withdrew the United States from the job-killing Paris Climate Accord.  (Applause.)

And President Trump promised to deliver for America’s farmers.  As he said not long ago, from Brussels, he’s always got farmers on his mind.  And I’m pleased to report to all of you that we’re making real progress creating new and better and fairer trade deals all around the world, especially when it comes to our farmers.

We made significant progress renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement.  We’ve opened Argentina to pork, Vietnam to corn and wheat, Brazil to American beef.  And this President made clear when he spoke at American Farm Bureau earlier this year, right here in Tennessee, we will always stand with America’s farmers 100 percent.  (Applause.)

In fact, I’m proud to report to you that next week, on Wednesday, the EU is coming over to talk about lowering some of those barriers to American agricultural goods.  (Applause.)  We’re going to get better deals for what we grow and what we make.

But finally, what brings us here today is the President promised to cut taxes across the board for working families, small businesses, and family farms.  And I was there when it happened just before Christmas, when President Donald Trump kept his promise to the American people when he signed the largest tax cuts and tax reform in American history.  (Applause.)  That’s promises made and promises kept.  It’s true.

Now, let me break it down for you.  Let me break it down for you.  We cut taxes for working families.  We think the typical family of four in this part of Tennessee is going to save about $2,000 every year on your taxes.

We cut taxes for businesses large and small so that businesses here in Tennessee can compete and win against businesses anywhere in the world, and create jobs right here in the Volunteer State.  (Applause.)

And when we cut taxes on working families and businesses, we also cut out the core of Obamacare.  The individual mandate is gone.  It’s off the books.  (Applause.)

And the results of these tax cuts, and all of this agenda I just described to you, have been nothing more than remarkable.  Here in Tennessee, the economy is booming.  Since Election Day 2016, businesses large and small across this country have created 3.7 million new jobs, including more than 85,000 jobs in the Volunteer State, and I just heard over 10,000 jobs in the Cleveland and Chattanooga area alone.  That’s real results.  (Applause.)  Isn’t that something?

And over the last year and a half, Tennessee’s unemployment rate has reached its lowest level ever recorded.  And what the President and I are most proud of, maybe than anything else, is that we’ve — we have now seen the lowest unemployment level ever recorded for African Americans and Hispanic Americans.  (Applause.)  We’ve made history.  And the American Dream is working once again for every American.  (Applause.)  It’s true.

Since the President signed our tax cut into law, that little bit of good news that came along is that more than 6 million Americans have already received bonuses, or pay raises, or bigger benefits even before all the tax cuts have gone into effect.  I was told coming in today, 56,000 workers across Tennessee have already received a pay raise or a bonus following the President’s tax cuts.

The insurance company Unum, which calls this region home, has provided better benefits and increased base wages for their more than 2,500 workers.  McKee Foods, also based in the area, used their tax cut savings to give up to a thousand-dollar bonus to their more than 3,000 workers.  Let’s hear it for these two companies and all the companies that have been out here seizing this moment to improve the lives of working Americans.  (Applause.)

I got to tell you — you know, a thousand dollars in your paycheck that you weren’t expecting, I think that’s pretty good news.  But not everybody agrees.  (Laughter.)  I mean, you might have heard, the woman that wants to be Speaker of the House again, Nancy Pelosi —

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  — and even your former Governor, Phil Bredesen said that a thousand-dollar bonus for working Americans was nothing more than “crumbs.”

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  They both said it.

Now, let me remind all of you: Karen and I come from what I call the Walmart wing of the West Wing at the White House.  (Laughter.)  You with me on that?  (Laughter.)  Okay?  Good.

I mean, we live on a budget.  All right.  The Pences do.  Always have; still do.  I mean, when our kids were growing up, when they were little, we had a term for another thousand dollars in my paycheck at the end of the year that we weren’t expecting: Christmas.  (Laughter and applause.)  Anybody with me on that?

I mean, look, I want to say very seriously: Any leader who says that a thousand dollars in the pockets of working families is nothing more than crumbs is out of touch with the American people and should never lead the Congress, or anything else, ever again.  (Applause.)

I got to tell you, this whole battle over the Congress this fall, it’s sure got my attention.  Because I was actually there the last time liberals ran the Congress.  I mean, I saw them almost run this whole economy into the ground.  If you don’t remember it well — I mean, the last time the Democrats were in charge on Capitol Hill, they weren’t cutting taxes, they were raising taxes.  They weren’t increasing military spending, they were cutting your military.  They tried to pass cap-and-trade, raising the utility cost of every American, and of course, they gave us the nightmare of Obamacare.

They created an economy — the most powerful economy in the history of the world — that didn’t grow by more than 2 percent over the last eight years.  I mean, literally, today, nearly a decade later, Democrats in Washington have even become more liberal.

That’s why I couldn’t be more grateful.  The President and I are both so grateful to have strong conservative representatives in Congress from Tennessee — (applause) — because they stand with us every day.  They do.

Congressman Scott DesJarlais and Congressman Chuck Fleischmann have been strong and unwavering partners with this administration and have been fighting to rebuild our military and get this economy moving again.  (Applause.)  Give them another round of applause.  (Applause.)

And Congresswoman Diane Black has fought tirelessly.  As leader of the Budget Committee, she fought heard to repeal and replace Obamacare, and they passed it out of the House of Representatives.  She was instrumental in passing the largest tax cuts and tax reform in American history.  She actually authored the bills that became the vehicle that made those tax cuts possible.  And we’re truly grateful.  (Applause.)

But, you know, there’s one other thing I want to mention, and that is, you know, people who know me know that I’m pro-life and I don’t apologize for it.  (Applause.)  It was my great honor — it was my great honor to cast the tiebreaking vote in the United States Senate to allow states like Tennessee to defund Planned Parenthood.  (Applause.)  And you all deserve to know that Diane Black wrote that bill.  (Applause.)  She’s a champion for life.  Would you join me in giving Diane Black one more big round of a applause for being such a strong conservative and a champion of tax cuts and life.  (Applause.)  Thank you, Diane.

And then there’s my friend, Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn.  As the President said so well last time he was here, Marsha “has always been there when we…needed her.”  And she “loves and works hard for the people of Tennessee.”

You know, a few years back, Marsha Blackburn was actually recognized as the most conservative woman in the United States Congress.  (Applause.)  Fun fact.

And having served with her, shoulder-to-shoulder on Capitol Hill, I can tell you, she’s a leader that commands respect across Capitol Hill.  She was a strong supporter of the President’s tax cuts.  In fact, Marsha Blackburn has been fighting for low taxes for decades.  I actually learned years ago, Marsha Blackburn, is the reason Tennessee doesn’t have an income tax at all.  (Applause.)

And I can tell you, Marsha Blackburn has been a champion for the men and women of our military.  Supporting a strong national defense and the traditional values that make this country great.  Would you all join me in showing Tennessee appreciation for Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn for her leadership yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  (Applause.)  Thank you, Marsha.

The truth is, we’ve accomplished what we’ve all together been able to accomplish because of the leadership of our President and because of the support of these strong conservative principled partners on Capitol Hill.  And they all deserve your gratitude.  I can tell you that firsthand.

So as I close, I just want to say thank-you for coming out.  Thank you to all of you gathered here in the hall.  And I stopped by the overflow to see the folks in those two rooms.  And it’s very humbling for me to be here.

I have to tell you, for this small-town boy from southern Indiana, it’s the greatest honor of my life to serve as your Vice President, and I want to thank you for that honor.  (Applause.)  Thank you.

AUDIENCE:  USA!  USA!  USA!

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  But I want to — I hope you’ll leave here today — and I’m going to take minute to see as many of you as I can — I hope you leave here today with a little bit of a burden on your heart.  You’ve heard firsthand from some great leaders in the Congress of the United States.  And I’ve tried to share with you what we have been able to accomplish.

You know, it’s — one of the things the President often says when people stop him and thank him for what he’s done for the country, he always says, it’s what “we’ve done” for the country — this movement that is making America strong and prosperous again.

So I want to challenge you, after you leave here today, to let your voice be heard in the days ahead.  Exercise all of your rights as citizens in this critical year of 2018.  And go tell the story.  Tell the story of what you’ve heard here today to your family, your friends, and your neighbors.  Tell them what this President has done.  Tell them what these great leaders in the Congress have done in working with this President to turn this country around.

You know, I’ll always believe all the talking heads on TV in the world, all the television shows, all the mail, and political advertising is not to be compared to when someone who knows you and respects you and has history with you hears from you about what’s important for Tennessee and what’s important for America.

So I want to encourage you to just get out there and talk about what you heard today.  Say, “I was over at Lee University, I ran into Mike” — (laughter) — “and he was like — he didn’t even list everything when he got done.”  Like, I didn’t even mention it, but I saw that flag back there.  How about a President who recognized Jerusalem as the capital of the state of Israel and moved our embassy there?  (Applause.)  Thank you.

I mean, just tell them, “Mike didn’t even get to everything.”  Just stop people outside a grocery store, or outside your work, your worship, over a backyard fence.  Just — I think that’s where the real difference is made.

I mean, tell your friends and your neighbors after you leave here today what they’re not hearing on most of their major cable television news networks every day.

I mean, here you go.  I’ll give you a list.  Tell them we cut their taxes.  All right?  So they can keep more of what they earn.  (Applause.)  All right?  I mean, tell them we’re restoring American strength at home and abroad.  We’re supporting our military and our law enforcement to protect their families and their freedom.  (Applause.)  Go tell them.  Tell them it’s happened.

I mean, go tell them we’re putting Washington, D.C. back to work for them, not the other way around.  And tell them that under President Donald Trump the forgotten men and women of America are forgotten no more.  You get out there Tennessee and you tell them.  (Applause.)  You tell the story.

AUDIENCE:  Trump!  Trump!  Trump!

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  And after you get out and do all that you can do to reach out to your neighbors and friends and family in the days ahead, there’s one more thing I might encourage you to do if you’re so inclined.

That in these too divided times in these United States, it seems like every issue seems to be divided almost immediately along patrician lines.  I think of the widening and unknowable threats on the world stage.  I think of the challenges and opportunities we have here at home.

So, if you’re of a mind, I think it’s a good time to bow the head, and bend the knee, and pray for America.  (Applause.)  And pray for all who serve.  I can tell you the sweetest words the President and I ever hear — and we hear them a lot — when people will grab a hand and say, “I’m praying for you.”

But on this one, I want to encourage you, think a little bit like our 16th President thought.  President Abraham Lincoln — in a much more challenging time than we could possibly imagine in the life of our nation — he was asked once if he thought that God was on his side.  President Lincoln said, I’d rather concern myself more with whether we’re on God’s side than whether God is on our side.  (Applause.)

So pray for America.  Pray for all of the American people.  Because I’ll always believe — I’ll always believe, however many turns around the Sun I get, that those ancient words that Americans have clung to throughout our history in much more challenging times are still as true today as they ever were:  That if His people, who are called by His name, will humble themselves and pray, He’ll do like He’s always done through the long and storied history of America.  He’ll hear from heaven, and He’ll heal this land, this one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty, and justice for all.  (Applause.)

So thank you.  Thank you for coming out today.  I’m very humbled by a wonderful turnout like this on a Saturday afternoon.

I leave here with renewed confidence.  With the continued strong support of the people of Tennessee, with your continued support of your great conservative leaders in the Congress of the United States, with President Donald Trump in the White House, and with God’s help, I know we will make America prosperous again.  We will make America safe again.  And to borrow a phrase, we will make America great again.  (Applause.)

Thank you very much, Tennessee.  God bless you.  And God bless the United States of America.

END

1:14 P.M. EDT