THE VICE PRESIDENT: Hi, everybody.
Q Any message for the coal miners in Harlan County?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, first off, it is great to be in Kentucky with, really, I think one of the most successful governors in America. Governor Matt Bevin has seen 50,000 jobs created, and he’s stood strong for the right to life, the values to make Eastern Kentucky strong.
But today, we’ll really celebrate the progress that Kentucky has made in combatting opioid abuse and addiction. I personally want to thank the governor for his strong support of the battle against opioid abuse and addiction. A 15 percent reduction in opioid overdose.
Today we’ll have an announcement for even more federal resources that’ll be flowing to support the governor’s efforts here. But we really see Kentucky as a model state in the battle against opioid abuse and addiction. And, Governor, I want to thank you for that. I want to thank you for your leadership. So, we’ve seen jobs. We’ve seen a governor who has stood up for the right to life, for our values, but he’s also standing strong with families all across Kentucky that have been impacted by the scourge of opioid abuse and addiction.
And I know the President is grateful. I’m grateful. Thank you for your leadership.
GOVERNOR BEVIN: You’re welcome. Thank you very much.
Q There are coal miners in Harlan County that want to hear from the administration. Do you have a message for them?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, our message to coal miners is that we’re with you. Under this administration, the war on coal is over, which is quite a contrast from what we saw on the stage in Detroit last week. One candidate for President after another is trying to move a radical climate change agenda. We actually heard — one of their leading candidates essentially said that they were going to eliminate coal and fossil fuels.
You know, look, coal is an energy resource that not only drives the economy of Eastern Kentucky in this region, but it really drives the economy of America. Low-cost energy is vital to American manufacturing. It’s vital to homeowners and families making ends meet.
And so we’re going to continue to drive forward on an all- of-the-above energy strategy. We’re going to develop — continue to develop our oil and coal and natural gas. It’s amazing to think now — Congressman Rogers and I served together — it’s amazing to think that now America is a net exporter of oil and natural gas. We’re the largest producer of oil and natural gas in the world today.
That available energy that we’ve expanded in this administration is driving the growth that we’re seeing all across Kentucky and all across this country.
But the answer is not what the Democrats are offering this country, which is more of the same radical, liberal agenda that will shut down coal and, even well beyond that, it’s going to shut down growth in this economy.
Q But specifically the miners that haven’t been paid by (inaudible).
GOVERNOR BEVIN: Let me say one thing on that real quickly. I was with these folks just a few nights ago. Two nights before that, I was with the President who specifically told me to tell them that sends his love, that he’s doing everything that can be done at the federal level. There is a process — and you know this — that has to go through the court. There is no magic wand to be waved.
But I will say this: I spent hours with those folks, on those tracks, in Harlan County, and they love this Vice President and they love this President. They were wearing shirts and hats that represented that. They were speaking to that. You go and spend time with these people; they appreciate having an administration that fights for them.
You can send them words, but you can also take action. And this administration is the first one that has ever, in recent generations, truly acted on behalf of that industry. And that is heard and that is appreciated by those folks on those tracks in Harlan County. And I’m telling you personally, for me, they heard it and they’ve seen it, and they wanted me to relay those messages back.
Q So does the President planning on visiting?
GOVERNOR BEVIN: The odds of the President being able to get there are slim. Think about this. You understand that. The nature of how things work with Secret Service and scheduling — probably not great. But he’s certainly there in spirit. He had people like me make sure I communicated that. So, trust me, this President and Vice President understand this like nobody that we’ve ever had.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: American coal knows that President Trump and our entire administration are with them, and we’ll continue to stand with them as we develop all of the energy resources of this country in the days ahead.
Q Vice President, we are, though, in Clay County — or headed there right now — scourged with pills still; scourged with crystal meth. What do you want them to walk away with when you leave today?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, we’re going to talk — we’re going to talk today about an innovative program that our armed forces are partnering with local law enforcement, providing necessary healthcare, including remedies for people that are dealing with drug abuse and addiction.
But today we’ll also be making an announcement that will build on the federal grant support that has come to Eastern Kentucky, thanks to the leadership of Governor Matt Bevin and, frankly, the strong, consistent support of Congressman Hal Rogers.
I have to tell you, we have many challenges that we face at home and abroad, but this administration, from early on, has been focusing on combatting drug abuse and addiction. And Kentucky is leading the way. A 15 percent reduction in opioid overdoses — something every family in Kentucky should be proud of.
But this governor, this President, our administration are committed to build on that momentum, and that’s what today will be all about.
Anybody else? One more.
CONGRESSMAN ROGERS: On are the Harlan miners matter, the administration sent in to the Department of Labor — U.S. Department of Labor — who then filed suit to protect the miners’ rights. So the administration was in the forefront of this fight to help the miners.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Hal.
Q Would you encourage the state legislature to pass a red flag law?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Look, our hearts break for all of those affected in El Paso and Dayton by last weekend’s horrific mass shootings. The President and the First Lady, yesterday, spent time with the injured and the families of victims and law enforcement who, in both communities, did a remarkable job.
But as the President said Monday, we’re going to be working with members of Congress in both political parties to seek new solutions to address this issue in very real ways. We’ve spoken about red flag laws. The state of Indiana has a red flag law. We’re currently examining those proposals.
And, frankly, we’re very grateful for the engagement that we’ve seen by leaders of both political parties, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is already working with us to identify ways that we can make sure that those who commit these mass shootings face justice swiftly, looking to amend the death penalty so that people who engage in these kind of crimes face their punishment not in decades but in years. You know, justice delayed is justice denied. And the President is determined to reform that so that people know that they will face justice if they engage in this violence.
But we’re also looking to support new programs and new ways to support mental health and to make sure that individuals who are a danger to others or themselves do not have access to firearms, which is what the red flag law contemplates.
But all of that is ongoing, and I can tell you it is a real focus for this administration. Even as our hearts break for families in Dayton and in El Paso, we’re already engaging people all across the spectrum, in the Congress and around the country. We will confront this evil in our time.