Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill
7:00 P.M. EDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you for that wonderful, warm welcome. And thank you to my friend Frank Donatelli for that overly generous introduction.
Frank knows me well enough to know the introduction I prefer is just a little bit shorter. I’m a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican — in that order. (Applause.)
And I’s a great honor to be here tonight to address the rising generation of conservative leaders, the men and women of Young America’s Foundation, here at the 39th National Conservative Student Conference. Give yourselves a round of applause. You’re going to be making a difference in America for a long time. (Applause.)
So welcome back to Washington, D.C. Before I get started, I bring greetings this evening from a friend of mine, a man who’s fighting every day for common-sense, conservative values — from the very heart of the White House in the Oval Office, I bring greetings from the 45th President of the United States of America — President Donald Trump. (Applause.)
Thanks to the support of so many young conservatives like all of you here today all across this country, last November President Trump won a historic victory. More counties than any President since Ronald Reagan — 30 of 50 states, states no Republican had carried in a generation. The truth is with your support, President Donald Trump turned the blue wall red. (Applause.)
And I came here tonight just to pay a debt of gratitude to all of you who helped elect a President who is fighting every day, fighting every day for the values and the ideals that unite us, and fighting every day to keep the promises that he made to the American people.
And for my part, it’s a privilege to be back at the Young America’s Foundation. I’ve worked hand-in-hand with YAF going back more than 15 years — not from when that picture was taken. (Laughter.) But from when I first arrived in Congress in 2001. In 2005, my family had the great privilege to visit the Reagan Ranch, where YAF has wonderfully preserved the wisdom and legacy of my second favorite President of the United States, President Ronald Reagan. (Applause.)
I have to tell you as I ran into Ron and Frank backstage, thinking of all the years that we’ve stood together and all the encouragement they’ve been to me as a conservative, I just can’t tell you how genuinely humbling it is for me to think that I’m standing before you today because of their encouragement, and support and because of folks like you all over this country, and because of the confidence and generosity of our new President that I stand before you today as the 48th Vice President of the United States of America. So on behalf of my family, thank you for the opportunity to serve. (Applause.)
It’s remarkable to think about the Young America’s Foundation’s history and contributions not just to my small life but to the conservative movement itself and to this entire country.
Since its founding in 1960, YAF has been a bulwark of American greatness. You fight for the truths of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. You fight for those timeless principles of “individual freedom, a strong national defense, free enterprise, and traditional moral values”. And let there be no doubt because of the work of all of you all across this country, conservative values are winning on campuses and winning the hearts and minds of America one student at a time. (Applause.)
Today, YAF has more than 300 chapters that are active on over 2,000 campuses all across the United States, reaching a stunning 400,000 students every year.
You run so many noteworthy projects and programs, but I’d especially like to thank you particularly for your heroic work promoting and standing for freedom of expression and the free exchange of ideas on the campuses across this country. (Applause.)
As I said in an address I gave at the University of Notre Dame just a few months ago, we live in a time when free speech and civility are waning on campuses across America, but YAF is committed to change that. And you’re making a great difference.
You’ve speaking out against speech codes, safe spaces, political correctness. You fight to defend conservative speakers and students who want nothing more than to exercise their First Amendment right to the freedom of speech.
And so tonight, I just want to say thank you. Thank you to the young men and women of Young America’s Foundation for your strong stand for our freedoms, and thank you for all that you do, day-in and day-out to bring the conservative message to the public square. (Applause.)
And I can promise you as you labor, I see it every day, the Young America’s Foundation finally has a friend back in the Oval Office in the White House. (Applause.)
President Donald Trump has been fighting every day for the conservative vision, the conservative values that you and I hold dear.
President Trump has given voice I believe to the aspirations and frustrations of the American people like no leader since President Ronald Reagan.
And our President has gone right to work putting men and women into a Cabinet and into this administration that have been advancing that agenda with consistency and with courage.
I got to tell you I think President Donald Trump has assembled the strongest conservative Cabinet in my lifetime — bar none. (Applause.) Think about it. How about Ambassador Nikki Haley to the United Nations? (Applause.) How about Dr. Ben Carson at Housing and Urban Development? (Applause.) In fact, I know you’re going to hear from Dr. Carson tonight, and he’s just an incredible member of this Cabinet — right along with others like Secretary of Defense Jim “Mad Dog” Mattis. (Applause.)
You go around that table and people like Betsy DeVos and others, truly it speaks volumes about this President’s commitment to surrounding himself with extraordinary men and women as a part of this administration’s team, and I couldn’t be more proud to be a small part of it.
So as I stand before you today, I’m deeply humbled to be able to report to you that not just in assembling this team, but since day one of this administration, this President has been putting conservative principles into practice to strengthen America at home and abroad so that your generation can live in a country that is prosperous, safe, and free and is built on the highest ideals of the American experience. (Applause.)
Just look at what our President has done to get the American economy moving again already. President Trump I’m pleased to report has actually signed more laws cutting through federal red tape than any President in American history. (Applause.) This President has been unleashing American energy after years of frustration by a liberal administration like when he authorized the construction of the Keystone and Dakota pipelines. (Applause.) And begun to roll back the Clean Power Plan. The truth is under President Donald Trump, the war on coal is over. (Applause.)
And this President has been putting America first, like when he announced that the United States of America officially today notified the United Nations that we are withdrawing from the Paris climate accord. (Applause.)
In a word, President Trump been keeping his promise to make America prosperous again. Just this morning, the news came in — did you hear about it? Over 1 million new jobs have been created across this country by businesses large and small since President Donald Trump took office. More Americans working than ever before, and unemployment hasn’t been this low in 16 years. And as the President tweeted this morning, we “have only just begun”! (Applause.)
But as important as our prosperity is, this President knows that security is the foundation of our prosperity. And serving with him every day, I can assure you, President Trump has no higher priority than the safety and security of the American people.
Our President has travelled across the wider world, reaffirming our historic alliances, challenging all who cherish freedom to step up and confront the forces that threaten our way of life. President Trump I’m pleased to report — once again, we have a President who stands without apology on the world stage as leader of the free world. (Applause.)
And I have to tell you more personal to me, as the proud father of a United States Marine, I couldn’t be more grateful to serve as Vice President to a President who cares so deeply about the men and women of the Armed Forces of the United States, their families, and our veterans. (Applause.)
The United States of America simply has the finest armed forces in the history of the world. The men and women who wear the uniform of this country are the best of your generation, and I’m inspired whenever I’m among them. Today, at Dover Air Force Base two heroes of this generation came home. Sergeant Jonathon Hunter and Specialist Christopher Harris of the 82nd Airborne. These two heroes fell defending our freedom in Afghanistan this week. We honor their service and their sacrifice. Their names will be enshrined in the hearts of a grateful nation, and their families and their loved ones will remain our prayers. For no greater love has a man than this, that he should lay down his life for his friends. These two men were heroes. We honor them tonight by standing with all those who at this very hour stand a far distant post on the ramparts of freedom. God bless them all. (Applause.)
And we honor them through our tributes, but we also honor them through our actions. And I’ll make you a promise: President Donald Trump is going to be the best friend the Armed Forces of the United States will have ever had in the White House. (Applause.)
You think about it, our President has already signed the largest increase in military spending in nearly 10 years. And he’s called on the Congress to pass one of the biggest investments in our defense spending since the days of the Cold War.
And under President Donald Trump, I’ll make you a promise: We’re going to rebuild our military, we’re going to restore the arsenal of democracy, and we are once again going to give our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guard the resources and training they need to accomplish their mission and come home safe. (Applause.)
With the leadership of this Commander-in-Chief, I’m proud to report our armed forces are taking the fight to our enemy on our terms, on their soil. And with President Donald Trump and our brave warriors in the field in Iraq and in Syrian, we will not rest, we will not relent until we hunt down and destroy ISIS at its source, so it can no longer threaten our homeland or threaten our allies around the world. (Applause.)
And when it comes to security at home, our President has been busy as well — securing our borders, enforcing our laws, removing dangerous criminal illegal aliens from our streets, gang members, drug dealers, and violent criminal gangs like MS-13. And I’m pleased to report under President Donald Trump’s leadership and the efforts of our Homeland Security, illegal immigrant crossings on our southern border are down more than 60 percent since the first day of 2017. (Applause.)
So President Trump is keeping his promise to make America safe again, and I couldn’t be more grateful to serve with him.
But frankly, let me say from my heart how meaningful it is to me to serve with a President who stands without apology for the sanctity of life. (Applause.)
In one of his very first acts in office, President Trump reinstated the Mexico City Policy to keep taxpayer funding out of organizations that perform and promote abortions abroad, and our President has expanded that policy to cover nearly $9 billion in foreign aid. (Applause.)
And President Trump has empowered states to withhold federal funding from abortion providers like Planned Parenthood, and I’m humbled to say that at the President’s direction, I was able to cast the tie-breaking vote in Senate to allow states to defund Planned Parenthood. (Applause.)
So this President has been standing for the God-given liberties enshrined in our Constitution. And he’s been making sure that his appointments to courts of this land will adhere to the Constitution as it’s written, to strictly construe the Constitution. The men and women that we’re putting forward to fill our federal benches are going to be people that uphold our highest traditions, like the newest member of Supreme Court of the United States — Justice Neil Gorsuch. (Applause.)
So it’s about jobs and prosperity. It’s about security at home and abroad. It’s our fundamental liberties, and it’s strengthening America each and every day. President Trump has done all that and more, and it’s been only a little more than six months.
But as the President likes to say, at this White House, that’s just what we call a good start. (Applause.)
The truth is we got a lot more work to do. My fellow conservatives, let me assure you: Job one for this administration going forward is we’re going to fight every day to keep the promise we made, and we’re going to repeal and replace Obamacare. (Applause.)
Last week, it was clear that the Senate wasn’t quite ready to keep that promise to the American people, when they fell one vote short of moving forward on a bill to repeal and replace this disastrous policy.
The truth is every day Obamacare survives is another day the American people struggle. When Obamacare passed, we heard a lot of promises. You remember? We heard if you like your doctor, you can keep it — not true. We heard if you like your health insurance, can you keep it — not true. We heard that the cost of health insurance was going to go down. That one sure wasn’t true. In fact, we were promised that families would save up to $2,500 in health insurance premiums if this thing became law about seven years ago. And the truth is the average Obamacare plan today costs nearly $3,000 more than a plan did in 2013.
And while premiums are soaring, choices are plummeting. Next year, at least 40 percent of American counties, including nine whole states, will have only one choice of a health insurance provider, meaning they’ll essentially have no choice at all.
Even worse, many counties will have no health insurance providers whatsoever in 2018 all across this country. And it’s not just about the statistics. It’s about real people. It’s about small business owners, family farmers all across this country that are struggling to make ends meet.
Behind every number is a name, behind every name is a story. And I’ve heard these stories as I’ve traveled across America, and so has the President. Small businesses that talk about the heartache of struggling to keep their whole workforce in place, people that have worked for them for years and years. But with skyrocketing costs of health insurance, they got to choose between keeping the business going and keeping people on the payroll that they’ve known for years and years.
I’ve talked to working families — literally a woman in Wisconsin told me that she had to take a pass on paying her health insurance premium for three months just so she’d have enough money to buy Christmas presents for her grandkids.
We all know the truth, America knows the truth: Obamacare has failed and Obamacare must go. (Applause.)
Now, the President and I were disappointed when the Senate came up short in finishing what the House of Representatives had started. In fact, the President said, every single one of those Democrats in the Senate and just a couple — handful of Republicans in his words “let the American people down”. And that’s the truth of it.
But my fellow conservatives, let me be clear: This ain’t over, this ain’t by a long shot. (Applause.)
And President Trump — are absolutely committed to keep our promise to the American people. We were not elected to save Obamacare; we were elected to repeal and replace it. And you can know with confidence that President Donald Trump and I are going to fight every day until we end the Obamacare nightmare once and for all. (Applause.)
And when that day comes — and rest assured, it will come — we will begin to restore a healthcare system based on those timeless American principles of personal responsibility, free-market competition, and state-based reform. That’s the conservative way to meet the needs of this country in the 21st century when it comes to healthcare, and that is the American way to improve 21st century healthcare for this generation and the next. (Applause.)
And while we’re working with this Congress to act on healthcare, I’ll make you another promise: President Donald Trump and I are going to roll our sleeves up, sit down with lawmakers, and we’re going to pass the largest tax cut since the days of Ronald Reagan. (Applause.) We’re going to cut taxes across the board for working families, small businesses, and family farms.
And President Trump is going cut business taxes in America so American companies can compete with companies around the world to create good-paying jobs right here in gold old USA. (Applause.)
So it’s about healthcare. It’s about tax cuts. And under this President’s leadership, and with the support of this Congress, we’re going to keep rolling forward. We’ll make those historic investments in national defense to make America stronger and safer than ever before.
We’ll keep reining in those unelected bureaucrats so they can’t cripple our economy from the comfort of those taxpayer-funded metal desks.
We’ll enact real education reform to give families more choices and make it possible for every child to be able to go to the school of their choice and have access to the world-class education every child deserves. It’s a lot of work to do.
But I know I’m looking at a lot of young people that are anxious to get to it. So to this rising generation of conservative leaders, I’ll tell you — you picked a great time to show up. (Applause.) Because this the moment, now is the time.
To finish what we’ve started, though, the President and I are counting on all of you. We’re counting on this rising generation. We need your voices. We need your values. We need your energy and your vision as never before.
As this rising generation of American leaders, you know that your future, the future of this country depends on what we do in the days ahead. No one has more stake in it than you.
It was President Reagan who memorably said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction,” and this rings just as true today as it did a half century ago when he said it.
So I came here to night really to encourage you to keep standing up. Keep speaking out. Let your voices heard. With your peers and your colleagues, go out there and keep advocating without apology and with cheerfulness the common-sense conservative message that this country longs to hear.
And from this day forward, the President and I are going to have to count on every ounce of your energy. Your enthusiasm, your courage, your conviction, and your passion. And I know we’ll have it.
But there’s one more thing I might ask of you if you’re so inclined. This is a very challenging time in the life of our nation — widening and unknowable threats around the world, too much division here at home, an economy that’s now beginning to get on its feet after years of struggling under the weight of big government. And I would just say as you leave here from this great conference energized, hearing all these speakers that you heard this week, you go back to your homes and go back to your schools renewed in your determination to make a difference for conservative values, I’d encourage you if you’re inclined to bow the head and bend the knee, it would be a good time to do that, too.
The truth is it’s a good time to pray for America because America matters far beyond our shores.
And when I tell you to pray for America, I’m not so much talking about an agenda or a party, but really just pray for this country. Abraham Lincoln I thought had it pretty right. He was asked in his time if he thought God was on his side, and he said, I’d rather concern myself more with whether we’re on God’s side than whether God is our side.
So just pray for this country. Pray for all who serve her in every capacity because I truly do believe those ancient words of millennia ago are as true today as they’ve ever been, words that Americans have clung to in much more challenging times than these, that if His people who are called by His name will humble themselves and pray, he’ll hear from Heaven, and he’ll heal this land, this one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: USA! USA! USA!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: So in a word, men and women of the Young America’s Foundation, have faith. Have faith in the principles that you hold in your hearts that brought you to this place today. Have faith in each other, and in your fellow conservatives, the ability to make a difference as conservatives have ever since this movement was born. Have faith in this President, who I promise you and the whole team is fighting for you every. And above all else, have a boundless faith in the American people, and in Him who placed this miracle of democracy on this wilderness shores, that He will still do as He’s always done, He will bless America.
And so I say to this rising generation, with your support, with the leadership that we have in President Donald Trump and in our majorities in the House and Senate and all across this land, and with all of your shining faces, I’m confident, together, we will make America safe again. Together, we will make America prosperous again. And together, to borrow a phrase, we will Make America Great Again.
Thank you very much. God bless the Young America’s Foundation and God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)
7:28 P.M. EDT