Remarks by the Vice President to the Faith and Freedom Coalition
Omni Shoreham Hotel
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you for that wonderful warm welcome. Thank you to my friend Ralph. All the distinguished guests who are here, members of Congress, our honorees, it is great to be back at the Faith and Freedom Coalition, the greatest pro-family, pro-freedom grassroots organization in the United States of America. (Applause.)
And I am very honored to have the opportunity to help wrap up what I hear has been a great, great week in Washington, D.C. and be able to speak at this 2017 Road to Majority Policy Conference.
You know, normally it’s my job to bring greetings from my boss, but I know you already heard from him on Thursday. (Applause.)
And let me tell you, what you saw two days ago is what I see every single day: a leader with broad shoulders and a big heart, a believer, and an unapologetic champion of the God-given liberties enshrined in the Constitution of the United States, the 45th President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump. (Applause.)
Thanks to the support of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, 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. President Donald Trump turned the blue wall red, and we thank you for the support that made that possible. (Applause.)
As the Good Book says: If you owe debts, pay debts. If honor, then honor. If respect, then respect.
And I’m really here just to pay a debt of gratitude to all of you who helped elect a President who is fighting every day to restore freedom in the country and to make this country great and strong once again.
The President said it on Thursday, but it’s worth repeating -- the Faith and Freedom Coalition knocked on 1.2 million doors, made 10 million phone calls, sent out 22 million pieces of mail, distributed 30 million voter guides, and most importantly you elected one President who will never stop fighting for the values and ideals that make this nation great. (Applause.)
And as we look out across this room, we see more friends than we can count; people that I’ve known for years; people I’ve stood together with in my days in the Congress, my days as a governor. We’ve fought the good fight in this movement together. And so before I go on let me just take a moment to say how humbling it is for me to stand before my friends of so many years as the 48th Vice President of the United States of America. Thank you, thank you for giving my little family the opportunity to serve. (Applause.)
And speaking of my family, on Thursday night, we celebrated the 32nd anniversary of my marriage to the most wonderful woman in the world. (Applause.) Faith and grace and immense patience. Would you all welcome my wonderful wife, Karen Pence, the Second Lady of the United States of America? (Applause.)
It really is remarkable to think about everything the Faith and Freedom Coalition has achieved since your founding in 2009. In just eight years you’ve built chapters in all 50 states, brought together more than 1.7 million members and grassroots activists.
And there’s a lot of reason for your success. Because while this group may be young, the values you stand for are timeless.
But let me express a special thanks to a man who made tonight possible, a leader I’ve known for many years who literally has devoted his life to defending his extraordinary talents and his entire life to defending faith and freedom in America, ladies and gentlemen, would you just give a rousing round of appreciative applause to Ralph Reed. (Applause.)
This whole room is filled with patrons and patriots, all people -- each of one of you that has made an extraordinary difference in the life of this country, and I know you’ll continue. But it’s a particular joy for me tonight to be a part of a celebration of someone who deserves that description more than maybe anyone else I’ve ever met in this movement, the recipient of the Winston Churchill Lifetime Achievement Award, my mentor and my friend, Dr. James Dobson. (Applause.)
I have long held the view that I don’t think less of people who think more highly of me than I think of myself. (Laughter.) And throughout my public career, as he’s been in the lives of so many men and women in public life, and in ministry, and in business, Dr. James Dobson has been a source of counsel and encouragement to me and my family all along the way.
Dr. Dobson, the truth is this award doesn’t actually do you justice. You’ve done more for faith and freedom in your lifetime than, as Ralph just said, any one person could do in 10 lifetimes. Although I do think that it’s probably mostly due to the fact that you married way up. (Laughter.) Would you all give Shirley Dobson another big round of applause? She is an amazing woman, and amazing lady. (Applause.)
From the heart I have to tell you, Dr. Dobson, your faith, your matchless voice on the airwaves, the enormous body of written work that you've created in a lifetime has inspired millions. And not only is your country grateful, but I say with confidence: Great is your reward. You’ve made an eternal difference in the lives of millions. (Applause.)
Ladies and gentlemen, one more time for Dr. James Dobson. Would you mind?
This truly is a gathering of consequence, of conviction, and courage. Let me echo what the President said to you just two days ago. He acknowledged that all of “you fought hard” -- and you fought hard for him and now rest assured, I see it every day, he is “fighting hard for all of you.” (Applause.)
Even before he took his oath of office, President Trump has been keeping his promise to the men and women gathered here and all those you represent across this country.
For starters, our President I believe has assembled one of the strongest conservative Cabinets in the history of the United States of America. (Applause.)
How about – U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley? (Applause.) How about Secretary of Defense Jim “Mad Dog” Mattis? (Applause.) And how about the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Dr. Ben Carson? (Applause.)
That's the A-Team. And since day one, this President has taken decisive action to make this country great again.
President Trump told you on Thursday and I can tell you it’s true that he will in his words “battle for every American who has lost a job, for every family who has lost a loved one, for every American of faith who has lost their rights and lost their freedom.” That's exactly what he’s done.
Our President has been busy since the first day of this administration, rolling back big government, slashing through red tape. In fact, this President has signed more bills into law rolling back federal regulations and red tape than any President in American history. (Applause.)
He’s unleashing American energy and unburdening American businesses. He’s putting America back to work, and he’s fighting every day to put America First, which was on full display just last week, when President Donald Trump pulled the United States of America out of the Paris climate accord. (Applause.)
It’s amazing to think that international deal the last administration entered into would have cost 6.5 million jobs in this country in the next 25 years, imposed incredible burdens on the American people while at the same time allowing countries like China and India to get off virtually scot-free. In his decision, the President put American workers first. He put America’s future first. And I promise you that President Donald Trump will always put America First! (Applause.)
This President also knows that security is the foundation of our prosperity. That's why President Trump has been standing without apology for the men and women of law enforcement and those who protect our borders. (Applause.)
He’s rebuilding our military and restoring America’s place in the world. He’s been standing with our allies and standing up to our enemies. And if the world knows nothing else, the world will know this, under President Donald Trump, America stands with Israel. (Applause.)
And this President has been keeping faith with the Constitution of the United States and the God-given liberties enshrined there.
Just last month, I had the great privilege to stand beside President Trump as he signed an executive order to help strengthen and restore that most fundamental right from the First Amendment of the Constitution, the freedom of religion. (Applause.)
Speaking from the Rose Garden, President Trump declared in his words that the “federal government will never, ever penalize any person for their protected religious beliefs.” (Applause.) And he directed our Department of Justice to ensure the freedom of religion of every American is protected.
And our President began to ensure that the pulpits of America would be free, as well, to start the process to roll back the Johnson Amendment because free speech shouldn’t stop at the doors of our churches, synagogues, and places of worship. (Applause.)
Just rest assured, President Trump is going to continue to fight to ensure that every American has the freedom to follow the dictates of their conscience, and to add their voices and their values to the beautiful tapestry of our American life.
And this President has also stood strongly on the world stage with those who are persecuted for faith around the globe.
Under President Donald Trump, America has made it clear: This nation condemns persecution of any faith in any place at any time, and we will confront it with all of our abilities in the world. (Applause.)
Protecting and promoting religious freedom is a foreign policy priority of this administration. And President Trump will fight every day for this fundamental right, at home and abroad.
You know, it’s the greatest privilege of my life to serve as Vice President, as well, to a President who is so committed to protecting our most cherished freedoms. But honestly, I couldn’t be more proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with a President who stands without apology for the sanctity of human life. (Applause.)
And it’s not just been words, it’s been deeds. In one of the very first acts in office, President Trump reinstated the Mexico City Policy banning public funding of abortion providers abroad, and last month our President expanded that policy to cover nearly $9 billion in American foreign aid. (Applause.)
And it was my great honor with my wife at my side to have the President personally send me to be the first Vice President ever to speak at the annual March for Life. (Applause.)
He signed also into law legislation that will empower states to withhold federal funding from abortion providers, and I’m humbled to say that at the President’s direction, I had the opportunity to cast the tie-breaking vote in the United States Senate. (Applause.)
And when President Donald Trump signs the bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, we will defund Planned Parenthood once and for all. (Applause.)
And when it comes to those God-given liberties, there’s one more thing this President has done. As a candidate for President, this President made a commitment to appoint strong conservatives to our federal courts and to the highest court in the land. He made a pledge, particularly when it came to Supreme Court, that he would nominate a jurist in the mold of the late and great Justice Antonin Scalia. And he did just that when he nominated and we confirmed Justice Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court on the United States of America. (Applause.)
So we’ve been busy, folks. But as the President likes to say, that’s just what we call a good start. (Laughter.) Truth is, we got a lot of work to do, make no mistake about it. Before this summer, job one is we’re going to work with this Congress -- the men and women in Republican majorities -- and we will repeal and replace Obamacare. (Applause.)
I bet I don’t have to tell the Faith and Freedom Coalition members and supporters why this failed law has got to go. Just last month, our administration released a new study proving that Obamacare has made health insurance unaffordable for millions of Americans. In just four years -- get this -- Obamacare as more than doubled the average health insurance premiums on the individual markets. In some states, they’re up nearly 200 percent.
President Obama promised that Americans would save up to $2,500 on their premiums, but the average premium cost today is nearly $3,000 a year more for Americans than it was in 2013. And it’s only going to get worse because premiums are spiking by double digits next year and the choices are plummeting. Obamacare is in a death spiral and more and more insurance companies are bailing on this failed law every single day.
States across America lost 83 insurers in 2017 alone. In fact, at this very moment, a third of American counties and five whole states only have one choice of insurance company under Obamacare, meaning they essentially have no choice. And come next year, tens of thousands of Americans or more won’t have any insurance coverage at all.
Just this week, more than 13,000 people in Ohio learned that they’ll have no Obamacare coverage next year. In Missouri, 25 counties may be without Obamacare plans. And in Iowa, where I was just about a week ago, it looks like, very soon, 94 of the 99 counties could have no Obamacare to choose from, leaving tens of thousands of working families, small businesses, and family farmers without access to healthcare coverage they need.
And folks, remember, it’s not just the statistics. We’re talking about real people in the midst of a real healthcare crisis. Good people, like Julie Champine, who I met with today in Wisconsin. I had the privilege to chat with her on my visit to Milwaukee. Julie’s been buying health insurance for her family on the individual market since 2004. She’s really a great lady to talk to -- great family, has worked hard in business, she and her husband together.
But Julie confided in me, she has some health issues. And health insurance is vitally important to her. Now Julie said she wanted to believe that when President Obama promised her that she could keep her plan, she could keep her doctor that it was true. But it just wasn’t. Julie lost her family’s health plan. She told me she lost her doctor. And ever since Julie’s been forced to buy health insurance on the Obamacare exchange, and the simple truth is, as she told me today with emotion in her voice, she just -- she can’t afford it.
In 2016 alone, Julie’s Obamacare plan cost more than $9,000 in premiums with a deductible of $13,000. Late last year, she found out her premiums were going to go up by another $2,600 this year. Folks, Julie’s Obamacare plan cost more than her mortgage and she can’t even afford to use it. In fact, because of Obamacare, Julie told me that she actually chose, last Christmas, to stop paying for health insurance for three months just so she could afford Christmas presents for her kids and grandkids.
Folks, that’s just plain wrong. No American should ever have to choose between paying for their health insurance and providing for their families. It’s heartbreaking. (Applause.) She basically said, under Obamacare, we have no hope. But I looked her in the eye, put my hand on her shoulder, and I said, Julie, help is on the way. (Applause.)
You know, the truth is, Julie is the face of Obamacare’s failures but she is the face of tens of millions of Americans who are living proof that Obamacare is collapsing and taking the American people down with it. You know, you’d have to be blinded by partisanship to believe otherwise. And unfortunately, there’s a lot of people who are blinded by partisanship. And you can find all of them in the Democrat minority in the House and Senate here in Washington, D.C. (Applause.)
I mean, look, they’re the ones who gave us Obamacare, and now they won’t lift a finger to help us rescue the American people from the mess they made. That’s why we need this road to majority -- to keep the pressure on the Congress and help President Trump and Congress finish what we started. And I promise you, President Trump will not rest, will not relent until we rescue the American people from the disaster of Obamacare and give our country the world-class healthcare the American people deserve. (Applause.) That’s a promise.
And after we repeal and replace Obamacare, we’re going to keep right on going. We’re going to roll our sleeves up working with this Congress. Before the end of this year, we’re going to pass the biggest 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. This President is going to make the American tax code simpler, flatter, and fairer for everyone.
You know, there’s an old joke about the tax code. They say it’s 10 times the size of the Bible with none of the good news. (Laughter and applause.) Well, here’s some real good news: We’re going to put more money in taxpayers’ pockets and give American families and American business the relief they need to grow. (Applause.)
And we’re not going to stop there. Under the President’s leadership, we’re going to continue to rein in wasteful government spending, restore fiscal responsibility to Washington, D.C., and with Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education, we’re going to expand educational choices so every child in America has access to a world-class education regardless of their income, regardless of their area code. (Applause.)
Most important of all, this President will continue to stand up for and stand with the brave men and women who protect our freedom and our way of life every day. (Applause.)
Now, Karen and I are the proud parents of a lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps. (Applause.) And as a parents of a member of our armed forces, I tell you what, I couldn’t be more proud to serve with a President who is so committed to the men and women of the Armed Forces of the United States of America. President Trump is the best friend the Armed Forces of the United States will ever have. (Applause.)
You know, today, we received a heartbreaking reminder of the risks that our service men and women face in the defense of freedom. As I traveled to Wisconsin this afternoon, I was informed that three American soldiers were killed and one wounded in a terrible attack in Afghanistan. The Bible tells us that “no greater love has a man than this, than he should lay down his life for his friends.”
Let me say from the heart, when heroes fall, Americans grieve. And tonight, our thoughts and prayers are with the families of these American heroes. We honor their service, their sacrifice, and we always will. (Applause.)
We honor them by remembering, but we also honor them by ensuring that those that they left behind in uniform have the resources and training to accomplish their mission. And I want to promise you, President Donald Trump will not rest and will not relent until we rebuild our military, restore the arsenal of democracy, and once again give our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guard the resources and the training they need to accomplish their mission and come home safe. (Applause.)
The supplemental budget that Congress just put on the President’s desk had the largest increase in military spending in the last 10 years. And the budget that the President submitted to the Congress for next year has the largest increase in defense spending since the administration of President Ronald Reagan. We’re going to rebuild our military. (Applause.)
And with that strong support, I would report to you our armed forces are in the fight. They’re taking the fight to terrorists on our terms, on their soil. And ISIS is on the run. And under this Commander-in-Chief, we will hunt down and destroy ISIS at its source so that it can no longer threaten our people, our allies, or our very way of life. As the President said, this bloodshed must end -- this bloodshed will end. (Applause.)
Men and women of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, President Donald Trump is a man of his word. And he’s a man of action. And I promise you, whatever the national media is spending its time talking about on any given day -- (laughter) -- President Donald Trump will never stop fighting to make America safe again, to make America prosperous again. He will stay in the fight, and I know you will too.
You know, all of you have helped our President get this far, and I really just came tonight to say thanks, and to be here when you honored my friend. I want to thank you for everything you’ve done. But make no mistake about it, the harder work -- maybe the most important work -- is in front of us, not behind us. (Applause.)
From this day forward, President Trump needs every ounce of your energy, your enthusiasm, your conviction, your time, your talent, and your treasure. But we also need, maybe, one other thing in these divided times. In these times of widening challenges at home and abroad, seemingly unknowable threats, and also a time of uncharacteristic division in America, I know you’re the right people for me to encourage to do one more thing. And that is pray for America. (Applause.)
And I’m not -- you know, on this one, I’m not so much talking about praying for a cause or praying for an issue. I’m always very moved by what President Abraham Lincoln said in his time when he was asked whether he believed that God was on the side of the Union Army. President Lincoln responded memorably. He said, rather than considering whether God is on our side, I think it’s better for us to consider whether we are on God’s side. So why don’t we just pray for America, for all the people of America, and for the future of this great land. (Applause.)
And when you pray, pray with confidence. Because I truly do believe that those ancient words, spoke millennia ago and enshrined in the hearts of every American. Words that have seen the people of this country through trials much greater than those that we face today. That if His people, who are called by His name, will humble themselves and pray, He’ll do like He’s always done in the long and storied history of this land. He’ll hear from heaven, and He’ll heal this land. This one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. (Applause.)
Thank you. God bless you and God bless the United States of America.