Vice President Mike Pence energized the 1,000 attendees at Turning Point USA’s Midwest Regional Conference with spirited promises that the Trump administration will lead the charge to “build the wall,” repeal and replace Obamacare, vigorously defend the sanctity of life, continue to grow a booming economy, and protect free speech rights on school campuses.
“It has been two years of action, two years of results; two years or promises made and promised kept. America is back and we are just getting started,” he said to an audience of student activists and donors that was continuously jumping to its feet in raucous applause.
In the form of a cautionary question, Pence also issued a stern warning.
“The American people face a choice in the next two years. The stakes have never been higher and the choice has never been clearer. Will America continue building on the extraordinary progress that we have made over the past two years in security and prosperity, or will Democrats take America on a hard left turn and squander all the gains we have fought so hard to advance? That is the choice.”
And throughout his 40 minute talk, the vice-president hit hard against the Democrats’ sudden affection for socialism.
“This country was founded on a simple but profound principle. That principle was freedom,” he said in reverential tones. “Today, Democrats openly advocate an economic system that has impoverished millions of people around the world. That system is socialism. But it was freedom, not socialism, that gave us the most prosperous economy in the history of the world. It was freedom, not socialism, that ended slavery, won two world wars, and stands today as a beacon of hope for all the world. It was freedom, not socialism, that is moving us beyond the prejudices of the past to create a more perfect union and extend the blessings of liberty to Americans of every race, creed, and color. And it was freedom, not socialism, that gave us the highest quality of life, the cleanest environment, and the greatest health care system the world has ever known.”
“The moment America becomes a socialist country is the moment America ceases to be America,” he warned. “And as the President said in his State of the Union address, so we must say with one voice: America will never be a socialist country.”
Pence also spoke more specifically about the Democrat party’s embrace of “Medicare for all.”
“Obamacare was a federal takeover of health care. Obamacare has failed and now they want Medicare for all — a single payer system. Many of us believe that was their objective all along. What ‘Medicare for all’ really means is quality health care for none.”
“Let me make you a promise,” he said. “President Trump and I will never give up in our effort to repeal and replace Obamacare and give the American people a heath care system based on choice, affordability, and freedom.”
The Vice President was introduced by Turning Point founder Charlie Kirk, who called Pence “a man of faith, a man of conviction and a man of the Midwest.”
With a broad smile, Pence warmed up the crowd with a simple one-liner. “What a week we have had.”
In that week, he noted, “the last inch of the ISIS caliphate was captured” and now “the ISIS caliphate is no more.” Also, House Republicans upheld the Trump declaration of a national emergency on the southern border “and we’ve already started to build that wall.” The so-called “Green New Deal” got no votes in the Senate, even from those Senate Democrats who endorsed it. And finally, he said, “the collusion delusion is over! Make no mistake about it. This was a total vindication.”
Pence also took a quick victory lap around the Trump administration’s two year record of achievement that included the largest tax cut and tax reform package in American history, historic rollbacks in government red tape, resultant record low unemployment rates for many segments of the society, and stimulation of the energy sector that now means America is the largest producer of oil and natural gas in the world.
Pence also cited major investment in the military, the elimination of the Obamacare individual mandate, and the appointment of a record number of conservative judges.
All of this has resulted in the creation of more than 5.3 million new jobs, Pence said. That includes 490,000 new manufacturing jobs. He noted that President Obama once said the hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs lost in the last decade “were not coming back” and mocked anyone who said they were as needing a “magic wand” to do so. “Two years later we didn’t need a magic wand, we just needed Donald Trump as the 45th president.”
“America is open for business,” he said. “More Americans are working today than ever before. And for the first time on record there are more job openings than there are Americans looking for work. You recent college graduates picked a great time to enter the workforce.”
Pence also hit hard on the subject of illegal immigration.
“The president has said so many times, if you don’t have a border, you don’t have a country. We have a crisis on our southern border. It is like nothing we’ve ever seen before.”
He noted that now, for the first time, the majority of illegal immigrants are unaccompanied minors and families that are being exploited by human traffickers and drug cartels. “Democrats say it is a manufactured crisis. About the only think that is manufactured is their outrage. Every day we don’t secure our border we are allowing this crisis to worsen.”
One facet of that crisis is the nation’s drug epidemic. He cited statistics that say drug overdose today is the leading cause of death for adults under 55. In 2017 across America, 192 people died from drug overdoses every day.
“There is no community across the heartland or anywhere in America that hasn’t felt the scourge of drug abuse. That is among the reasons the President took such a strong stand for border security.”
In the face of Democrat opposition to Congressional action, a national emergency on the border was needed, he said, “because this president knew America needed action.”
Pence said that if the Mexican government does not heed President Trump’s demand that Mexico immediately stop the flow of illegals into this country, “we will be closing the border or large segments of it next week.”
“We’re going to build that wall and I will make you a promise. We are going to fix this broken immigration system once and for all.”
On the subject of abortion, the Trump administration “stands without apology for the sanctity of human life” while the Democrat Party “is embracing a radical agenda of abortion on demand,” said Pence. He noted that every Democrat senator running for president recently voted against a bill that protected newborn babies that survived abortion form being killed. “This president, this administration, and this movement will always stand for the unborn.”
Pence also addressed a subject most relevant to Turning Point USA members, that of campus hostility toward conservatives.
“On too many campuses, policies are making it clear that conservative voices are not welcome and students who dissent from liberal dogma in the classrooms are silenced by speech codes and safe spaces and trigger warnings. There is a real battle in our country. It is a battle over the closing of the American mind, and each of you are on the front lines.”
He noted, for example, that Hayden Williams was punched in the face on the UC Berkeley campus for exercising his right to free speech as he was trying to recruit students for a new Turning Point USA chapter on the campus.
“After the news broke, left wing voices on twitter actually thanked and applauded his attacker. What a disgrace,” said Pence. “Hayden is a tough guy, and as the President said, Hayden can take a punch. The truth is Hayden took a punch for all of us, but he shouldn’t have to.”
Pence also singled out for praise Miami of Ohio student Ellen Whitman, who was in the audience. Last year, Whitman planned to put small wooden crosses on campus representing the lives of the unborn but school officials said she had to post signs all over campus to give students a “trigger warning.”
Last week, Whitman was in the White House to witness President Trump signing an executive order that said universities that allow the attempted silencing of free speech will risk jeopardizing their federal aid. “We will not give them money. It is that simple,” he said.
A recent poll published in the Washington Times suggested Americans agree with her and the President. Seventy three percent of respondents favor the President’s order.
At the signing ceremony, Whitman “said words I will never forget,” Pence continued. “She said speech is not free when university officials put conditions on student speech, and then she added, ‘the only permit we need to speak on campus is the First Amendment.’”
In closing, Pence offered words of encouragement to the young conference attendees as they battle for free speech.
“Focus on the truth and you will persevere,” he said. “It does not take courage to silence free speech. It takes courage to defend it. Censorship is the tool of the coward. Keep standing strong and we will all stand with you.”