Vice President Mike Pence speaks on the third night of the Republican National Convention on August 26, 2020.
Transcript as prepared for delivery
Mike Pence: Good evening, America. It is an honor to speak to you tonight from the hallowed grounds of Fort McHenry, the site of the very battle that inspired the words of our national anthem. Those words have inspired this land of heroes in every generation since. It was on this site 206 years ago when our young republic heroically withstood a ferocious naval bombardment from the most powerful empire on earth.
They came to crush our revolution, to divide our nation, and to end the American experiment. The heroes who held this fort took their stand for life, liberty, freedom and the American flag. And those ideals have defined our nation. But they were hardly ever mentioned in last week’s Democratic National Convention.
Instead, Democrats spent four days attacking America. Joe Biden said that “we were living through a season of darkness,” but as President Trump said, “where Joe Biden sees American darkness, we see American greatness.”
In these challenging times, our country needs a president who believes in America, who believes in the boundless capacity of the American people to meet any challenge, defeat any foe, and defend the freedoms we hold dear. America needs four more years of President Donald Trump in the White House.
Before I go further, allow me to say a word to families and communities in the path of Hurricane Laura. My prayers are with you tonight. And our administration is working closely with the authorities in the states that will be impacted. FEMA has mobilized resources and supplies for those in harm’s way. This is a serious storm, and we urge all of those in the affected areas to heat state and local authorities. Stay safe, and know that we will be with you every step of the way to support, rescue, respond and recover in the days and weeks ahead. That is what Americans do.
Four years ago, I answered the call to be on this ticket, because I knew that Donald Trump had the leadership and the vision to make America great again. And for the last four years, I watched this president endure unrelenting attacks but get up every day and fight to keep the promises that he made to the American people. So with gratitude for the confidence President Donald Trump has placed in me, the support of our Republican Party, and the grace of God, I humbly accept your nomination to run and serve as vice president of the United States.
Serving the American people in this office has been a journey I never expected. It is a journey that would not have been possible without the support of my family, beginning with my wonderful wife, Karen. She is a lifelong schoolteacher, an incredible mother to our three children, and she is one outstanding second lady of the United States. I’m so proud of you.
And we could not be more proud of our three children. Marine Corps Captain Michael J. Pence and his wife, Sarah. Our daughter, Charlotte Pence Bond, an author and the wife to Lt. Henry Bond, who is currently deployed and serving our nation in the United States Navy.
And our youngest, a recent law school grad, our daughter Audrey, and her fiancé, who, like so many other Americans, had to delay their wedding this summer, but we cannot wait for Dan to be a part of our family.
In addition to my wife and kids, the person who shaped my life the most is also with us tonight, my mom, Nancy. She is the daughter of an Irish immigrant, 87 years young. And mom follows politics very closely. And the truth be told, sometimes I think I am actually her second favorite candidate on the Trump-Pence ticket. Thank you, mom. I love you.
Over the past four years, I’ve had the privilege to work closely with our president. I have seen him when the cameras are off. Americans see President Trump in lots of different ways, but there is no doubt how President Trump sees America. He sees America for what it is, a nation that has done more good in this world than any other, a nation that deserves far more gratitude than grievance, and if you want a president who falls silent when our heritage is demeaned or insulted, he’s not your man.
Now we came by very different routes to this partnership, and some people think we are a little bit different. But, you know, I have learned a few things watching him, watching him deal with all that we have been through over the past four years. He does things in his own way, on his own terms. Not much gets past him. And when he has an opinion, he is liable to share it. He certainly has kept things interesting, but more importantly, President Donald Trump has kept his word to the American people.
In a city known for talkers, President Trump is a doer, and few presidents have brought more independence, energy or determination to that office. Four years ago, we inherited a military hollowed out by devastating budget cuts, an economy struggling to break out in the slowest recovery since the Great Depression. ISIS controlled a landmass twice the size of Pennsylvania, and we witnessed the steady assault on our most cherished values, freedom of religion and the right to life.
That’s when President Donald Trump stepped in. And from Day 1, he kept his word. We rebuilt our military. This president signed the largest increase in our national defense since the days of Ronald Reagan and created the first new branch in our armed forces in 70 years, the United States Space Force.
And with that renewed energy, we also returned American astronauts to space on an American rocket for the first time in nearly 10 years. And after years of scandal that robbed our veterans of the care that you earned in the uniform of the United States, President Trump kept his word again. We reformed the V.A., and Veterans Choice is now available for every veteran in America.
Our armed forces and our veterans fill this land of heroes, and many join us tonight in this historic forum. Tonight, we have among us four recipients of the Medal of Honor. Six recipients of the purple heart. A Gold Star mother of a gallant Navy seal. And wounded warriors from SoldierStrong, a group that serves our injured veterans every day. We are honored by your presence, and we thank you for your service.
With heroes just like these, we defend our nation every day. But under this commander in chief, we have taken the fight to radical Islamic terrorists on our terms on their soil. Last year, American armed forces took the last inch of ISIS territory, crushed their caliphate and took down their leader without one American casualty. And I was there.
When President Trump gave the order to take out the world’s most dangerous terrorist — Iran’s top general will not harm another American — because Qassim Suleimani is gone. My fellow Americans, you deserve to know, Joe Biden criticized President Trump following those decisions. Decisions to rid the world of two terrorist leaders. But it’s not surprising, because history says Joe Biden opposed the operation that took down Osama bin Laden. It is no wonder that the secretary of defense under the Obama-Biden administration once said that Joe Biden has been, and I quote, “wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.”
So we have stood up to our enemies, and we have stood with our allies, like when President Trump kept his word and moved the American Embassy to Jerusalem, the capital of the state of Israel, setting the stage for the first Arab country to recognize Israel in 26 years.
Closer to home, we have appointed nearly 200 federal judges to the courts. We supported the right to life and all of the God-given rights enshrined in our Constitution, including the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.
And when it came to the economy, President Trump kept his word and then some. We passed the largest tax cut and reform in American history. We rolled back more federal red tape than any administration ever had. We unleashed American energy and fought for free and fair trade. And in our first three years, businesses large and small created more than seven million good paying jobs, including 500,000 manufacturing jobs all across America.
Our country became a net exporter of energy for the first time in 70 years. Unemployment rates for African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans hit the lowest level ever recorded, and on this 100th anniversary of a woman’s right to vote, I am proud to report that under President Donald Trump, we achieved the lowest unemployment rate for women in 65 years. And more Americans working than ever before.
In our first three years, we built the greatest economy in the world. We made America great again.
And then, the coronavirus struck from China. Before the first case of the coronavirus spread within the United States, the president took unprecedented action and suspended all travel from China, the second largest economy in the world.
Now, that action saved untold American lives, and I can tell you firsthand it bought us invaluable time to launch the greatest national mobilization since World War II. President Trump marshaled the full resources of our federal government from the outset. He directed us to forge a seamless partnership with governors across America in both political parties. We partnered with private industry to reinvent testing and produce supplies that were distributed to hospitals around the land.
Today, we are conducting more than 800,000 tests a day, and we have coordinated the delivery of billions of pieces of personal protective equipment for our amazing doctors, nurses and health care workers. We saw to the manufacture of 100,000 ventilators in 100 days, and no one who required a ventilator was ever denied a ventilator in the United States.
We built hospitals, served medical military personnel and enacted a rescue package to save 50 million American jobs. As we speak, we are developing a growing number of treatments, known as therapeutics, including convalescent plasma, that are saving lives all across America.
Now, last week, Joe Biden said that no miracle is coming. Well, what Joe does not seem to understand is that America is a nation of miracles. And I’m proud to report that we are on track to have the world’s first safe, effective coronavirus vaccine by the end of this year.
After all the sacrifice, in this year, like no other, and all of the hardship, we’re finding our way forward again. But tonight, our hearts are with all of the families who have lost loved ones and have family members still struggling with serious illness. In this country, we mourn with those who mourn. We grieve with those who grieve. And tonight, I know that millions of Americans will pause and pray for God’s comfort for each of you.
Our country does not get through such a time unless its people find strength within. The response of doctors, nurses, first responders, farmers, factory workers, truckers and everyday Americans, who put the health and safety of their neighbors first, has been nothing short of heroic.
Veronica Saez put on her scrubs every day and day in and day out went to work in one of New York City’s busiest hospitals. She stayed on the job, put in the long hours until it was done, and then got back in her neighborhood and helped neighbors and friends struggling. Her brother, William, is a New York City firefighter. And they are both emblematic of heroes all across this country. They are with us tonight, and I say to them and to all of you: You have earned the admiration of the American people, and we will always be grateful for your service.
Thanks to the courage and compassion of the American people, we are slowing the spread. We are protecting the vulnerable. And we are saving lives. And we are opening up America again. Because of the strong foundation that President Trump poured in our first years, we have already gained back 9.3 million jobs in the last three months alone.
And we are not just opening up America again. We are opening up America’s schools. And I am proud to report that my wife, Karen, that schoolteacher I have been married to, will be returning to her classroom next week, and so, to all of our heroic teachers and faculty and staff, thank you for being there for our kids. We’re going to stay with you every step of the way.
In the days ahead, as we open up America again, I promise you we will continue to put the health of America first. And as we work to bring the economy back, we all have a role to play, and we all have a choice to make. On Nov. 3, you need to ask yourself, who do you trust to rebuild this economy? A career politician who presided over the slowest economic recovery since the Great Depression or a proven leader who created the greatest economy in the world? The choice is clear. To bring America all of the way back, we need four more years of President Donald Trump in the White House.
My fellow Americans, we’re passing through a time of testing. But in the midst of this global pandemic, just as our nation had begun to recover, we have seen violence and chaos in the streets of our major cities. President Trump and I will always support the right of Americans to peacefully protest. But rioting and looting is not peaceful protest. Tearing down statues is not free speech, and those who do so will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Last week, Joe Biden did not say one word about the violence and chaos engulfing cities across this country. So let me be clear. The violence must stop, whether in Minneapolis, Portland or Kenosha, too many heroes have died defending our freedom to see Americans strike each other down. We will have law and order on the streets of this country for every American of every race and creed and color.
President Trump and I know that the men and women who put on the uniform of law enforcement are the best of us. Every day, when they walk out that door, they consider our lives more important than their own.
People like Dave Patrick Underwood, an officer in the Department of Homeland Security Federal Protective Service, who was shot and killed during the riots in Oakland, Calif. Dave’s heroism is emblematic of the heroes that serve in blue every day. We are privileged tonight to be joined by his sister, Angela.
Angela, we say to you: We grieve with your family. And America will never forget or fail to honor officer Dave Patrick Underwood.
The American people know we do not have to choose between supporting law enforcement and standing with our African-American neighbors to improve the quality of their lives, education, jobs and safety. And from the first days of this administration, we’ve done both, and we will keep supporting law enforcement and keep supporting our African-American and minority communities across this land for four more years.
Now Joe Biden says that America is systemically racist, and that law enforcement in America has, and I quote, “an implicit bias against minorities.” When asked whether he’d support cutting funding to law enforcement, Joe Biden replied “yes, absolutely.” Joe Biden would double down on the very policies that are leading to violence in American cities. The hard truth is you will not be safe in Joe Biden’s America. Under President Trump, we will always stand with those who stand on the thin blue line, and we are not going to defund the police — not now, not ever.
My fellow Americans, we are passing through a time of testing. Soon, we will come to a time for choosing.
Joe Biden has referred to himself as a transition candidate, and many were asking, “Transition to what?” Last week, Democrats did not talk very much about their agenda. And if I were them, I wouldn’t either. I mean, Bernie Sanders did tell his followers Joe Biden would be the most liberal president. In fact, he said, and I quote, that many of the ideas he fought for that just a few years ago were considered radical are now mainstream in the Democratic Party.
At the root of their agenda is the belief that America is driven by envy, not aspiration, that millions of Americans harbor ill will towards our neighbors instead of loving our neighbors as ourselves. The radical left believes that the federal government must be involved in every aspect of our lives to correct those American wrongs. They believe the federal government needs to dictate how Americans live, how we should work, how we should raise our children, and in the process, deprive our people of freedom and prosperity and security. Their agenda is based on government control. Our agenda is based on freedom.
Where President Trump cut taxes, Joe Biden wants to raise taxes by nearly $4 trillion. Where this president achieved energy independence for the United States, Joe Biden would abolish fossil fuels, end fracking and impose a regime of climate change regulations that would dramatically change the cost of living for working families. Where we fought for free and fair trade, and this president stood up to China and ended the era of economic surrender, Joe Biden has been a cheerleader for Communist China. He wants to repeal all of the tariffs that are leveling the playing field for American workers, and he actually criticized President Trump for suspending all travel to China at the outset of this pandemic.
Joe Biden is for open borders, sanctuary cities, free lawyers and health care for illegal immigrants. President Trump, he’s secured our border and built nearly 300 miles of that border wall. Joe Biden wants to end school choice, and President Trump believes that every parent should have the right to choose where their children go to school regardless of their income or area codes.
President Trump, President Trump, has stood without apology for the sanctity of human life every day of this administration. Joe Biden, he supports taxpayer funding of abortion, right up to the moment of birth.
When you consider their agenda, it is clear. Joe Biden would be nothing more than a Trojan horse for the radical left. The choice in this election has never been clearer, and the stakes have never been higher. Last week, Joe Biden said democracy is on the ballot. And the truth is, our economic recovery is on the ballot. Law and order are on the ballot. But so are things far more fundamental and foundational to our country.
In this election, it is not so much whether America will be more conservative or more liberal, more Republican or more Democrat. The choice in this election is whether America remains America. It’s whether we will leave to our children and our grandchildren a country grounded in our highest ideals of freedom, free markets, and the unalienable right to life and liberty, or whether we will leave them a country that is fundamentally transformed into something else.
We stand at a crossroads, America. President Trump has set our nation on a path of freedom and opportunity. Joe Biden would set America on a path of socialism and decline. But we are not going to let it happen.
President Donald Trump believes in America and in the goodness of the American people. The boundless potential of every American to live out their dreams and freedom, and every day, President Trump has been fighting to protect the promise of America. Every day, our president has been fighting to expand the reach of the American dream. Every day, President Donald Trump has been fighting for you. And now, it is our turn to fight for him.
On this night in the company of heroes, I am deeply grateful, deeply grateful for the privilege of serving as vice president of this great nation, that I have the opportunity to serve again. I pray to be worthy of it, and I will give that duty all that is in me.
In the year 2020, the American people have had more than our share of challenges, but, thankfully, we have a president with the toughness, energy and resolve to see us through. Those traits actually run in our national character. As the invading force learned on approach to this fort, in September of 1814, against fierce and sustained bombardment, our young country was defended by heroes, not so different from those who are with us tonight. The enemy was counting on them to quit. But they never did. Fort McHenry held. And when morning came, our flag was still here.
My fellow Americans, we are going through a time of testing. But if you look through the fog of these challenging times, you will see, our flag is still there today. That star-spangled banner still waves over the land of the free and the home of the brave. From these hallowed grounds, American patriots in generations gone by did their part to defend freedom. Now, it is our turn.
So let’s run the race marked out for us. Let’s fix our eyes on Old Glory and all she represents. Let’s fix our eyes on this land of heroes and let their courage inspire. And let’s fix our eyes on the author and perfecter of our faith and our freedom and never forget that where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. That means freedom always wins.
My fellow Americans, thank you for the honor of addressing you tonight and the opportunity to run and serve again as vice president. I leave here today inspired, and I leave here today more convinced than ever that we will do in our time, as Americans have done throughout our long and storied past. We will defend our freedom and our way of life. We will re-elect our president and principled Republican leaders across the land. And with President Donald Trump in the White House for four more years, and with God’s help, we will make America great again, again.
Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the United States.