Transcript: Former Vice President Mike Pence on "Face the Nation," March 17, 2024


The following is a transcript of an interview with former Vice President Mike Pence that aired on March 17, 2024.


MARGARET BRENNAN: Good morning and welcome to Face the Nation on this St. Patrick’s Day. Former Vice President Mike Pence joins us in person, in studio. Good morning to you and Happy St. Patrick’s Day. 

FORMER VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE:  Good morning Margaret, good to be with you.

MARGARET BRENNAN: There’s a lot to get to with you today. But I want to begin with some remarks Mr. Trump made yesterday at a rally in Ohio. He walked onto the stage to a song recorded by a choir of prisoners, facing charges for their role in the violence of January the sixth, take a listen.

DONALD TRUMP: You see the spirit from the hostages, and that’s what they are is hostages. They’ve been treated terribly. And very unfairly, and you know that and everybody knows that. And we’re going to be working on that soon- the first day we get into office, we’re gonna save our country, and we’re gonna work with the people to treat those unbelievable patriots and they were unbelievable patriots and are. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: I know in the past you’ve said Mr. Trump’s reckless words endanger you and your family on that day. What do you think when you hear him refer to those people facing charges as hostages and patriots?

FORMER VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Well, I think it’s very unfortunate at a time that there are American hostages being held in Gaza, that the President or any other leaders would refer to people that are moving through our, our justice system as hostages. And it’s just, it’s just unacceptable. I was there on January 6. I have no doubt in my mind, Margaret, that, that some people were caught up in the moment. And that entered the Capitol and and they’re certainly entitled to due process of law for any nonviolent activities that day. But the assaults on police officers ultimately an environment that claimed lives is something that I think was tragic that- I’ll never diminish it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And the legal system is processing these individuals through and giving them trials. I wonder what you think, though, about Mr. Trump and whether the public needs to hear and see some of the evidence in regard to the federal charges related to his alleged role in January 6, do you think that needs to happen before election day?

FORMER VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Well I, look, I think the American people lived through that moment. I and my family and my team lived through it at the Capitol that day. I think most Americans know what happened. You know, as I’ve said before, you know, I truly do believe that the judgment about the President’s conduct that day should have been left to the American people. I know it’s been brought into a criminal trial now. And, and we have cases around the country that have been brought related to that, notably in Georgia, but at the end of the day, I think the American people know what happened that day. And I said, the people that- the people that ransacked the Capitol need to be held to the fullest account of the law. And I believe that they are, but the judgment about the President’s efforts that day I think can be left to the American people. But, but look, I, you know, I said last week that, you know, after a lot of prayer and reflection, I’ve come to the conclusion that I won’t be endorsing Donald Trump this year. I mean, look, I’m very proud of the record of our administration Margaret, it was a record that left America more prosperous, and, and more secure, and, and our liberties and the sanctity of life stronger than ever before in my lifetime.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But you’ve said Mr. Trump’s walked away from conservative–

FORMER VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Well–

MARGARET BRENNAN:  –Principles this week. 

FORMER VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: I do. I said it during my presidential campaign, the President and I have profound differences, and many people think it’s just over January 6. And, frankly, the fact that the President continues to insist that, that I had the right to overturn the election that day is a fundamental difference. But I want to be clear that, you know, I’ve forgiven the president in my heart for what happened that day. As a Christian, I’m required to do that, I’ve prayed for him in that regard. But the issue of fealty to the Constitution is not a small matter- but it’s not just that. I mean, the reason that I cannot in good conscience endorse Donald Trump this year also has to do with the fact that he is walking away, not just from keeping faith with the Constitution on that day. But also Margaret, with a commitment to fiscal responsibility, a commitment–

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah. 

FORMER VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: –Of the sanctity of life, a commitment to American leadership in the world. I mean, the President’s reversal just in the last week on, on TikTok, following an administration where, where we literally changed the national consensus on China is the reason why, after a lot of reflection, I just concluded I cannot endorse the agenda that Donald Trump is carrying into this national debate.  

MARGARET BRENNAN: Is that the final word from you? Can you be persuaded? If he changes tax, to vote for him? Would you vote for him?

FORMER VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: I won’t be endorsing Donald Trump this year. I want to be clear–

MARGARET BRENNAN: But would you vote for him? 

FORMER VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: I respect the right of Republican voters who’ve made it clear who they’re for, who they want to be our standard bearer this year. What I’m gonna focus my energies on is in the what remains of this year, on what we should be for, because I joined this party when I was in college–

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah. 

FORMER VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: –Because I heard the voice and the values of another good Irishman named Ronald Reagan, who said that we need to be, have a strong national defense, but also recognize we’re a leader of the free world, and we need to stand for traditional values, the sanctity of life, we need to stand for the Constitution, and limited government and in the balance of this year, and in the years ahead, I’m just going to continue to champion those values that I think are not just good for the Republican Party, Margaret, but I think that they are the right policies for a stronger, more prosperous America.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But I asked you about persuasion and voting because this is not just Mr. Trump, he has taken the party with him. He has taken the Senate Republican leadership who are endorsing him, he has taken the House Republican endorsements with him too in terms of leadership. Are all of those people from Mitch McConnell to Mike Johnson walking away from the conservative principles, you say?  

FORMER VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Well I don’t want to say that they are, I want to say that my deep conviction is–

MARGARET BRENNAN: They are endorsing Donald Trump. 

FORMER VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: But this is a conservative party. This is still a party I believe that stands for less government, less taxes, American leadership in the world, traditional moral values and the right to life. I just think, frankly, the disaster of the Biden administration has, has resulted in people going back to what’s familiar, and I understand that I–

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah. 

FORMER VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: I worked day in and day out for four and a half years to build that record of the Trump-Pence administration. I’m incredibly proud of it. But as I look at what Donald Trump is running on now, I simply cannot in good conscience, endorse his candidacy this year. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: On the issues of the economy, which many Republicans refer to, as you know, something the Trump pence administration did well with until COVID. Trump’s campaigning on that. Last night, he was talking about electric vehicles in particular, and said, when it comes to Chinese companies who manufacture in Mexico, he’s going to put in tariffs. But I want you to listen to exactly what he said.

DONALD TRUMP: We’re going to put a 100% tariff on every single car that comes across the line, and you’re not gonna be able to sell those cars, if I get elected. Now, if I don’t get elected, it’s going to be a bloodbath for the whole, that’s gonna be the least of it, it’s going to be a bloodbath for the country, that will be the least of it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: What does that mean? And given how divided the country is, does that language concern you, particularly when it comes to political bias?

FORMER VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: First, I want to, I want to commend you, Margaret, for putting that in context. I woke up this morning, seeing online all the discussion about bloodbath. And as you’ve just reflected, the President was clearly talking about the impact of, of imports, devastating the American automotive industry–

MARGARET BRENNAN: Was that clear to you? Because it was a little muddled 

FORMER VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: I think it was. Look I want people to know, my, look, the President and I, it was very clear for four years, the President and I have, have different styles. We’re different men. My differences with him are not over style. It’s not over language. And as I said before, it’s not personal. I mean, for me, the reason why I won’t endorse Donald Trump this year is because I see him departing from the mainstream conservative agenda that has defined the Republican Party over the last 40 years, and still has the best hope for the future of the country.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And it sounds like you’re trying to move the party back in that direction, which is why I’m asking you if you’re persuadable here, but on that point you made about the commitment to the sanctity of human life. You say Mr. Trump’s walking away from it. President Biden is telling voters that Donald Trump’s trying to ban access to abortion, even though he really hasn’t given any specifics as to what he actually thinks. What would you like him to say that he will endorse a 15 week restriction like you did?

FORMER VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Well, I’m pro-life I don’t apologize for it. I couldn’t be more proud to have played a role in the administration that appointed three of the justices that sent Roe versus Wade to the ash heap of history.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But there doesn’t seem to be a conservative consensus on this issue, which is so motivating to so many voters.

FORMER VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: But look the states around the country have been advancing the principles of life. I was very disappointed during our presidential campaign. When Donald Trump denounced and said a pro life bill, a six week bill enacted in Florida which had already been enacted in Georgia and in Ohio was, I think, in his words, terrible. Look, we’re a pro life party. I mean, I really do believe that there is a national role I like I’d like to see our nominee endorse a minimum 15-week ban, but also I’d like to see a nominee that’s affirming the sanctity of life as it’s debated in states 

MARGARET BRENNAN: –And protections for IVF 

Across this country this is a pro-life party

MARGARET BRENNAN: –Protections for IVF? 

FORMER VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Absolutely. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: And endorsing, should embryos be considered children?

FORMER VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Well, look, I’m, I’m someone that believes in the sanctity of human life, that life begins at conception. My family as you know, Margaret has benefited by fertility treatments, and I think they should be protected. But I also believe that in the days ahead, we would do well to ensure that, that unborn human life, including embryos are properly treated, properly respected in the law. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, we will track that. Mr. Pence, thank you for coming in and sharing your views with us today.

Face the Nation will be back in a minute so stay with us.



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