Mike Pence talks about Trump, abortion, faith, midterm exams and his political future: NPR
The new memoir of former Vice President Mike Pence chronicles his life up to the time he refused to overturn then-President Donald Trump’s 2020 election defeat.
so help me god is the kind of polished life story that is often a prelude to a presidential run, which Pence envisions. Coincidentally or not, the book’s November 15 release date was the exact date Trump declared his candidacy for president in 2024.
Trump’s announcement competed but did not entirely drown out Pence, who has given interviews about his book to several networks and newspapers in recent weeks.
It was telling that after the midterm election defeat of many high-profile candidates who rejected the 2020 election results, Trump’s announcement speech did not directly mention his claims about his defeat – a subject whose he had been constantly chatting for two years, including in a January interview with NPR. Instead, Pence is the one arguing about it, saying Trump was ‘wrong’ and they parted ways”.
Pence faces an extraordinary challenge as a political leader whose national reputation is intertwined with the Trump administration’s record but who says the Constitution and his conscience would not allow him to follow Trump’s ultimate demand.
The former vice president met with an NPR team at the Indiana State Capitol Law Library: a fitting place, both because he was once state governor and because respect for the law is now at the center of the story he must tell.
For part of the A 42-minute conversation, Pence recounted the events of January 6, 2021, when he presided over the ceremonial counting of electoral votes for the 2020 presidential election.
When a mob disrupted the proceedings, Pence retreated with family members to an office in the United States Capitol and then to an underground parking lot, but refused to flee the building.
“It just infuriated me,” he said, and once the police regained control of the building, he was successful that evening in presiding over the completion of the vote count. Eventually, he learned that many members of the crowd, prompted by a tweet from the president, had chanted to hang him.
“President Trump was wrong, and his words and actions that day were reckless,” Pence said. “They endangered my family and the people in the Capitol building. And I will never have any other view.”
Q. Is Trump a good man?
A. “Only God knows.”
Former Vice President Mike Pence recounts the Jan. 6 attack, when then-President Trump’s remarks sparked a crowd to search for Pence. From @NPR interview to come on Tuesday: pic.twitter.com/cGLUZyVHpo
—Steve Inskeep (@NPRinskeep) November 22, 2022
That’s a far cry from the speech Pence, chosen as Trump’s running mate, gave at the 2016 Republican National Convention, in which he called Trump a “good man.”
When asked if he still considers Trump a good man, Pence responded at length without ever saying that was the case. He only said that Trump was the author of significant achievements but that he was “wrong” on January 6.
“I truly believe that only God knows our hearts,” he added. “And I’ll leave it to others to make their own judgment.”
Pence spoke with NPR morning edition about his faith, his political trajectory and where he thinks he and his party might go next. The full transcript of this conversation can be found here.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
On the decision of the Supreme Court annulling Roe vs. Wade
I am pro-life. I don’t apologize. I will always cherish serving as vice president of the administration that appointed three of the Supreme Court justices, that gave us a fresh start in life, that returned the issue of abortion to the states and to the American people, where it belongs. … I said following the Dobbs decision that we have not arrived at the end — we have arrived at the end of the beginning. And I am determined, however many years I have left on this earth, to be a voice for the unborn and to work every day to restore the sanctity of life to the center of American law. . … Whatever our role, I will seek to be a voice for the right to life.
On the fact that midterm voters were generally favorable the right to abortion
The common denominator for me was that Republicans who articulated their position on the right to life did well. Republicans who didn’t articulate their position and let their position be defined didn’t do as well. … I want to concede a point. We have a long way to go on this file. But I believe that in the most prosperous nation on the planet, we should be a nation founded on the inalienable right to life and to allow women in crisis of pregnancy to go to term or to raise their child or to give their child up for adoption. But I also think it’s equally important, as you see states advancing pro-life legislation, that they’re advancing legislation not just for the unborn child, but for the newborn.
Why, as he says in his book, he thinks his faith has been “misunderstood”
When my wife was attacked for teaching in a Christian school, when one media after another ridiculed our Christian faith from time to time, I was always struck by that. Because as I traveled across America, the words I heard most often, and I heard them every day, where people reached over a rope or stopped me at the corner of a street and say, “I’m praying for you.” I mean, it’s a nation of faith, of different denominations. I am a born again Christian, raised in a wonderful Catholic home. But the American people cherish faith in the overwhelming majority, and yet it seemed to be a subject of fascination for some in the liberal media.
If he thinks people misunderstand his position on LGBTQ issues
I think no one should ever be harassed or discriminated against because of who they are, who they love or what they believe. But that being said, there are profound implications on this issue, as Justice Kennedy wrote in the Oberefell ruling, which relate to religious freedom — and the courts have been sorting that out ever since. I’ll tell you, I was heartened that the Supreme Court struck a balance on issues of religious liberty and individual rights, and I hope the court’s conservatives continue to do so. But if there’s anything people don’t quite understand about the Pences, it’s… knowing our family, we love everyone. My faith tells me to love your neighbor as yourself. And it’s something we aspire to do every day, whether we agree with every point of view or every value of the people we meet.
On what Pence would want to accomplish if elected president
Traveling in this country, what I have heard from the American people is that they want to return to the policy of the Trump-Pence administration: a strong military, a market economy free, of conservatives on our courts, of America alongside our allies, standing up to our enemies. But I think they yearn for a leadership that could unite our country around our highest ideals and demonstrate the kind of respect and civility that the American people show each other every day.
This interview was produced by Phil Harrell and Nick Michael and edited by HJ Mai. Rachel Treisman adapted it for the web.