The following is a transcript of an interview with former Vice President Mike Pence that aired on “Face the Nation” on August 27, 2023.
NANCY CORDES: We want to turn now to politics and former Vice President Mike Pence, who joins us from Indiana this morning. Mr. Vice President, thank you so much for being here.
FORMER VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: Thank you, Nancy. Thanks for having me on.
NANCY CORDES: Absolutely. I want to start with this shooting in Jacksonville. You know, here we are. It’s the eve of the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington. And yet we’re appearing- we’re appearing to witness a rise in racial hatred in white supremacy across the country. What can you do? What can your party do? What can the nation do to address this?
FORMER VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Well, there’s no place in America for racially inspired violence. And I condemn what occurred in Jacksonville in the strongest possible terms. That wasn’t a criminal act. That was an act of evil. And- but I- and our prayers are with the families who lost loved ones and those that are injured, cared, and I prayed this morning for them. And as a Marine Corps family, we also prayed for the families of our Marines that were lost and injured in the Osprey crash. We believe in prayer at our house, Nancy. But- but look, I- this issue of mass shootings is one that I think we need leadership in this country, afresh. I will tell you that I believe that the- there’s a series of steps that we can take. Providing law enforcement with the support that they need. Ending this- this long experiment of defunding the police by the American left. I think we need to provide federal funding to provide armed guards at all of our public and private schools. We need a commitment to institutional health care in this country that I’ve called for many months ago. But at the end of the day, I also believe that justice delayed is justice denied. And I’m calling for an expedited federal death penalty for anyone engaged in a mass shooting like took place in Jacksonville or frankly, like the shootings that took place at- at a baseball park and at a football game. We- we’ve got to send a message to anyone that has evil in their hearts, that there is no chance for them to spend the rest of their life behind bars. That they’re going to meet their fate in months, not years. And I believe- I believe expedited due process of federal death penalty for those that engage in the kind of mass shootings that claim lives in Jacksonville. Yesterday is an idea whose time has come.
NANCY CORDES: Understood. Let’s turn to the Republican primary. There was a moment that a lot of people will remember from the debate the other day, and that was when all of the candidates were asked whether they thought you did the right thing on January 6 2020. Let’s listen quickly to how some of them responded.
(SOUND ON TAPE)
FORMER U.N. AMBASSADOR NIKKI HALEY: Vice President Pence did the right thing.
GOVERNOR DOUG BURGUM: Mike Pence did the right thing on January 6.
FORMER NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR CHRIS CHRISTIE: Mike Pence stood for the Constitution.
SEN. TIM SCOTT: Absolutely. He did the right thing.
GOVERNOR RON DESANTIS: Mike did his duty. I’ve got no beef with him.
(END SOUND ON TAPE)
NANCY CORDES: Can you tell us what it felt like to get that kind of validation from your fellow Republican leaders after all the abuse you’ve taken from the MAGA wing of your party for the past two and a half years for that? For simply doing your job on January 6?
FORMER VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Well, well, Nancy it was heartening. But it wasn’t anything new. Frankly, as I’ve traveled around this country for the last two and a half years, Americans from every walk of life who come up to me and- and express their appreciation for the fact that we did our duty that day. Look like- I- as I said, I understand the disappointment in the 2020 election. I was on the ballot. But under our Constitution, states certify elections, and once court cases, and reviews and recounts are completed the only duty of the Vice President is to preside over a joint session of Congress where those votes are open and counted. And I welcome the fact that almost everybody on that stage made it clear that I did my duty that day. And I think the American people deserve to hear where every single one of the candidates for the Republican nomination stand.
NANCY CORDES: Yeah. I want to ask you about one of those candidates, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy. You had some criticism of him on the stage. You said the country can’t afford to have a rookie in the White House. I wonder what you make of his voting record? He is listed as an unaffiliated voter in his home state of Ohio. He didn’t vote in the 22 primaries. He has acknowledged that he didn’t vote in most presidential elections and he describes himself as a “American nationalist.” What’s your view of his politics?
FORMER VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Well, you know- where to start. We had a good vigorous debate, which is-you know- which is why you have primaries, Nancy, and I welcome the chance to contrast my long standing commitment to the conservative agenda to- and- and frankly, the fact that I believe in all humility that I’m the most qualified and the most tested candidate in this race, not only with Vivek, who I’ve known for several years, but for everybody else on the stage. I mean, look, I think this country is in a lot of trouble. I think Joe Biden, from that disastrous withdrawal in Afghanistan two years ago this week, to his policies that launched the worst inflation in 40 years, mortgage rates went up to a 22 year high yesterday, burdening families. Their war on energy, the crisis at the border, the assault on our liberties. Now is the time, I believe, for leadership, that- that knows how to move the Congress, knows how to move an administration, but also has led a state and made the hard choices of a chief executive at the state level. And so I was happy to contrast that with regard to his voting record —
NANCY CORDES: — We’re talking about- we’re talking about Ramaswamy here. If you don’t mind, Mr. Vice President, he said that he would pardon, Mr. Trump. You were one of six candidates on the stage who said that you would support Mr. Trump, even if he is convicted of a felony. Why do you feel that way? Especially since you also said on the stage that you felt that he asked you to put him before the Constitution? Why should someone like that be President?
FORMER VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Well, look, I signed a pledge to be on that stage to say that I support the Republican nominee. I remain confident, more confident after Wednesday night, that the Republican nominee will not be the former president, that we’re going to give the American people a standard bearer for the GOP that’s going to be able to lead us to victory against Joe Biden and- and the radical left. But- so you know, I raised my hand just to say that I’ll- I’ll support the Republican nominee because Nancy, I could never support Joe Biden. I mean, Joe Biden’s policies had been disastrous. He and his family are under an ethical cloud themselves. And frankly, Joe Biden has trampled on the Constitution of the United States. He’s failed to faithfully execute our laws at the southern border of the United States, created the worst crisis in American history, and that student loan giveaway, where he was going to ask truck drivers to pay their taxes to pay off the student loans of graduate students was a- was essentially an unconstitutional power grab that I rejected. So I’ll support the Republican nominee and- and I’m going to continue to work my heart out to make sure that it’s me.
NANCY CORDES: Mr. Vice President will be looking forward to the next debate and seeing you there. Appreciate you joining us this morning.
FORMER VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Thank you, Nancy. Good to be with you.