Vice President Mike Pence closed out the third night of the Republican National Convention with a speech that labeled his predecessor Joe Biden as "a Trojan horse for a radical left," as he made his case for re-electing President Donald Trump.
Pence spoke at Fort McHenry in Baltimore, the site of a battle during the War of 1812 that inspired Francis Scott Key to write "The Star-Spangled Banner," and was joined by Trump as well as VIP guests including Medal of Honor recipients, frontline workers, military veterans, firefighters and police officers.
At the top of his remarks, Pence spoke about Hurricane Laura, which was set to strike the Gulf Coast as a category 4 storm as of Wednesday night.
"This is a serious storm. We urge all those in the affected areas to heed state and local authorities," he said.
Pence was the first speaker of the week to acknowledge the civil unrest taking place in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where Jacob Blake was shot in the back by officers in an incident caught on cellphone video. A teenager was also arrested Wednesday and charged with first-degree homicide in connection with the fatal shooting of two protesters Tuesday night.
Pence, who did not mention Blake, Brianna Taylor, George Floyd or the other Black Americans' names whose deaths this year have sparked protests, referenced the demonstrations in Kenosha, Minneapolis and Portland for his case on the president's "law and order" mandate.
"Too many heroes have died defending our freedoms to see Americans strike each other down," he said.
Crime was one of the areas where Pence attacked Biden during the speech and claimed that under a Democratic administration, the former vice president "would set America on a path of socialism and decline."
Although Biden has repeatedly said he does not want to defund the police, including during an interview with ABC News Friday, Pence argued in his speech that that is what Biden wants to do.
"Joe Biden would double down on the very policies that are leading to unsafe streets and violence in America’s cities," Pence said.
The vice president claimed Biden would enact "far left ideas" and cited Sen. Bernie Sanders' endorsement.
"They believe the federal government needs to dictate how Americans live, how we should work, how we should raise our children," Pence said.
The vice president touted Trump's response to the coronavirus, which has infected 5.8 million Americans and killed over 179,000 people in the country as of Wednesday night. Trump publicly downplayed the virus earlier year, and led been federal response panned by health experts and leaders, including Biden, for its slow reaction to the outbreak and lack of centralized coordination.
The president himself has downplayed public health guidance, pushed the country to reopen against the guidance issued by his administration, and endorsed unproven therapies and treatments - raising concerns from some public health experts that he will pressure regulators to approve a vaccine ahead of the election before it has demonstrated its efficacy.
When Pence was announced as the chair of the White House's coronavirus task force in February he told reporters "the threat to the American public remains low." He also followed the president's lead and did not wear a face covering to events, including a trip to the Mayo Clinic in April and a Florida restaurant in May while pushing for more states to reopen their economies.
He took shots at Biden's remarks that "no miracle was coming" to save the American people from the virus.
"Well, what Joe doesn't seem to understand is that America is a nation of miracles," Pence said to the crowd of people at Fort McHenry, which had many maskless people.
Read a full transcript of Pence's RNC speech below:
Good evening, America. It's 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 at 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 forward, allow me to say a word to the families and communities in the path of Hurricane Laura. Our prayers are with you tonight, and our administration is working closely with 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 heed state and local authorities, stay safe and know that we'll be with you every step of the way, to support, rescue, respond, and recover in the days and weeks ahead.
That's what Americans do. Four years ago, I answered the call to join 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've 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's a journey that would not have been possible without the support of my family, beginning with my wonderful wife Karen.
She’s a life-long school teacher, an incredible mother to our 3 children. And she’s one outstanding second lady of the United States. I'm so proud of you. And we couldn't be more proud of our three children: Marine Corps captain, Michael J. Pence, and his wife Sara.
Our daughter Charlotte Pence Bond, an author and wife to Lieutenant 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 can't wait for Dan to be a part of our family. In addition, my wife and kids, the person who’s shaped my life the most is also with us tonight.
My mom, Nancy. She is the daughter of an Irish immigrant, 87 years young. Mom follows politics very closely. And the truth be told, sometimes I think I'm 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’ve seen him when the cameras are off. Americans see President Trump is lots of different ways. But there’s 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're a little bit different. But you know, I've learned a few things watching him. Watching him deal with all that we've 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's liable to share it. He's certainly 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 of the slowest recovery since the great depression. ISIS controlled a landmass twice the size of Pennsylvania, and we witnessed a 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 one, 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 of 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 VA 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 fort. 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 S.E.A.L. and wounded warriors from Soldiers Strong, 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 this nation every day. And under this commander in chief, we've 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 causality.
Iran’s top general will never harm another American again because Qassem Soleimani 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 records that Joe Biden even opposed the operation that took down Osama bin Laden. It's no wonder that the secretary of the 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've stood up to our enemies and we've 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 appointed more than 200 conservative judges to our federal courts. We supported the right to life and all the God-given liberties 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 7 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 the women's right to vote, I'm 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 we -- that were distributed to hospitals around the land.
Today we're 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, surged military medical personnel, and enacted an economic rescue package that saved 50 million American jobs. And as we speak, we're 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 doesn't seem to understand is that America is a nation of miracles. And I'm proud to report that we're 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, all 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 this night, I know that millions of Americans will pause and pray for God's comfort for each of you.
You know, our country doesn't get through such a time unless its people find the 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, 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're both emblematic of heroes all across this country.
They're 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 and care.
Thanks to the courage and compassion of the American people, we're slowing the spread. We're protecting the vulnerable, and we're saving lives. And we’re opening up America again. Because of the strong foundation that President Trump poured in our first three years, we’ve already gained back 9.3 million jobs in the last three months alone.
And we’re not just opening up America again, we’re opening up America's schools.
And I’m proud to report that my wife, Karen, that school teacher I’ve 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'll continue to put the health of America first.
And as we work to bring this economy back, we all have a role to play, and we all have a choice to make. On November 3rd, 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 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. When, in the midst of this global pandemic, just as our nation had begun to recover, we've seen violence and chaos in the streets of our major cities.
President Trump and I will always support the right of Americans to peaceful 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 didn't 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 that 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's federal protective service who was shot and killed during the riots in Oakland, California. Dave's heroism is emblematic of the heroes that serve in blue every day. And we’re 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 don't 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 systematically 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 America's cities.
The hard truth is, you won't be safe in Joe Biden's America. And under President Trump, we will always stand with those who stand on the thin blue line, and we're not going to defund the police, not now, not ever.
My fellow Americans, we're passing through a time of testing. But 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 didn't talk very much about their agenda. And if I were them, I wouldn't either. I mean Bernie Sanders did tell his followers that Joe Biden would be the most liberal president in modern times. 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 toward 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, 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 dollars. 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 drastically increase 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 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 code. 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's 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's 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 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're 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 in 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's our turn to fight for him.
On this night in the company of heroes, I'm deeply grateful. Deeply grateful for the privilege of serving as vice president of this great nation, and to have the opportunity to serve again. I pray to be worthy of it, and I will give that duty all that's 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.
Now, 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're 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's 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's 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 your 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 of America.