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Congressman Mike Pence Says It’s Time To Pick A Fight

Thursday, March 17, 2011
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HH: Joined now by Congressman Mike Pence. Congressman, always a pleasure, thanks for joining us.

MP: Thank you, Hugh. And thanks for having me on.

HH: Now Congressman, Jack Kingston, I like to think of as a friend. He’s had me into the Capitol, I’ve had him on the radio show a number of times. But you know we’ve reached an impasse when I have to ask him on the radio if he thinks I’m stupid, because I honestly do believe many Republicans think I and the people who listen to this show are stupid, and that we don’t understand what’s going on back there. And now, they’re coming after you with anonymous comments in the Daily Caller and other stuff. What is going on inside of the caucus?

MP: Well look, I just have to tell you that you know, when we passed H.R. 1, that kept our promise, we found $61 billion in savings, $100 billion off the President’s number, we defunded Obamacare, defunded Planned Parenthood, and not only did the Senate reject it, but Harry Reid went to the floor of the Senate last week or so and said that our modest, minor down payment on fiscal discipline was reckless, irresponsible, mean-spirited, and then we defended the Cowboy Poetry Institute’s federal funding. That’s when I told the team behind closed doors, and then publicly, it’s time to pick a fight. You know, things don’t change in Washington, D.C. until they have to. And that’s why 54 of us yesterday actually voted against the three week resolution. It’s why a whole lot more than that are prepared to square off with Democrats three weeks from now. I just think at the end of the day, we’re not going to move the liberals in the Senate or the administration unless we’re willing to make a stand for fiscal responsibility and for American taxpayers. And that is a growing sentiment among House Republicans. And I’m believing more almost every hour that that fight that I wished we’d pick yesterday, we’re going to pick in just a couple of weeks.

HH: Now have you read this Daily Caller piece yet, Mike Pence?

MP: No, I really haven’t. You know, you mentioned it, some other people around the country on the airwaves mentioned it. You know, I’ve been on Capitol Hill for ten years, and I found out a long time ago a lot of the times these anonymous aides, if they can’t beat your arguments, they just beat on you. And that’s all right. I’m a big boy. I can take it. The suggestion that people like Jeff Flake and Mike Pence are taking a stand for fiscal responsibility for political reasons, when we’re been taking these stands for a decade, you know, I mean, I opposed the Medicare prescription drug bill back in 2005, I opposed No Child Left Behind. You know, I’ve been taking a stand for fiscal responsibility and limited government for the last ten years.

HH: Oh, I know, but I’m wondering where’s the Speaker, the Leader and the Whip, coming out and saying not only do we welcome a robust debate about how deep and how fast a cut, we will fire any Republican who takes a shot at a member, because he is a blood-sucking cyst on the public trust. And you guys were sent here by Tea Party people.

MP: Well, I don’t know if anybody in our leadership has seen the articles, either. I haven’t seen them. I’ve heard a little bit about them on the airwaves. But look, I have no doubt that Speaker John Boehner and Republican Leader Eric Cantor and the rest of our leadership will privately, and if needs be, publicly denounce any effort to essentially bad mouth the intentions of Republicans that are simply fighting for fiscal responsibility.

HH: Oh, this just makes me…

MP: I haven’t heard any of that kind of talk from my colleagues, and I don’t expect to hear it.

HH: Well, this makes me see red. I am curious if you think…do you believe your colleagues, Mike, you’ve done a lot more traveling than some of them, and you ran the conference, and so you have to deal with a lot more of the base than some of them do, who’ve got safe districts and never come outside of their porch. Do they have any idea how angry the base is with what is perceived as, I call them, McClellan Republicans, you know, retreat, retreat, whatever we do, don’t engage, retreat?

MP: Well, I think there’s a growing awareness about that. You know, there were 54 people who voted yesterday to pick a fight this week with liberals in the Senate. But guarantee you that there were many multiples of that, that said this is the last one of these they’re doing. I think that they do understand it. I think people picking up the phone and calling, and telling folks that they’re going to back them up…you know, nobody wants a government shutdown, but if we don’t take a stand and fight, we’re going to shut down the future for our children and grandchildren. I think Republicans get that. I think the overwhelming majority of our new majority gets that. But voices like yours, Hugh, and your millions of listeners around the country, sending emails and making telephone calls over the next couple of weeks, saying to Republicans you take a stand, you do what you need to do to turn this ship of state back in the direction of fiscal discipline, it’s going to help strengthen and give courage to those men and women who are ready to fight.

HH: Now Mike Pence, there’s also a sneer in here, which I bring to your particular attention, because I played your speech when you brought the motion to defund Planned Parenthood. And this unnamed aide sneers, they were going to shut down the federal government over Planned Parenthood? Now the depths of that ignorance, and the absolute indifference to the base, is pretty remarkable, but it also tells me that his boss, or her boss, doesn’t intend to stand with defunding Planned Parenthood. I’d like to know what you think is the vote on that right now.

MP: Well, we got 240 votes in the House of Representatives to deny all federal funding to Planned Parenthood of America, and I think it’s an idea whose time has come. The largest abortion provider in America should not continue to be the largest recipient of federal funding under Title X. I know we’ve got a heavy lift in the Senate, but I’m confident that Speaker John Boehner and our House Republicans are going to fight to defend those elements of the bill, like defunding Obamacare and defunding Planned Parenthood, when we have a final showdown on this bill. But you know, I think H.R. 1 is the bill, H.R. 1 is the battle line that we should fight for. And I’m confident that we’re going to fight on all of those fronts.

HH: Congressman Mike Pence, always a pleasure, thank you, Congressman, and we’ll check back with you as this battle unfolds. Keep speaking on behalf of this audience, at least, in the caucus.

MP: Three weeks and counting, Hugh, and people including all your millions of listeners need to let their voice be heard that it’s time to pick a fight.

HH: Thank you, my friend, we’ll do that. 202-225-3121. Gotta keep talking to folks like him who actually know what they’re doing.

End of interview.

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