Indiana Governor Mike Pence joined me this morning in a wide ranging interview responding to many of the proceedings in Philly:
HH: Pleased to welcome back to the Hugh Hewitt Show the next vice president of the United States, Indiana Governor Mike Pence. Governor Pence, good to have you on the show. Welcome, and congratulations on your nomination as the GOP’s candidate for the vice presidency.
MP: Thank you, Hugh, it’s great to be back on, and we couldn’t be more honored, couldn’t be more humbled to have the opportunity to run and serve with the next president of the United States.
HH: There is a lot to cover. I want to begin on a somewhat lighthearted note. Secretary Clinton’s big night last night, she was giving a speech, it’s not the greatest speech. Bill Clinton falls asleep. Your opponent, Tim Kaine, is sitting next to him, and he has a pro move. He sees the camera, and he kind of leans in to try and block the camera. But does Mike Pence elbow Donald Trump at that point in order to wake him up? Or do you just try to block the camera?
MP: (laughing) I just, only the Hugh Hewitt Show would have that video already up online. I really hadn’t seen it until this morning, and look, you know, it was late, but let me assure you, having been on the road with Donald Trump most of this week, there would never be a need for an elbow. I’ve never been around anybody who’s more energetic, more determined, more focused. I mean, Donald Trump’s energy level, his commitment, his devotion to the American people just radiates out of every minute that I’ve been with him. So I can’t imagine it would ever happen, but I’ve got to tell you, I was having a hard time staying awake listening to Hillary Clinton, too.
HH: You and me both. But Tim Kaine, I give him like props. It was a pro move. You’ve seen the video. He leans in to try and block the fact…(laughing)
HH: All right, let’s go to the biggest, let’s go to the biggest vulnerability of the Secretary. I use the mnemonic device Every Liberal Really Seems So, So Sad to bring up Egypt, Libya, the Russian reset button, Syria, the Status of Forces Agreement, her server and the Supreme Court. You were on the Foreign Affairs Committee, I think, for a dozen years, were you not?
MP: At least ten, right.
HH: Did any of her attempts, Egypt, Libya, Russia, Syria, did any of them do other than fail miserably?
MP: It’s just extraordinary to think of the record of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. I don’t know that there was, I don’t know that we’ve had a more disastrous tenure for a secretary of State in American history, particularly in the wider Middle East. I mean, literally, everywhere that this administration has touched has just spun apart. And what was remarkable about the speech last night is she just, she just seemed to double down on the failed policies of this administration at home and abroad. And I think last night, I think last night, the American people heard the other half of the debate that’s going to go on for the next 100 days, Hugh, is that you know, if you like declining American power in the world, if you like a stifled and struggling economy at home, then Hillary Clinton is your choice. That was, she doubled down on the liberalism, they like to call it progressivism, of the recent past, and Donald Trump laid out a vision for a stronger America at home and abroad, freeing up the American economy, rebuilding a military, confronting our enemies, law and order at home. And I just, I think the contrast could not be more clear.
HH: Now I’ll come back to Egypt, Libya, the Russian reset, Syria and her failure to negotiate a status of forces agreement, which lost the peace in Iraq. But I want to focus on the server for a moment. Yesterday, Donald Trump got into an exchange with Katy Tur. I do not approve, by the way, of him telling Katy Tur to be quiet, but nevertheless, this is the exchange that he had with Katy Tur that launched a million commentaries yesterday. Can we play that clip?
DT: That’s up to the President. Let the President talk to him. Look, here’s the problem. Here’s the problem, Katy. Katy, here’s the problem, very simple. He has no respect…
KT: He said I won’t…
DT: Well, they probably have them. I’d like to have them released.
KT: Does that not give you pause?
DT: No, it gives me no pause. If they have them, they have them. We might as well find…hey, you know what gives me more pause? That a person in our government, crooked Hillary Clinton, here’s what gives me pause.
DT: Be quiet. I know you want to save her, that a person in our government, Katy, would delete or get rid of 33,000 emails, that gives me a big problem, after she gets a subpoena. She gets subpoenaed, and she gets rid of 33,000 emails? That gives me a problem. Now if Russia or China or any other country has those emails, I mean, to be honest with you, I’d love to see them.
HH: Now Governor Pence, last year, Mike Morell, former deputy director of the CIA, former acting director of the CIA, long time public servant, 30 years, bipartisan, was on this show and had this to say about Hillary Clinton’s server.
HH: What did you make of the Secretary of State having a private server in her house?
MM: So I don’t think that was a very good judgment. I don’t know who gave her that advice, but it was not good advice, and you know, she’s paying a price for it now. Yeah, it was a, it was not good.
HH: As a professional matter, do you believe that at least one or perhaps many foreign intelligence services have everything that went to and from that server?
MM: So I think that foreign intelligence services, the good ones, the good ones, have everything on any unclassified network that the government uses, whether it’s a private server or a public one. They’re that good.
HH: So that’s a yes?
HH: And this is Rudy Giuliani to my colleague, Mike Gallagher, yesterday, Governor Pence, talking about whether or not the Russians have Hillary Clinton’s private emails.
RG: The reality is I will tell you, Mike, my company, Giuliani Partners and my law firm, Greenberg Traurig, we do cybersecurity for a living. And I’ve been doing it for 13 years. So it’s a subject I know. The Russians have those emails. They’ve had them for some time.
HH: All right, so Governor Pence, do you agree that the Russians have Hillary Clinton’s emails?
MP: Well, I don’t know that we know at all. I don’t know who would have them. I know there’s the possibility that they do, and the reason there’s a possibility that some foreign power is in possession of what could well be classified information concerning the government of the United States is because what has been clearly demonstrated is that Hillary Clinton compromised that classified information by using a private server. But look, you know, Donald Trump and I have been very clear on this. If it is found that Russia or China or any other foreign power compromised the private email, or capture classified information, and then released that information through the Wikileaks or otherwise, there’d be serious consequences for that. And I think what you hear Donald Trump…
HH: Should she…
MP: What you hear Donald Trump saying is he’s just calling into higher relief that there were, you know, 33,000 emails that we were told were just wedding plans and private conversations between family, 33,000 emails that should have been turned over to the FBI in their investigation vanished. He’s just simply saying gosh, if they’re out there somewhere, I would like to see them. I bet the overwhelming majority of the American people, and certainly in the media, his point the other day is, would like to see them. You know, Abraham Lincoln said give people the facts, and the republic will be saved. I mean, I think that’s the point that he’s making. He’s not encouraging some foreign power to compromise the security of this country. He’s just making the kind of candid reflection that you know, the thing about Donald Trump that I’ve found so refreshing is that the man says what the majority of folks are thinking, and doesn’t worry about, you know, what the media has to say about that. But rest assured, if there is, the FBI will get to the bottom of where these Wikileaks were, you know, emails came from that show such collusion between Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee to shut Bernie Sanders out and make all kinds of specious comments about religion and race. But beyond that, you know, we’ll hold them strictly accountable if that occurred. But the bottom line is that the people deserve to know what’s happening here, and I think Donald Trump calling attention again to these emails this week was an important part of the narrative during the Democrat National Convention.
HH: So Governor Pence, if on Wikileaks or anywhere else there appear any of the emails from Hillary Clinton’s private server, whether they are on the ones that were turned over to State, or the ones that she deleted, any of them, that will mean her server was compromised.
HH: If that happens, should she drop out of the race?
MP: Well, I think the fact that, you know, the FBI director in testimony before the Congress, and in the announcement of his decision not to recommend charges basically listed a number of violations of the law that compromise classified information. I think that does disqualify her to serve as president of the United States, but look, her party nominated her this week. And they have chosen to put her on the ballot. Now, you know, the American people have a choice to make, you know, whether they want, whether they want someone who in his address before the country was willing to call out the level of corruption at the highest levels of government, that as Donald Trump said he’d ever seen in his lifetime, or whether they want someone who, you know, the speech last night was nothing new. It was just more of the same, more government, more of the same failed foreign policy. And again, I just think the choice could not be clearer. I mean, you’ve got to hand it to Hillary Clinton last night. She doubled down on their big government, liberal agenda, on a weak foreign policy on the world stage. And so now we’ve got 100 days to debate this before the American people.
HH: Well, there is a long article at the New York Times about the Russian practice of Kompromat, for those Steelers fans who are listening, and it means compromising someone. I think she’s got to drop out if it comes on, but I’ll move on, Governor. Let me ask you about the one…
HH: A big criticism I have of Trump-Pence. You guys bar some reporters from your campaigns, specifically the Washington Post. I’ve argued about this with Mr. Trump. It’s not in the American tradition. Will you argue with him to lift that ban, because reporters are part of the game. And we shouldn’t ban, Republicans should not be afraid of reporters. Will you do that?
MP: Well, I found out about that. We had a great rally the other night with Scott Walker in Wisconsin, and some of the local folks, some of the local folks you know, asked for credentials from reporters, and there was a reporter that was not permitted in the setting. And I’ll tell you, we’re all talking about that. I had a long, I have a long history, as you well know, Hugh, of advocating and defending for a free and independent press.
MP: You know, I authored legislation in the Congress. We actually got it passed once or twice, to create, you know, the ability to keep confidential sources confidential. So we’re going to have those conversations internally, and I fully expect in the next 100 days, we’re going to continue to be available to the media, whether they’re fair or unfair, and we’re going to take our case to the American people directly.
HH: Yeah, I really hope you get the Post back in. I just think it’s an unnecessary diversion. Now let’s talk about defense policy. When I talk to Donald Trump about the particulars of defense policy, the nuclear triad, the Ohio Class submarine…
HH: It’s like talking to an Englishman about football, right? They know when somebody scores. They’ve got the general idea, but if you talk about crack back blocking, or baseball, you know, if you talk about the infield fly rule, they lose it. Donald Trump has not spent his life, like you have, like I have, dealing with national security issues. When you talk with him, is he in the process of briefing up on these specifics?
MP: Donald Trump is surrounding himself with an extraordinary group of men and women with capabilities, as I think you saw it in the VFW speech this week, that he’s going to continue to lay out the detailed policies in a broad range of areas. But you know what? It’s not, you know, I was really struck the other day. I saw President Obama in an interview, I forget where it was, but he said something like he was concerned about having a president that didn’t know stuff. And you know, it just reminded me of, I’ll paraphrase something Ronald Regan used to say. You know, he says it’s not what they don’t know, it’s what they know that just isn’t so, right? I mean, you know, we’ve got a president who’s got this professorial air, and then we just heard that once again, same tone out of their nominee last night, and the truth of the matter is it isn’t that they understand or it isn’t that they’ve got a handle of the nuclear triad, or they’ve got a handle on national security issues and our various alliances. It’s just that they don’t understand America’s place in the world. They don’t understand the obligations that we have as the arsenal of democracy. And they frankly don’t understand the important of unambiguous American leadership on the world stage. I mean, that, to me, is what is most appealing about Donald Trump. And literally the thousands of people who pour out, you know, he and I hit the road this week, and he was in Iowa last night to an enormous crowd, and I was at his side in Virginia and in Florida and in Scranton, Pennsylvania. And people are turning out because they know this man is a distinctly American leader who’s going to bring this clear-eyed, strong, American leadership back onto the world stage, put America first, stand by our allies and stand up to those who would oppose us, and confront and destroy our enemies.
HH: Now you’ve been with him a lot. President Obama two nights ago called Donald Trump a demagogue after citing fascism, implying that he’s a fascist demagogue. Hillary Clinton said last night I’m the only one is actually code for breaking with American tradition. You have been with him. And Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal said he’s a Mussolini in the making. What do you respond to those folks and to the neverTrump crowd generally about his lack of understanding of the limits of presidential power and governing in one of three separate branches?
MP: It’s been a privilege for me and my family to be able to spend time with Donald Trump, and Melania and their kids, and I just have to tell you, you know, the man that I see when the klieg lights are off, you know, is, he is solicitous, he is bright, he is engaging. And I will say he’s extremely considerate and kind. He’s been, they have been remarkably gracious to my family. But what, you know, one of the things someone said to me yesterday, I just happened to make an offhand comment when we were in Grand Rapids campaigning, I did my first solo campaign day yesterday. And somebody asked me the same question, and I said well, the thing about Donald Trump is he’s constantly asking questions. He’s constantly peppering people with questions. And I’m not talking about to the pollsters and the consultants. I’m saying you know, he’s grabbing taxi cab drivers, he’s grabbing elevator operators, when we’re going in and out of events, he stops and talks to the police officers who are there. I mean, it is, I think it’s the reason why he has such a connection with everyday Americans is because in his, you know, in his heart and in his life, he has always been connected to those people.
HH: So you dismiss the demagogue?
MP: But I’ve found him to be, well, you know, I don’t think name calling has any place in public life, and I thought that was unfortunate that the president of the United States would use a term like that, let alone laced into a sentence like that. But I just don’t see it. I see, I think what I have found in Donald Trump is this is a man of enormous accomplishment, obviously someone who has achieved great things in his life. But he’s really got a heart for the American people, and I think it comes from the fact that he’s a builder. You know, like me, he’s the grandson of an immigrant. He’s the son of a self-made man. And he built on his father’s success far and beyond anything that his family could imagine. And yet he’s done that shoulder to shoulder with the people that lay the bricks, and that, you know, that cut the 2 X 4’s and build those structures up. And to see him among the people, not just on the campaign trail, that’s exciting to be out and to see the enthusiasm that Americans of every stripe and every background have for this good man, but to see him as I have among the people who work with him and work for him, to see their respect for his high standard, but their fondness for him, convinces me this good man is going to be a great president of the United States.
HH: Now Kareem Abdul-Jabbar accused you, Mike Pence, by name last night of selling fear with the religious liberty act in Indiana. They do not know, apparently, that many evangelicals were upset with you on the revision of the act. What’s your response to Abdul-Jabbar and to the evangelicals?
MP: Well, I’ve always admired him as a basketball player, but I think we have very different opinions on policy. Look, people who know me know I abhor discrimination. And I cherish the liberties that are enshrined in our Constitution, Hugh. Indiana, a little more than a year ago, passed a bill that was similar to the religious liberty bill that President Clinton signed back in the 1990s. It became a source of great controversy, and as the leader of the state of Indiana, I thought it was important that we take some measures to amend the bill to ensure people that it would not, you know, jeopardize the rights of anyone. We did that in a way that did not compromise the Constitutional rights of any Hoosier, and we quelled the controversy, and our state has never been more prosperous. We were able to put that behind us, and deal with it. And that’s the long and the short of it.
HH: My colleague at NBC and MSNBC last night, Rachel Maddow, said that you, Mike Pence, were all on board with the Muslim ban having once denounced it. What’s the truth?
MP: Well, look, I expressed concern about the broad strokes that Donald Trump first used in that regard, but I completely support his call to suspend the refugee program from countries that have been compromised by terrorism. In fact, in the state of Indiana, we were among the first states to suspend the Syrian refugee program in the wake of terrorist attacks last year. And you know, we were criticized for that, but I said at the time, and Donald Trump believes strongly that whether it’s the president of the United States or the governor of any state, we have no higher priority than the safety and security of our people. And I completely support Donald Trump’s call to suspend immigration from any countries that have been compromised by terrorism unless and until that has been quelled, or we put into place the kind of vetting that the American people can know that the people that are coming here don’t represent a threat to our families and our communities.
HH: Two last questions, Governor Pence. Everybody likes you in the party, so I’m wondering, win or lose, you are eligible to serve as the Republican National Committee chairman. It was be a first for a sitting vice president to do it, but there’s no bar to that. Reince Priebus is there. He’s doing a great job.
MP: He is doing a great job.
HH: But if he retires, would you serve as Republican National Committee chair, win or lose?
MP: (laughing) Gosh, you do the Hugh Hewitt Show, and you get these all completely fresh ideas. I’ll tell you what. I believe we’re going to win this election. I believe the energy and enthusiasm that we see, I mean, I wasn’t there with him last night. We went our separate ways about a day ago after a couple of great days of campaigning together. But I saw the pictures from Iowa. I saw the huge crowds that we had in Michigan and Waukesha the night before. I, you know, it would be the greatest honor of my life to serve as vice president of the United States with Donald Trump as our president. And if I have that honor, I will focus all of my energies and all of my time and talent and prayers to that enterprise, and none other.
HH: Well, I want you doing it, multitasking. And here’s the last one. The Supreme Court, I begin, I begin last hour of this radio show with the quote of Donald Trump talking about the Supreme Court, because it is everything.
HH: It’s 30 years policy…
MP: Couldn’t agree more.
HH: The 1st and 2nd Amendment, will you have a role in judge picking? Are you confident, this is so important for the NeverTrump crowd to hear, are you confident that he will put originalist in the mold of Scalia and Alito, and I say Chief Justice Roberts? A lot of my colleagues don’t like it. You’ve got one minute left. Are you confident, Mike Pence?
MP: I am absolutely confident that Donald Trump will appoint Supreme Court justices in the tradition of the late and great Justice Antonin Scalia. And we were together at a public event the other day, and I’ll just say he made a point at a town hall meeting to say that I would be involved in that publicly. But we have talked extensively about that. And I think Donald Trump understands the enormous importance of the next president of the United States’ role in appointing up to two to three justices to the Supreme Court. And I tell people for the sake of the rule of law, for the sake of the sanctity of life, for the sake of the 2nd Amendment, for the president to appoint justices to the Supreme Court must be a President Donald Trump.
HH: Governor of Indiana Mike Pence, thank you, Governor, thanks for your son’s service in the Marine Corps. It is going to be, you’re clearly going to be on the Navy side of the Army-Navy game every week, but thank you for that as well.
End of interview.