WASHINGTON—Former Vice President Mike Pence took a hard stance against former President Donald Trump’s claim that pro-life voters cost the GOP the 2022 midterm elections.
“I strongly disagree,” he said of Trump’s remarks in a Thursday interview with The Daily Signal, “and I believe that the facts speak for themselves.”
The former vice president argued (in line with messaging from top pro-life groups) that Republican candidates who articulated a “clear, unambiguous commitment to life” did very well in the midterm elections compared to Republican candidates who “shied away from the issue or who allowed Democrats to define their position.”
“That, to me, was the lesson in 2022,” Pence said.
He added of Trump, “The president is entitled to his opinion, but I think the facts speak otherwise.”
Even if this had not been the case, if pro-lifers did tank the GOP in the midterms, Pence believes “the cause of life is so much more important than politics.”
“It may take us as long to restore the sanctity of life to the center of American law in all 50 states as it took us to overturn Roe v. Wade, but we can never rest and we can never relent until we achieve that victory for life.”
‘Their Loyalty Is to the Cause of Life’
His remarks drew on Trump’s controversial Truth Social post in which the former president blamed GOP midterm losses on hardcore pro-life Republicans, saying: “It was the ‘abortion issue,’ poorly handled by many Republicans, especially those that firmly insisted on No Exceptions, even in the case of Rape, Incest, or Life of the Mother, that lost large numbers of Voters.”
“Also,” Trump added, “the people that pushed so hard, for decades, against abortion, got their wish from the U.S. Supreme Court, & just plain disappeared, not to be seen again.”
The post, and Trump’s subsequent accusations of “disloyalty” from evangelical leaders, have sparked questions about whether the former president is alienating a key portion of his base.
Pence refrained from commenting much on Trump (“I spent four years commenting on what President Trump had to say,” he said with a smile, “so I’ll just let his remarks stand for themselves”).
But the former vice president, who has been visiting large churches around the country and is heading to meet with religious Americans in Texas this weekend, senses that pro-life Americans of all faiths are looking for “leaders who will stand without apology for the right to life.”
“Their loyalty is to the cause of life,” he said. “Not to any particular candidate. And I think that’s as it should be.”
Pence recalled a quote from former President and Founding Father Thomas Jefferson, etched into the wall of the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C. The quote makes the memorial the “unintentional monument to the importance of the right to life,” Pence said.
“God who gave us life gave us liberty,” wrote Jefferson. “Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that his justice cannot sleep forever.”
“I really believe the future of this country is tied up in us renewing our commitment to life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness, because it’s out of those ideals and the defense of those ideals that we’ve created the freest and most prosperous nation in the history of the world,” Pence said.
Marching for Life
On Friday, the 50th annual March for Life will take place in Washington, D.C.—the very first March for Life since Roe v. Wade was overturned. Pence became the first vice president to speak at the March for Life in January 2017, though he had attended many times before with his family, and the former vice president recalled the experience fondly as he spoke with The Daily Signal.
Trump was seated at the Resolute Desk, Pence standing beside it, and former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus was explaining to the president that traditionally, going back to Ronald Reagan, Republican presidents would address the March for Life with a phone call or audio recording, Pence recalled.
Trump was going to be tied up in meetings with the prime minister of England, so he would not be able to call in to the march.
“I remember he gave the impression that he was disappointed that he couldn’t go,” Pence said. “They were talking about how large a crowd it was (he was never shy about speaking in front of large crowds) and had run on a commitment to the right to life as I had as well throughout my career and as vice president.”
“OK,” Pence recalled Trump saying, “let’s see if we can record something.”
“And that’s when I offered [to go],” Pence continued. “He and I were still working on our working relationship at that point, hadn’t known him for more than six months at that point. And so I said, kind of respectfully, ‘Well, you know, they invited me too.’”
Trump looked up, Pence said, and asked, “They invited you to speak?”
When Pence said yes, Trump asked if he’d like to go, and Pence said he would, the former vice president said.
“Yes,” Pence said he responded, recalling that Trump asked him, “Is that something you’d like to do?”
“Well, you should do it,” Pence said Trump responded.
“I remember hearing from another leader in the pro-life movement about what it meant to her when our motorcade pulled up,” the former vice president said. “I think, obviously, for security reasons, they hadn’t announced in advance that we were coming. But she talked about how seeing the motorcade pull up … that’s when the victory in 2016 for life, having a Republican pro-life majority in the House and Senate and a pro-life administration, really dawned on her, that we were in a new moment.”
Pence’s vocally pro-life wife Karen and daughter Charlotte were both with him.
“We walked out on the stage, and the rest is history,” he said.
What’s next for the pro-life movement, now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned? Pence’s organization, Advancing American Freedom, released a road map this week calling on the 118th Congress to take up legislation promoting a culture of life.
That road map includes the Life at Conception Act, which would legally recognize that life and personhood begins at conception; the Heartbeat Protection Act; the Protecting Pain-Capable Unborn Children From Late-Term Abortions Act; and more.
“We came up with a whole list of recommendations of things that could be done at the national level, including a heartbeat bill and others,” Pence said. “But ultimately, I also want to acknowledge that while there’s much Congress can do, and I would support any of these pro-life initiatives in Congress, it’s likely that the battle for life will be fought out in state capitals across the country.”
“I commend those state legislators around the country who’ve already taken steps to advance the sanctity of life,” he added.
Pence promises that he will continue to be a voice calling for leaders at the state levels to support life, whether they are governors or state legislators.
“For however long I have left in public life or on this earth,” he said, “we’re going to be a voice for the voiceless and a voice for the cause of life, especially in our state capitals and, of course, here in our nation’s capital.“
Since the leak of the draft Supreme Court opinion indicating that Roe v. Wade would soon be overturned, at least 78 pro-life pregnancy centers have been attacked and vandalized with pro-abortion graffiti.
Pro-abortion lawmakers, like Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., refuse to condemn these attacks and have instead called for a crackdown on the pregnancy resource centers, though they exist to help women in need.
Pence called rhetoric like Warren’s “appalling.”
“There’s been no effort in the pro-life movement more responsible for overturning Roe v. Wade and changing the hearts and minds of the American people than the crisis pregnancy centers,” Pence said. “Bar none.”
Though Democratic lawmakers have taken such stances, large majorities of voters across the political spectrum support public funding for pregnancy resource centers, according to new polling conducted by CRC Research on behalf of the 85 Fund.
That polling, exclusively obtained by The Daily Signal, found that 78% of Democrats, 71% of independents, and 67% of Republicans strongly support legislation providing mentoring services, financial assistance, and material and legal support to pregnant women through pregnancy resource centers.
Pence himself said that “Congress would do well to make sure that taxpayer dollars can be made available for the health care services that are provided” at pregnancy resource centers.
He also wants President Joe Biden to appoint a federal task force to investigate the violence against crisis pregnancy centers, and for Congress to consider additional federal penalties for violence against crisis pregnancy centers.
“There can be no tolerance for vandalism, violence, or threats of violence against these centers that are doing, really doing extraordinary, compassionate work every day,” he said.
The way to change hearts and minds in the United States is through electing and supporting pro-life men and women, at every level, who support the cause of life, Pence said.
“But I think, in the compassionate, caring work of crisis pregnancy centers, I think we can find a way forward that the country could come together around the cause of life,” he concluded.
“Left-wing, liberal Democrats celebrate abortion. But that’s not where the American people are,” Pence added. “The American people cherish life. And I truly do believe that if we lead with compassion and principle, we’ll win the cause of life, in this generation or the next, and we’ll lay a foundation for a boundless American future.”
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