THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. Thank you all for that very warm welcome. (Applause.) Thank you all. Thank you all. It is -- it's wonderful to be back. Wonderful to be back with the men and women of the Faith and Freedom Coalition. And I'm especially honored by the words that just preceded me. You know, Abraham Lincoln said his only ambition in life was to be esteemed by the people he esteemed. So would you join me in thanking Ralph Reed for his extraordinary leadership of this great coalition and this movement across America. (Applause.)
Ralph and I have known each other a long time -- all the way back when we both had dark hair. (Laughter.) But Ralph knows me well enough to know that I'm humbled by his words, but the introduction I prefer is a little shorter. I'm a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican in that order. (Applause.) And it's my great honor to be with you tonight.
And we are among so many people who make such a difference, in pulpits around the land and in public service and leading organizations that represent our values. But I'm also honored to be joined tonight by a sum of my real heroes, like Senator James Lankford from the great state of Oklahoma. (Applause.)
And to Eugene Scalia, who is with us, and the hundreds of Americans of faith who have come from near and far, and all of those looking on. It's a joy to be with you tonight for this Patriot's Gala.
And I also understand that, later tonight, the Faith and Freedom Coalition is going to recognize another American who I have admired throughout my adult life. He is someone who has carried forth the conservative message as an educator, as a historian, as a voice on the public airwaves like very few Americans. He was Secretary of Education. And he's been educating Americans about the strength of our values and our foundation in liberty. Allow me to offer an early congratulations tonight to the recipient of this year's Winston Churchill Lifetime Achievement Award, Bill Bennett. It's an honor to be with you today. (Applause.) Congratulations. So well deserved. Congratulations, Bill.
And speaking of friends of mine, let me begin tonight by bringing greetings from a another friend of mine. He's on the other side of the world, but I know his heart is here with all of you. And I know he kicked off your week of gathering for the Faith and Freedom Coalition. So allow me to bring greetings from the 45th President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump. (Applause.)
You know, starting you off this week, the President said, and I quote, "Americans' belief in God has forged the character of our country and made our nation a light unto the world." And the President added, our administration is "fighting for all Americans and we are embracing the faith community" as never before.
Thanks to your support and thanks to the leadership of this President, I'm pleased to report to you that faith and freedom are on the rise all across America. (Applause.)
You know, it's the greatest honor of my life to serve as Vice President to a President who gets up every day just to keep the promises that he made to the American people. And he's been standing without apology for faith and freedom every day. And I have seen it when the cameras are off. This is a -- this is a President who is a man of action. But President Donald Trump is a man of his word, and he has kept his word to communities of faith all across America. (Applause.)
You know, I think there's only one way you could describe the last two years. It's been two years of action. It's been two and a half years of results. It's been two and a half years of promises made and promises kept. (Applause.) But we're just getting started. (Applause.)
I mean, think about it. President Trump promised to revive the American economy by rolling back red tape, unleashing American energy, fighting for fair trade deals, and passing the largest tax cuts and tax reform in American history. And that's exactly what we've done. The results are remarkable. (Applause.)
And you're from all across America so you don't need me to tell you, but I'll tell you anyway. (Laughter.)
5.8 million new jobs since Election Day 2016. And the unemployment rate is at a 50-year low. (Applause.) Wages are rising at the fastest pace in more than a decade.
Probably most meaningful to the President and me: Wages are rising at their fastest pace for working and blue-collar Americans. The forgotten men and women of America are forgotten no more. (Applause.) And the American Dream is working again for every American. (Applause.)
The unemployment rate for women is at a 60-year low and it's the lowest unemployment rate ever recorded for African Americans and Hispanic Americans. (Applause.)
I can tell you in this room know firsthand confidence is back, jobs are back. In a word, America is back. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: USA! USA! USA!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: But as we all know, the foundation of our prosperity is security. And on that count, the President has been busy as well. After years where we saw reckless cutbacks in our military, at a time when we took office, there were literally American military aircraft that were grounded so they could be used as spare parts for other aircraft to keep them in the air.
Thanks to this President's leadership and our strong allies in the Congress of the United States, President Trump signed the largest increase in our national defense since the days of Ronald Reagan. (Applause.) We're rebuilding our military. We're restoring the arsenal of democracy. And we are once again giving our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guard the resources and training they deserve. (Applause.)
And with that renewed American strength, we have a President who wants -- is once again embracing his role as leader of the free world.
We're standing strong with our allies, and we're having our allies do more than they've ever done before. As I stand before you today, our NATO Allies are contributing more to our common defense than they have for four decades. And this President has stood. He's stood with our allies, especially our most cherished ally, like when President Trump kept a promise that had been made by four previous administrations only to be set aside. But this President kept it when he moved the United States embassy to Jerusalem, the capital of the state of Israel. (Applause.)
That's what we call promises made and promises kept. With that renewed American strength, we've also stood up to our adversaries and those who would challenge America's interests around the world.
This President has put Iran on notice that we'll no longer tolerate their malign activity and their spread of terrorism in the world. We brought North Korea to the negotiating table. And the President is on the Korean Peninsula as we speak. and will be headed to the DMZ, maybe before this dinner is out.
And we've taken the fight to radical Islamic terrorists on our terms, on their soil. And thanks to the courage of our men and women of the United States Armed Forces and this Commander-in-Chief, the last inch of territory controlled by ISIS has been captured. The black flag of the caliphate flies no more over the territory they once controlled. (Applause.)
And I'm proud to report, in the wake of that military victory, the United States is also, under this President's leadership, helping to rebuild communities across the Nineveh Plain that were devastated by the brutality of ISIS. And I'm proud to report, with the strong support of our partners in Congress, the United States has already committed more than $300 million in aid to rebuild Christian and Yazidi communities torn asunder by war. (Applause.)
In fact, the United States is also standing strong and calling out religious persecution wherever it takes place, whether it be in Nicaragua, and Russia, Iran, or in the People's Republic of China. And I want to promise you this administration is going to continue to speak out and stand up for the freedom of conscience and the freedom of religion for people all over the world. We will hold up that ideal. (Applause.)
And, men and women, persecuted Christians around the world deserve our prayers. And I promise you that they will always have the support of the United States of America. This administration has worked tirelessly, I'm proud to say, also to secure the release of Americans facing persecution and captivity, from Egypt, to Venezuela, to North Korea, and to Turkey. After two years of captivity, thanks to the tenacious demand of this President, Pastor Andrew Brunson is home. (Applause.)
So we've stood up for people of faith and our most cherished values on the world stage. But as you all know and have been such a big part, we've also been standing for those values here at home since the very first day of this administration. This President has reaffirmed our commitment to the rule of law, to the foundation of constitutional principles on which our nation was built.
This President has actually appointed more judges to our Federal Court of Appeals in the last two years than any President in American history. (Applause.) And they are all principled conservatives who will uphold the God-given liberties enshrined in our Constitution, like the freedom of religion, the freedom of speech, and the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. (Applause.)
I've met many of these judges on the bench. They're incredible. One hundred and fourteen federal judges confirmed so far, Senator. And how about a round of applause for Senator Lankford and Leader McConnell and all the great Republicans in the United States Senate who have confirmed these great judges, including Justice Neil Gorsuch and Justice Brett Kavanaugh? (Applause.)
And our administration has also taken action to protect and promote our first freedom: the religious liberty of every American.
You know, I probably don't need to tell all of you that we live in a time when it's actually become fashionable to mock religious belief. And we see it among media elites, television commentators, and liberal politicians.
You remember back in 2016 when they called us deplorable? Recently, our former Vice President actually said that Americans who stand for traditional moral values are, in his words, "forces of intolerance," including, and I quote, "dregs of society."
In fact, one senator who also has national aspirations, said that our administration's budget director -- who happens to be a Bible-believing Christian -- is not, as he said, quote, "someone who this country is supposed to be about," simply because was a Christian.
Now, I must tell you, the American people cherish the religious freedom and the freedom of conscience of every one of our citizens, and these attacks on people of Christian faith must stop. (Applause.)
It's just not what we're about as Americans. Americans cherish the faith of every person, the freedom of conscience of every person to believe or not to believe, according to the dictates of their conscience and their traditions. And I commend you for upholding that principle.
And I'll make you a promise: Under this President and this administration, we will always stand with people of faith. We will always defend the freedom of religion of every American, of every faith, so help us God. (Applause.)
Back in 2016, this President promised that he would, in his words, "defend your religious liberties and the right to fully and freely practice your religion, as individuals, business owners and academic institutions." And that's exactly what he has done.
We've taken action to protect the conscience rights of doctors and nurses, in this administration. After years of neglect, we've restored federal enforcement of our nation's conscience laws, and we ended the last administration's assault on the Little Sisters of the Poor. (Applause.)
And as the President said just a few days ago, here in this White House, we believe the freedom of speech should not end at the front door of our churches and places of worship. That's why we ended enforcement of the Johnson Amendment. (Applause.) And we will continue to work to repeal the Johnson Amendment once and for all. (Applause.)
You know, you think about the freedom of speech and the pulpits of this nation -- maybe when Bill Bennett takes to this podium tonight, having written some of the most important histories of the founding of this country, he can tell you how important those pulpits were when we first claimed our freedom in 1776.
We've also gone to court to protect the right to religious expression in the public square. It's amazing to think, decades ago, a 40-foot cross was built in Bladensburg, Maryland, to commemorate the men who died fighting for our freedom in World War I. And for years, that cross stood tall and true -- a symbol of our nation's gratitude to those heroes. But recently, left-wing activists threatened to tear it down.
But in this administration, we stood for the Peace Cross in Maryland. (Applause.) And last week, by a 7 to 2 vote, the Supreme Court of the United States said the Peace Cross of Maryland can stay. (Applause.)
So we've stood for liberty, for the rule of law, and the foundation of our constitutional liberties. But let me tell you from the bottom of my heart: I couldn't be more proud to serve as Vice President to a President who stands without apology for the sanctity of human life. President Donald Trump is the most pro-life President in American history. (Applause.)
I mean, in one of the President's very first acts, he reinstated the Mexico City Policy to make sure that taxpayer dollars wouldn't be used to promote abortion overseas or to promote and provide abortion overseas or around the world.
And I was honored to cast the tie-breaking vote and to watch the President sign legislation that allowed states across the country to defund Planned Parenthood. (Applause.)
And speaking of the nation's largest abortion provider, you know, we all remember back in 2015 when those chilling undercover videos were on the airwaves of the nation that showed horrific conversations about the sale and transfer of parts of aborted babies. So I want to be sure you know, just a few weeks ago, President Donald Trump ended fetal tissue research at the National Institutes of Health. (Applause.)
You know, it is remarkable to think, at a time when more and more Americans -- especially younger Americans are embracing the sanctity of life -- that the party that once said abortion should be safe, and legal, and rare, now supports abortion on demand, even late-term abortion.
In state legislatures across the country, Democrats are endorsing late-term abortion. And we all saw where the Democrat governor of Virginia openly defended infanticide.
AUDIENCE: Booo --
THE VICE PRESIDENT: You should also know that Democrats in the Senate -- including every Democrat running for President of the United States -- voted against a bill that would prevent newborn babies who survived failed abortions from being killed. It's known as the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act.
It now seems that there's even a litmus test in the Democrat campaign for President that taxpayer funding must be provided for abortion throughout pregnancy.
You know, it wasn't that long ago that we had a bipartisan consensus in the Congress and across the country that we shouldn't take the tax dollars of millions of pro-life Americans and use it to fund a procedure that they find morally objectionable. It was the genius that was enshrined decades ago in the Hyde Amendment, named after the legendary pro-life congressman from Illinois, Henry Hyde.
But today, things are different. Even some leading Democrats who supported the Hyde Amendment for decades are now embracing taxpayer funding of abortion at any stage of pregnancy, no exceptions.
You know, I've long believed that a society can be judged by how it deals with its most vulnerable: the aged, the infirmed, the disabled, and the unborn. And so let me say, with so many Democrats standing for late-term abortion and a culture of death, I promise you this President, this party, and this movement will always stand for the unalienable right to life. (Applause.) We will.
So, we've been growing our economy. We've been providing for our national defense. We've been standing up for our values at home and abroad. But men and women of Faith and Freedom, we know there are still challenges that we face as a nation.
And most poignantly in the hearts and minds of Americans today, there is now a broad national realization of what the President and I have been saying for more than a year: We have a crisis on our southern border, and it's like we've never seen before.
We're actually on track, this year, for nearly a million people to come across our southern border to take advantage of loopholes in our laws. And for the first time in history, the majority of them are families that are being enticed by human traffickers who charge them $5,000 a person, by most estimates. They're enticed to pay cash to be taken on the long and dangerous journey north to our border. And it's a dangerous journey fraught with unspeakable violence.
Seventy percent of illegal immigrants, once they present at the border, report being victims of violence along the way. According to Doctors Without Borders, nearly one-third of young women traveling to our southern border from Central America are sexually assaulted on the journey.
And this week, the heart of our nation broke when we saw the tragic photograph of Oscar Alberto Martinez and his 23-month-old daughter Angie Valeria drowned in the Rio Grande. It shocked the conscience of the nation. But the truth is, what we saw then on the front page of every newspaper in America is what's been happening for months. People facing violence, sexual abuse, and worse. Being brought up by people who have no regard for human life, enticing them for their profit to make the dangerous journey north.
I saw it firsthand when I was visiting the border. I went to the detention facility. And to see these families, literally in numbers that have been overwhelming our system, was heartbreaking to me. To think of the way these poor and vulnerable families have been taken advantage of by these cartels and human traffickers was heartbreaking to see.
But the America people are realizing we have a crisis on our southern border. That's why this President declared a national emergency in January. And I'm proud to report we've already started to build that wall. We'll have 400 miles of wall built by the end of next year. (Applause.)
That's why President Trump took a strong stand and demanded that Mexico do more to secure our border and theirs. And thanks to the President's leadership, now Homeland Security projects that, largely owing to Mexico's action, illegal crossings at our southern border are already down by 25 percent in the last month alone. (Applause.)
And that's why after six months where Democrats denied there was a crisis at our border, they denied additional funding for resources to care for the vulnerable families flowing across our border, they denied additional resources for beds or facilities -- President Trump, again, stood strong. And this week our President negotiated a bipartisan bill that, when he signs it on Monday, will speed $4.6 billion in humanitarian aid to support the compassionate work of Health and Human Services and our Customs and Border Protection. (Applause.)
Finally, help is on the way. But, men and women, we still got more work to do. At a time when migrants south of our border are facing violence, sexual assault, and worse, it really is astonishing that many of the leading Democrats running for President continue to advocate open borders and policies that would make it easier for human traffickers to entice vulnerable families to take the long and dangerous journey north. It's true.
For instance, despite the fact that 10 years ago, President Obama promised that Obamacare, in his words, would "not apply to those who are here illegally," this week every major Democrat candidate for President promised to offer free taxpayer-funded health care to illegal immigrants.
AUDIENCE: Booo --
THE VICE PRESIDENT: And many even promised to decriminalize illegal immigration altogether. And maybe most remarkable of all, after spending the last six months denying there was a crisis at our southern border and doing nothing while our courageous and compassionate Customs and Border Protection personnel were overwhelmed by that crisis, now some Democrats want to lecture us about their moral concern for the people caught up in this crisis.
And let me be clear on this point: There's nothing compassionate about open borders. There's nothing compassionate about refusing to change the laws that human traffickers use to take advantage of poor families.
Those who would advocate open borders, free healthcare for illegal immigrants, and making illegal immigration legal are making it easier for human traffickers to mistreat poor and vulnerable families. That is morally wrong, and that has got to stop! (Applause.)
The moral thing to do -- and I believe in my heart of hearts, the compassionate thing to do -- is to secure our border, provide humanitarian support to families that are being exploited by these criminal syndicates, reform our asylum laws, and send a deafening message south of our border that if you want to come to the United States of America, you must come legally or not at all. (Applause.)
And I'll make you a promise: Whatever Democrats want to do to continue to deny and obstruct our efforts to secure our border, end this crisis, and reform laws, we're going to keep working. We're going to keep telling the story. We're going to keep finding allies in Congress and across this country. And we're going to fix this broken immigration system once and for all. (Applause.)
So, men and women, it's amazing to think, in just over two years under this President's leadership, from the world stage to here at home, our values are winning again. Freedom is winning again. But to keep on winning, we've got to keep on fighting.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Four more years! (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: We got to keep on fighting. We got to keep on fighting for the values that have made this country great and for the people that are willing to champion them. I'm here to tell you -- and chief among them is freedom. Chief among them is freedom
You know, America was founded on a very simple principle, and that idea was liberty. Enshrined on the Liberty Bell itself are some ancient words from Leviticus that read, "Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all inhabitants thereof."
It's amazing to think, though, over our lifetimes the support for liberty, the defense of liberty -- of free market economics, of unalienable rights -- has principally, it seems, fallen to our Party and our movement.
Today, Democrats openly advocate an economic system that has impoverished millions around the world and robbed the liberties of generations. That system is socialism.
Earlier this week, we heard leading Democratic candidates for President defend socialism. But I think all of you know it was freedom, not socialism, that gave us the strongest and most prosperous nation in the history of the world. (Applause.)
It was freedom, not socialism, that ended slavery, won two world wars, and stands today as a beacon of hope for all the world! (Applause.)
And so as this debate begins in the next 18 months, we must resolve here to say, as the President said in his State of the Union Address, America will never be a socialist country! (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: USA! USA! USA!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Men and women, the choice in this coming election has never been clearer and the stakes have never been higher. We made great progress in the last two and half years, but now is the time for us to redouble our efforts. Now is the time for us to come alongside the men and women who have been standing up for the values that we cherish, whether that be in statehouses or in the Congress, or making sure that President Donald Trump gets four more years in the White House. (Applause.)
America has got a choice to make. But when I'm gathered in front of all of you tonight and see this incredible group, and think about the work that we've done together over the last several decades to renew and strengthen the foundations of this great nation; when I see the way you've lifted up a generation of men and women, from this President on down, that have been standing strong and without apology on all those great and timeless American ideals, I'm confident. I'm confident that we are going to continue to build on the progress that we've made.
So I encourage all of you to have faith. You're going to have a great evening tonight and I want to get out of your way -- (laughter) -- because you're going to hear from some wonderful people and share some great moments.
But I just do -- I want to encourage all of you as we go into this next 18 months: Have faith. Have faith in the American people that the progress that we've made as a result of the fact that when we take the timeless ideals of this country to our nation -- when we say that America can be strong again, America can be prosperous again, we can build it all on the foundation of faith and freedom upon which our forbearers have stood -- that the American people will rally to our cause.
I truly believe that history shows that every time the American people are given a choice between more freedom and more government, they choose more freedom every single time. So have faith in the American people. (Applause.)
And have faith in this President that they elected. You know, I got to tell you, one of the most amusing words I ever hear, when people will stop me on a rope line, at an airport, or at a diner and they'll say, "Tell the President to keep going." (Applause.) I tell them, "There's something you never need to say." (Laughter and applause.) There is no rearview mirror for President Donald Trump! It's all out the windshield! It's all going forward! This President is going to keep fighting for the values and ideals that are making this country great. (Applause.) I promise you. Am I right? I'm right.
And lastly, as I close, let me encourage you, finally, to have faith in the American people, have faith in this President and all the principled men and women of integrity that have rallied to our cause.
And lastly, have that other kind of faith and take time to avail yourself. You know, the sweetest words the President and I ever hear -- and we hear it a lot -- are when people will reach across a line and grab your hand and --
AUDIENCE MEMBER: We're praying for you!
AUDIENCE MEMBER: We're praying for you!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: -- and say, "We're praying for you." (Applause.) And I can tell you, it moves us deeply. So I want to encourage you to avail yourself, to just know that, as the Bible says, "A prayer reaches heaven, his holy dwelling place." That "the effective and fervent prayer of a righteous [people] availeth much."
And as we think in these divided times in this country about how we heal the division that seems so evident in so many issues, I think I just know that -- you in this room know that -- the wellspring of our national unity has been in our ideals, and it's been in our faith.
And that if His people who are called by His name will humble themselves and pray, He'll do like He's always done through the long and storied history of this country. He'll hear from Heaven and he'll heal this land -- (applause) -- this one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. (Applause.)
So pray for America. Pray for all of the American people, because pray matters and it will make a difference.
So thank you for the honor of addressing you tonight. Thank you for the encouragement that you've given us.
And while I have your attention, on behalf of my wife, who is about a third of a world away right now, let me just say thank you for the great privilege of being your Vice President. It is the greatest honor of my life. (Applause.)
And I just know -- I just know with your continued support and efforts and prayers; with men and women of integrity elected and reelected at every level, statehouse to Capitol Hill; with President Donald Trump in the White House; and with God's help, we will make America more prosperous than ever before. We will make America safer than ever before. And to borrow a phrase -- (laughter) -- we will make America great again.
Thank you all very much. God bless you. And God bless America. (Applause.)