CLAY: We’re joined now by former vice president, Mike Pence, who’s got a new book out that is being well received. And, as we start with you, Mr. Vice President — I appreciate you giving us the time. We’ve been talking, Fauci’s just bad —
VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: You bet, guys. Thanks for having me on.
VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Yeah.
CLAY: — as he is in the process of retiring. I’m sure you knew that that was going on. We were just talking about it. Everything in hindsight is often 20/20. In retrospect, what could you and the Trump White House have done better to not allow Dr. Fauci to — what I think is, quite frankly — drive us right off the cliff of insanity in terms of how we should respond to covid? He said that people should still feel very proud if they’re wearing masks. He said that as you get ready to gather with Thanksgiving family that continuing to get covid tests could make sense. Those are just some of the things he said not years ago, but just a few minutes ago at the White House.
VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Right.
VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Well, first, just let me say what a privilege it is to be on with both of you. A great fan of the show —
CLAY: Thank you.
VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: — and was honored to have the opportunity to write my autobiography, So Help Me God, that came out about a week ago. It’s a story of growing up here in Indiana. It’s a story of being raised by a combat veteran and a first generation Irish-American — starting out as a Democrat, joining the Republican Revolution — and then through decisions that I made, beginning with the decision to put my faith in Jesus Christ, the decision to marry Karen Pence — we were able to serve and advance the conservative agenda in the Congress and in the governorship here in Indiana and then as vice president.
I’m incredibly proud of the record of our administration, and I’m proud of what the American people accomplished during covid, guys. There’s a couple of chapters in my book, one of which is entitled Only in America, where I really pay tribute to the extraordinary compassion of our health care workers, the extraordinary generosity and innovation of American businesses. I mean, from the time I was tapped to lead the White House Coronavirus Task Force, guys, I was really inspired by what the American people were doing. But in those early days when I was became the leader of the White House Corona Virus Task Force, it was a fairly small group.
The president organized it a month earlier, and it included Dr. Tony Fauci and some other medical experts that would grow. But one of the first decisions that I made was to add the secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Agriculture — Larry Kudlow on our economic team — because I knew that the advice that we were going to give the president could not just be the advice of the clinical doctors. It had to be balanced and take in the whole interest of the American people. And as I write in So Help Me God, you know, in those early days, I know that Dr. Fauci…
When we didn’t know what was coming, when we didn’t understand the disease and Americans were anxious. We were reinventing testing, we were manufacturing billions of supplies and over 100,000 ventilators in 100 days. I think in those early days, Dr. Fauci was a comfort to millions of Americans, and he always stayed in his lane. That’s how I put it in my book. I mean, he was invariably the first person to say, “Look, I’ll give you the scientist’s perspective, but I understand the president’s got to consider a lot more,” and that was one of the reasons why one month into our efforts to essentially buy time and slow the spread, we worked to open up America again in states like Georgia and Florida led the way, but —
BUCK: Mike, when did you realize, though, that Fauci was actually a partisan and the absolute worst and hoping to deep six the presidency that you were a part of?
VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Well, early on, I must tell you, I didn’t perceive it that way. In fact, I thought President Trump and Fauci as a couple of old New Yorkers had a had a good working relationship. But things began to shift, you know, toward the end. And I must tell you, it grieves my heart that the Biden administration lost more Americans in their first year with covid — with all of the tools that we left behind, including vaccines, more Americans — than we lost in our first year when we, for the most part, had none of those tools.
But I do think it was part and parcel of the Biden administration essentially putting Dr. Fauci in charge of the national response. You know, there’s the old saying that, you know, when you’re holding a hammer, everything’s a nail. And I wasn’t I wasn’t surprised that the Biden administration abandoned our commitment to therapeutics, abandoned our commitment to opening up states around the country, and largely turned all of its focus on vaccines and ultimately and wrongly mandated (chuckles) vaccines for Americans.
That was partially turned aside by the conservative majority on the Supreme Court. So, as I said, I think, you know, it was it saddens me that the Biden administration, in so many ways, squandered the progress that we made. And putting Dr. Fauci in the lead of the Biden administration’s response, I think explains their focus on concentrating everything in Washington, concentrating everything on vaccines — ultimately mandating vaccines — instead of taking the whole of America, federalist approach that we took in our administration.
BUCK: We’re speaking to former vice president Mike Pence who’s got a new book out, So Help Me God. Vice President Pence, tell us this. You know, the midterm election, there were some bright spots.
VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Yeah.
BUCK: There were the votes in the aggregate, but there wasn’t the Red Wave that we needed. And it seemed that there were a number of points of… “Failure” might be too strong a word for some people, but I think for others it’s not strong enough. Clearly there were some problems; in some places, we came up short.
VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Yeah.
BUCK: How do we fix that?
VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Well, guys, look, there… (sigh) Thanks for saying that. You’re the first…. (laughs) You’re the first show. Not surprisingly, that said that there was a Red Wave some places. I mean, you look at the governors’ reelections in places like Texas and Florida and in Georgia, where they had probably the most formidable Democrat candidate in the country, and Stacey Abrams way raised $100 million and Governor Brian Kemp, you know, won decisively in the fall. And my friend Lee Zeldin came up short in New York. But he actually brought with him four new Republicans elected to Congress from his state of New York.
That could be our new margin of a Republican majority. So, I really do believe there were there were pockets, there were places. And the common denominator to me, guys, is that, you know, candidates that were focused on the future, that were focused on the challenges facing the American people today — which are border security and crime and record inflation and high gasoline prices, candidates that were focused on the future — did quite well. But candidly, those campaigns that were focused on the past, including relitigating the past, did not fare as well.
CLAY: We’re talking to former vice president Mike Pence, his book out last week, So Help Me God. Donald Trump announced on Tuesday of last week, same day your book came out. In the evening, he announced that he was going to be running for president 2024. I know that there were several people speaking out in Las Vegas who might be interested in potentially running in 2024 as well. You are among those. When would you think is the right time for you to officially decide if you are or are not going to run in 2024? What kind of timeline do you have in terms of making that decision?
VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Well, first I’m always humbled to be asked and of early in my career — as I write in the book, So Help Me God — back in 2010, I had (garbled cell) for national office. I ultimately prayed through it with my wife, spoke to friends, and we felt called to come home here to Indiana and serve as governor of this great state. And that decision was one of the great honors of my life and led to opportunities to serve as your vice president as well. So, what I can tell you is that with two in active duty military in our immediate family, we actually haven’t been together for the last three years.
But this Christmas, everybody is going to be home in Indiana, and Karen and I are going to take time — as we always have — to sit down with our kids, their spouses and talk to friends and continue to listen to the American people. And I always tell people there’s two kinds of people in politics. There’s people that are driven and people that are called. And if you read So Help Me God, you’ll hear that I’ve been both. I’ve let my ambition get ahead of my values in the past and the way that, as a Christian, I feel called to represent myself in the public square. But for the last 20 years, we’ve tried to follow a calling, guys, and so we’re going to pray through it, give it careful consideration. And sometime after the first of the year, we’ll just discern what our next calling might be. But I promise to keep Clay Travis and Buck Sexton posted.
CLAY: I appreciate that.
BUCK: Thank you.
CLAY: As part of that, do think Joe Biden will run, do you think he should run for reelection, and does his choice in any way impact your own choice?
VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Well, the thing I’ll tell you emphatically is Joe Biden and Kamala Harris should not be reelected (laughing) as president and vice president.
CLAY: No doubt.
VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Guys, I knew they’d be bad. I didn’t know they’d be this bad, this fast. But then again, you know, I mean, literally from day one. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have been dismantling the very policies that created the prosperity, the border security, the strength of our economy that we had in those first three years of the Trump-Pence administration. Literally a gusher of spending that launched the worst inflation in 40 years, a war on energy after we achieved energy independence that has now set in motion the gasoline prices through the we’re going into a Thanksgiving weekend.
And of course, I’ve been down to the southern border in Arizona many times in the last two years. Five million people have come into this country illegally in the last two years after we had reduced illegal immigration by 90%. So, you know, whatever President Biden decides to do (chuckles) and whatever we decide to do, I’m going to be working my heart out (chuckles) to make sure that that we do not get four more years of the disastrous record of the Biden-Harris administration. We’ve got a good start in the House of Representatives with a new Republican majority. But the next step is to win the Senate, win the White House, win statehouses around the country, and I believe we will. I think we’re at the beginning of a great American comeback.
BUCK: The book is So Help Me God. Vice President Pence, the author. Sir, appreciate you being with us. We’ll talk to you soon.
VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Guys, thanks for having me on. I so appreciate it. We’ll talk again soon.
BUCK: Yes, sir.