Vice President’s Residence
12:36 P.M. EST
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you. Thank you all for being here. This is a day that we look forward to every year. And if you are a — how many of you is this your first time in the Vice President’s Residence? Ours, too. (Laughter.) So welcome.
As your Vice President, but as a former governor and first lady of the great state of Indiana, it’s really a joy for us to be able to gather with those of you that are leading our state with such distinction. Some of you we actually had the chance to serve with, and we know your quality. Some of you are new friends, but I want to extend the warmest greetings to each and every one of you. And just to — honestly, just to say thank you.
We understand the job. And hopefully, today and in the course of this weekend, as you make your way to the White House for what will be a very memorable evening Sunday night, a working meeting on Monday morning, I hope you also leave here knowing the great respect that our family has for each one of you.
And I also bring greetings from a man who I know appreciates the leadership of governors all across this nation. I bring greetings from the 45th President of the United States, President Donald Trump. And he wanted me to thank each and every one of you for (inaudible). (Applause.)
And if you like the food, if you like the hospitality, I’ll give you a chance to say thanks to the woman who insisted, right after we were first elected, to start this tradition with the National Governors Association. She’s extended the hospitality here to you and your families. Join me in thanking the Second Lady of the United States. (Applause.)
She did. She said, right after we were elected, she heard about the NGA weekend coming up and all the governors in town, and she said, “Well, we got to have them over here.” (Laughter.) Because we never got invited (inaudible). (Laughter.) There just wasn’t a tradition. (Laughter.) But I’m so proud of her for opening this special place to each and every one of you. And I hope it makes for a great memory.
And let me also thank — one of the great things — and I really enjoyed my time as governor of Indiana, and I also really especially appreciated the work of the National Governors Association. I know there’ll be meetings of the different party organizations of governors; those are great value. But I always thought that the NGA was really a very special forum that was emblematic of how governors actually really operate.
And, you know, there’s that old proverb that “Iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” And I always found that the time at the NGA was the time to really share best practices and ideas, find matters of common cause and purpose which are not hard to find when you’re leading a state. And when you look across state boundaries, they’re often dealing the exact same issues that people around the country are dealing with.
So I really want to say thanks to the National Governors Association; and specifically to our friend, your Chairman, Governor Steve Bullock; and also to your Vice Chair, Governor Larry Hogan. Thank you so much for — (applause) — being here, making this happen. It means a lot.
Steve is going to have a word in just a minute and — after I finish off. But we really appreciate you all including this in the NGA schedule. It’s a great honor for us, and hopefully is evidence, to each and every one of you, of the spirit with which this administration approaches the work that each and every one of you do every single day.
Let me thank one other group. Karen already did a great job doing it a second ago, but, I mean, to know the President and the First Family, to know the Pences and the Second Family, I think you can tell we serve as a family. And I think, particularly in a role of being a governor and being a first family of a state and territory, we know that the weight of this responsibility is borne as much by the spouses in the room, who are gathered here today. So let me just say thank you to all of the spouses who are here, the first ladies, and —
MRS. PENCE: First gentlemen. (Laughter.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: — the first gentlemen who are with us today. Let’s have a round of applause for each and every one of them. (Applause.)
Today is really just about fellowship and encouragement, and hopefully you’ll have a chance to walk the grounds a little bit and see this place. The history of it is really unique. The first Second Family to live here were the Mondales and, in fact, Vice President Mondale and I were speaking about the memories… (Laughter and applause.) All right. You can applaud him. The great public servant. The great public servant.
I got a chance to spend some time with him when he was at the Capitol Building not long ago. But we talked about how his family really inaugurated what has become an incredible tradition.
And before you leave, I might point you in the direction, just right out the front door — if you walk a little bit that way, you’ll see a garden that literally commemorates all of the Second Families who have lived here and the extended families, and the children, and the grandchildren, and those families.
And it’s hard for me to describe to you, as a former governor and a friend to so many in the room, just how humbling it is for us to serve here and to have the privilege of being here.
But if the house looks like it might be a little bit older than the ’70s, you’re right. (Laughter.) It was actually built in the late 19th century as the commandant’s residence here. You’re actually on a naval base. This is the Naval Observatory, which is a working naval base. And — but in the 1970s this became the official residence of the Vice President of the United States.
And it is a — it’s not a place that a lot of people get around to be able to see it. It’s an honor for us to live here, and it’s an honor for us to welcome all of you here, and I hope you leave with good memories.
Let me also say, I hope you’ve seen, in the last two years, those of you that have served during that period of time, that this is an administration led by a President who truly believes in state-based flexibility, innovation, and reform. We believe in our governors and we believe in our state governments. (Applause.)
The President actually referred to it as — I think at the very first meeting of the NGA, Steve, he said that his ambition was “to have a true partnership of collaboration and cooperation” with America’s governors, and we’ve worked to do just that.
And for some of you newcomers, you can talk to the folks that have been at it awhile, but we’re proud of the fact that we’ve worked with states to promote flexibility on healthcare, to give a greater voice to states in land management. Obviously, we’ve worked very closely with state leadership in combating the scourge of opioid abuse and addiction that so many of you have led with distinction on. We worked to open up our natural resources to responsible development.
And I’ll make you a promise — and we’ll ask for your help — that, in this Congress, we’re going to pass historic infrastructure legislation that will rebuild the roads and bridges and infrastructure of America. (Applause.)
The governors will play a leading role in that. And I have to tell you, if you haven’t noticed, the American people elected a builder to be President, and he wants to rebuild the infrastructure of this country. And we’re already in discussions with leaders in both political parties in the Congress, but since it will be states that deploy those resources and implement that infrastructure, we need your voices at the table about what those needs are.
And let me make you a promise as governors as well: Not only are we going to look to make a historic investment in infrastructure, but we’re looking to cut back the red tape so that we can rebuild America’s infrastructure faster and more efficiently with governors and states in the lead, making that happen. Okay? (Applause.)
But lastly, in addition to all of that type of partnership — and there are great friends in the room who have seen their states and their territories through great challenges in the last two years — I hope you all know how proud we are of the leadership that our governors have provided during times of natural disasters. We’re awfully proud of Homeland Security, the efforts of FEMA stepping up in those times. And I just want you to know that we’re going to continue to work hand in glove with your administrations, whether it’s the hurricane winds blowing, whether it’s historic snowfall, we’re here —
PARTICIPANT: Why you looking at me? (Laughter.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Charlie Baker was in office for 15 minutes when he got about 15 feet of snow and did a phenomenal job for the people of Massachusetts. I remember it well.
But we’re here to partner with you. We’re a phone call away because we know it’s those moments — it’s those moments that — and people don’t call Washington, D.C.; they call local law enforcement and first responders. They call their state officials and leaders. And that’s when you step into the gap and lead. And we’re here to partner with you and stand with you. And that’s our solemn pledge to each and every one of you.
So with that, let me let us get back to just good fellowship again. It’s an honor for Karen and me to be able to welcome you all here, really, to pay a debt of gratitude as well to the job that each and every one of you do. I hope you leave here with confidence in the gratitude and the respect of the President, his Vice President, our entire administration for the job that you do, the burden that you bear, and the way that you serve the people of your great state and the people of this great nation with real honor every day.
So God bless you in your continued leadership. And it’s an honor to be with you all. Thank you so much. (Applause.)
With that, it’s my honor to introduce the Chairman of the National Governors Association, Governor Steve Bullock. Steve, welcome, and thank you so much for coming. (Applause.)
12:47 P.M. EST