2:27 P.M. EDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: To Governor Holcomb, thank you for those overly generous words. You have known me too long to believe them. (Laughter.) But I couldn’t be more proud of the job Governor Eric Holcomb and First Lady Janet Halcomb are doing for the state of Indiana. (Applause.)
And to my friend, Jim Atterholt, my chief of staff here at the State House, thank you for your efforts in putting together this incredible reunion. And thank you for your integrity, and thank you for your ongoing service to the people of Indiana. Jim, you are a cherished friend, and you are loadstar of what service to the people of Indiana really means. Thank you. (Applause.)
On behalf of my family, my extended family, my mom, and all the people of the Pence team who have come near and far to be with us today, it is great to be back home again. (Applause.)
I want to thank so many distinguished public officials who are here. Senator Todd Young, thank you for joining us today, for your great leadership in Washington. Congressman Luke Messer; Congressman Todd Rokita; Lieutenant Governor Crouch and former Lieutenant Governor Ellspermann; Speaker Brian Bosman, my great partner in this general assembly; Senator David Long, President Pro Tem of the Senate; Auditor Klutz; Attorney General Hill; Superintendent McCormick; and I see all these great members of the best state legislature in America. Would you give all these public officials a great, great round of applause? (Applause.)
And I’m so touched to be here by so many long-term members of our team, most of which we have taken to Washington with us. (Laughter.) People like Jennifer Pavlik and Matt Lloyd, Lani Czarniecki, and others. I’m grateful to you all. I’m grateful for your ongoing service to the country. And to my dear friend, Bill Smith, my former chief of staff who is with us here today; Mark Ahearn, Micah Vincent, and others. It’s deeply moving to share this moment with you.
And to my extended family — and to know the Pence family is to know a big family — my brother Greg, who is with us today with his wonderful wife Denise; my brother Ed and his wife Kim; Annie and her daughter Gracie; my father-in-law Bernie; my mother’s husband, Basil; and to my incredible mom, Nancy Pence-Fritsch, who inspires me every day and is so responsible for this day. (Applause.) And, of course, I’ll mention her more in just a moment, but to be joined here today by at least one out of three of our great kids, our youngest daughter Audrey Pence who is with us today. And to my incredible wife of 32 years, the Second Lady of the United States of America, Karen Pence. Thanks for getting us here. (Applause.)
I stand before you today deeply humbled — deeply humbled to be able to continue to serve this state as the 48th Vice President of the United States. And I owe it all — I owe it all to the confidence of the 45th President of the United States, President Donald Trump. And he wanted me to tell the great people of Indiana that he said hello and wanted to thank you for this great honor — for his running mate. (Applause.)
But I owe this moment to my family — my immediate family and my extended family. Mostly, I owe this moment to the good people of Indiana. Words really cannot describe the honor it has been to serve the people of this state. You know, I grew up the grandson of an Irish immigrant who came to this country when he was about my son’s age, in his 20s. And he raised that precocious redhead at the end of the stage. And she and my late father lived the American Dream.
I grew up in a little house in Columbus, Indiana on 31st street — a little cornfield in the backyard that’s still there to this day. And we were all raised to believe that anybody can be anybody in this country; that if you work hard, pray harder, if you look after your family, you grab your dreams, the sky is the limit. But it’s to my family, to their legacy, and it’s to the people of Indiana that I came today to say thank you — to say thank you for the opportunities that you’ve given me to serve; the support that you continue to give me and my family through your encouraging words and most especially your prayers.
And let me say that wherever we go in our lives and our service for the next seven-and-a-half years as Vice President of the United States or beyond — (applause) — I want the people of Indiana to know that you’re always in our hearts, and the depth of our gratitude is inexpressible for the privileges and opportunities you’ve given us to serve.
Now, for a word about this portrait. I just wanted you to know a few things about it. And maybe, Governor Holcomb, you can have the tour guides mention this when they’re passing through. First off, let me just say I do have more than one tie. (Laughter and applause.) But I’ll explain in just a few moments why I wore it again today.
First, let me just express a debt of gratitude to those that have gone before. It’s deeply humbling for me to think that this image will be added to a historic collection here at the State House. I’ve had the privilege to know many of my predecessors, and I consider them all my betters, Republican or Democrat notwithstanding.
Today, I want to honor Governor Whitcomb, Governor Bowen, Governor Orr, Governor Bayh, Governor O’Bannon, Governor Kernan, and Governor Daniels. It is my great honor to join them in this pantheon of public service in the state of Indiana. We honor their service today. (Applause.) Eric, I often thought, as I came to work in the morning, of that verse in the Old Book that says you’re surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. So I hope you feel the same when you’re coming into the office. (Laughter.)
Secondly, I want to thank this extraordinary artist, Mark Dillman, and to no less extent, his wife, Lynn, who was his full partner in this effort. We interviewed a fair number of great artists, and then I talked to a guy who was a Southsider — from the Southside of Indianapolis — and we just immediately bonded. Mark told me he’d been following my career long before it was successful. (Laughter.)
And, Mark, I have to tell you, I’m inspired by your gifts and I want to thank you publicly for your efforts in putting together this extraordinary portrait. Would you thank Mark for me? (Applause.) Mark told me he wanted it to be his best one ever. And given what you had to work with, I think it is. (Laughter.)
The portrait is really just about paying tribute to all those that are not the subject of the portrait. First, the flags. The flags are my tribute to the great Americans and the great Hoosiers I’ve had the privilege to serve. When I took my oath of office just out on the West steps on a cold day in January, I took my oath of office on a verse that’s a prayer. And that prayer is, “Give [me] a discerning heart to distinguish between right and wrong; for who is able to govern this great people of yours?” And I always thought that was a particularly apt verse for the people of Indiana. It is my great honor to serve the great people of Indiana. And the flag in this portrait and the American flag are my tribute to them.
Secondly, just to the side of me, you might see a short stack of books. And that’s really a tribute to my folks. One gone and one still the apple of my eye. Mark was able to recreate a short stack of law books that I inherited from my dad. And there’s a great story about my dad actually went to one semester of law school, but he had to drop out because he met this redhead and he figured he better get on with his life and go make a living. But those law books now are in the Vice President’s House in Washington, D.C., but they’re the tribute to my parents — because we all stand on the shoulders of those who went before, and everything I am is owing to the sacrifices, the successes, and the efforts of my dad, Ed Pence, and my wonderful mother, Nancy Pence-Fritsch. (Applause.)
And the kids, you can see them in the picture. That was behind my credenza when I was governor, when I was a congressman, and now it’s in the West Wing of the White House. And it’s one of those pictures your kids just don’t like anymore because they’re all so little and cute. (Laughter.) But I’ll tell you, I just got one of them here, our wonderful daughter Audrey. But from that very first campaign when they were five, six, and seven, and we headed out to county fairs and started shaking hands, to this very day, these three and now our new wonderful daughter-in-law have held up my arms and kept their dad grounded and humble every step of the way. So, Audrey, Charlotte, Michael, thank you. (Applause.) I love you. (Applause.)
And second-to-last, there’s multiple tributes to the last person I will mention. The tie that I wear was designed by the First Lady of Indiana, and I thought it was the right tie to wear in this portrait. My wife Karen is an accomplished artist that during her years as First Lady of Indiana, she was an extraordinary champion not only for the arts but for children. She helped found the art therapy program at Riley Children’s Hospital, and now she’s made it an international cause as Second Lady of the United States. Her artwork around my neck is not the only tribute to my wife. She’s featured in the photograph, of course, with the children.
But I’ll tell you one other little secret. When Mark and Lynn came to Washington to take some pictures for this portrait, Mark had me leaning against something and arms folded, and I was completely uncomfortable. And Karen came down — I think she must have sensed that things weren’t going well. So she came downstairs and said, “How’s it going?” And she stood behind Lynn as she was taking a picture, and she snapped a picture of me looking at my wife. It was just one. And when all the pictures came back, the consensus choice of everyone was the smile on Mike’s face when he was looking at Karen. Thank you for putting that smile on my face. (Applause.) Thank you for bringing us here. (Applause.) Thank you for being the love of my life.
And lastly, I want to give glory to God for the opportunities in my small life. It’s incredibly humbling to me and hard to describe what it was like to step on to the floor of the Congress; what it was like the day I took my oath of office as the 50th governor; or what it was like to stand on that platform in January as the latest Hoosier Vice President. It is evidence — interestingly, I think — of exactly the verse that Pastor Vroegop prayed, a verse that I mentioned at that national convention, Governor Holcomb, that I often think, who am I, and who is my family that you brought me this far?
And the little book to the right-hand side of me there is a copy of a well-worn Bible that sat on my desk as governor all throughout my years. It’s the one I took my oath of office on, and I just wanted to make sure that, years from now, schoolkids might be passing through the governor’s office, they might glance, and they might see in one portrait that we honored the people that we served and the flags that represent the state and the nation. That we honored our parents, without whom we would not be here. That we honored a family, without which we never would have spent a day in public service. And that we honored God and the foundation that he poured in our life and the sustaining grace that continues to support us this day.
And so I thank you all for being here. Thank you for hearing my musings about this in this too emotional of a moment. In just a few hours, we’ll head back to Washington, D.C. to continue to stand by a President who is making America great again every single day. (Applause.)
But as I leave, it just blesses our hearts to think that this portrait will be hanging where our hearts will always be, where the moon shines bright upon the Wabash. And until we come back home again, I pray that God will continue to bless the great state of Indiana and all who go by the name Hoosier.
God bless you all for being here, and God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)
2:47 P.M. EDT