Vice President Mike Pence says ‘violence must stop’ in Kenosha

Vice President Mike Pence wraps up the third day of the Republican National Convention. 
Screenshot from RNC livestream.

Vice President Mike Pence wraps up the third day of the Republican National Convention. Screenshot from RNC livestream.

In an address Wednesday night to the Republican National Convention, Mike Pence formally accepted his party’s nomination for a second term as vice president. From Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Pence commended the administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and echoed Trump’s pro-police message.   

“Four years ago, I answered the call to join this ticket because I knew that Donald Trump had the leadership and vision to make America great again,” Pence said. “So with gratitude for the confidence President Donald Trump has placed in me, the support of the Republican party and the grace of God, I humbly accept your nomination to run and serve as vice president of the United States.” 

Pence praised the work accomplished throughout the last three years of his administration, calling particular attention to the economy. 

“In our first three years, we built the greatest economy in the world. We made America great again,” Pence said. “And then the coronavirus struck from China.”

Trump’s decision to suspend all travel from China in the beginning phases of the pandemic “saved untold American lives” and bought time to mobilize a national response, Pence said. 

“President Trump marshaled the full resources of the American government at the outset. He directed us to form a seamless partnership with governors across America in both political parties,” Pence said. 

Pence was propelled into the national spotlight earlier this year, when Trump appointed him chair of the coronavirus task force. With the coronavirus expeditiously spreading throughout the country, the high-profile assignment presented an opportunity for Pence to showcase his unswerving fidelity to the commander in chief. 

Pence — who in recent weeks has encouraged the public to wear masks — stewards weekly meetings with the nation’s governors, hosts supply chain meetings and holds regular task force briefings. The vice president has reportedly kept a “cheery demeanor”, even though the U.S. has one of the highest daily death rates per capita, regularly reporting more than 1,000 new deaths due to the pandemic per day. More than 5.6 million Americans have been diagnosed with the coronavirus and more than 175,000 have died of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. 

Approval of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic is 40% among registered Wisconsin voters, according to a Marquette University Law School poll. 

As the crowd cheered, “Four more years,” Pence made the case for reopening the nation, especially schools. 

“We’re not just opening America again, we’re opening up America’s schools,” Pence said. “And I’m happy to report that my wife Karen, a schoolteacher, will be returning to her classroom next week.” 

Second lady Karen Pence teaches art two days a week at Immanuel Christian School in Springfield, Virginia. 

In bolstering the nationwide push to reopen schools for in-person learning, the White House formally declared teachers essential workers. Pence said in the announcement that the designation would assist teachers with PPE and additional support.

“To all our heroic teachers and faculty and staff, thank you for being there for our kids. We are going to stay with you every step of the way,” Pence said. 

Pence expressed gratitude for other essential workers and frontline workers. 

“Our country doesn’t get through such a time unless its people find strength within. The response of doctors, nurses, first responders, farmers, factory workers, truckers and everyday Americans who put the health and safety of their neighbors first has been nothing short of heroic,” he said. 

The former governor of Indiana also offered his condolences to the families who had lost loved ones to the coronavirus. 

“Tonight our hearts are with all the families who have lost loved ones and have family members still struggling with serious illness. In this country, we mourn with those who mourn, we grieve with those who grieve,” Pence said. 

Later in his speech, Pence addressed the violence in Kenosha following the police shooting of Jacob Blake. 

“In the midst of this global pandemic, just as our nation has begun to recover, we’ve seen violence and chaos in the streets of our major cities,” Pence said. “The violence must stop. Whether in Minneapolis, Portland, or Kenosha. Too many heroes have died defending our freedom to see Americans strike each other down.” 

To a standing ovation, Pence championed a return to law and order. 

“We will have law and order on the streets of this country for every American, of every race and creed and color,” Pence said.

Pence suggested the American public has been force-fed a false dichotomy: the choice between support of the police and support of people of color.

“The American people know we don’t have to choose between supporting law enforcement and standing with our African American neighbors,” Pence said.

The vice president repeated the misleading claim that Joe Biden supports defunding the police.

“When asked whether he’d support cutting funding to law enforcement, [Biden] replied, ‘Yes, absolutely,’” Pence said.

Pence said the administration will continue to support those who “stand on the thin blue line”.

“We are not going to defund the police. Not now, not ever,” Pence said.

This story was written by Lelah Byron. She can be reached at lelah.byron@marquettte.edu.