Pence talks Turkey, abortion, Trumponomics, trade and the Supreme Court

GOP vice presidential nominee Mike Pence stopped by the NewsHour’s Cleveland digs a day after his primetime debut and went about making the case for Donald Trump. Pence laid out Trump’s positions on NATO, the failed Turkey coup and economy. When Judy Woodruff asked the social conservative about Trump and abortion, he said, “I appreciate Donald Trump’s pro-life views.”

Read the Full Transcript


    And earlier today, I sat down with the vice presidential nominee, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, here in the Cleveland in the arena for an in-depth interview about the convention, the race ahead, and how his own views match up, or don't, with those of the man who chose him.

    Governor Mike Pence, congratulations on your nomination to be vice president.

    GOV. MIKE PENCE, (R-IN), Vice Presidential Candidate: Thank you, Judy. We're very humbled.


    In your speech last night, I don't think there were very many dry eyes when you gestured up in the stands to your mother.


    Or mine.


    And you said you thanked her, you went on to talk about your family, about growing up. What was that moment like?


    It was very emotional, very emotional.

    My grandfather emigrated to this country. My mom grew up in a family of immigrants. And just to think that I could walk out on the stage and accept my party's nomination for vice president of the United States, and be able to share that moment with my mother and with my wonderful wife, our three children, was almost inexpressible.


    Speaking of family, the other — one of the other major speakers last night was Senator Ted Cruz, who, in saying why he's not endorsing Donald Trump, cited his own family.

    He said he could not bring himself to support somebody who had criticized his wife and his father. And he's referring, of course, to Donald Trump saying his father was involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

    Do you understand why this is a hard thing for Ted Cruz?


    Senator Ted Cruz is my friend. And I'm glad he came to the Republican National Convention.

    I was glad we also heard from Marco Rubio, and Chris Christie and a great speech from Scott Walker.

    But I recognize primaries are difficult things. We had a field of outstanding candidates. And primaries get a little bit rough. And it takes some time for people to get beyond those things, Judy.

    But I really appreciate the fact that he came, that he congratulated Donald Trump on winning the Republican nomination. And then he expressed support for our shared conservative values.

    And I think, as time goes on, that you are going to continue to see more and more Republicans, independents, and many Democrats rally to that cause. And we're going to elect Donald Trump as the next president of the United States.


    You have said some very — as you are now, very complimentary things about Donald Trump.

    It's also the case that you have spent virtually your entire life as a deep believer in Christian values, Christian conservative values. That has not been a centerpiece of Donald Trump's campaign. Do you think you are going to be able, with your own beliefs, to persuade him on issues like LGBT rights, on — I don't know, on the issue of abortion? Do you think you can change his views in those areas?


    Well, I think Donald Trump is pro-life.

    And I believe in the sanctity of life, and we have had some heart-to-heart conversations about the Supreme Court of the United States and about the importance of making sure that our next president appoints justices to the Supreme Court who will not only uphold the rule of law, but will — that will advance the principles enshrined in the Constitution of the United States.

    I'm grateful for Donald Trump's pro-life views. And I'm grateful that he's expressed those views so publicly and openly. And, look, the American people know that there are issues that divide us very quickly, and they're issues that are often matters of the heart for every American.

    But the challenges facing our country today, I think, have even more even to do with America's place in the world, with a struggling economy that isn't producing the jobs that Americans long to see, with the kind of economic policies that seem to have other countries winning and America losing.

    Donald Trump is speaking about those issues, Judy, and I think that's why not only do you see tremendous unity in the Republican Party, but you see a lot of independents and a lot of Democrats that are being drawn to this movement. And I'm excited about the chance to continue to carry that message across the country.


    Well, speaking about America's role in the world, let me ask you about foreign policy.

    Donald Trump gave an interview to The New York Times this week in which, among other things, he said, if Russia attacked one of the small Baltic nations, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, that he would come to their aid only after reviewing their commitment to NATO, whether they fulfill their obligations to us, as he put it.

    This is a departure not only from Republican Party views, but from what is really mainstream foreign policy thinking in this country. It's been supported by a majority of American presidents going back to, I'm told, Harry Truman.

    What do you say today to the citizens of these NATO countries about whether the U.S. is prepared to come to their aid?


    Donald Trump made it clear in that very interview that America will stand by our allies. We will uphold up our treaty obligations, including the mutual defense agreement that is NATO.

    But what Donald Trump has also said — and quite apart from the fact that America keeps its word and you can tell Donald Trump keeps his word — that what we're also going to do is say to our allies around the world, as we face $19 trillion in national debt, that it's time for them to start to pay their fair share.

    We provide an enormous amount of resources, particularly with regard to military resources, to countries all over the world. And in many cases, those countries are not compensating the American taxpayer for the commitment that we're making to their security.


    Doesn't this inject a note doubt about whether the U.S. is going to be there when they need support?



    No. No, Judy, I think — I don't read The New York Times every day, but I think that article actually said that — he said we would absolutely, was the word that he used, absolutely stand by our allies and stand by our treaty obligations.

    But that's not — it's a separate question, but it's just as important, that we don't continue to burden the taxpayers of America with these commitments all across the globe, that we say to other countries with whom we stand in solidarity in their defense and the defense of their freedom, that we need you to partner with us.

    I mean, it's been a long time since NATO was created, and I also think Donald Trump has spoken very wisely about the need to rethink the mission of NATO.




    It was a Cold War alliance, but now we face, in many ways, a more asymmetrical threat, with the rise of radical Islamic terrorism.

    And rethinking NATO's mission and its ability to confront that threat to our freedom is just as important.


    He made a couple of other points in the article, one having to do with Turkey, where there has been enormous turmoil recently, an attempted coup.

    He said he didn't believe the U.S. should try to pressure the president of Turkey, who has been rounding people up, imprisoning people, shutting down news organizations.

    Where are you in terms of whether the United States should be supporting and espousing democratic values, small-D democratic values, in other countries that are going through a situation like this?


    Well, I don't think we have to choose between standing by a strategic ally and articulating our commitment to democracy and individual freedom.

    We have done that throughout our history. And with regard to Turkey, I have been to Ankara. Turkey is a democracy. We certainly, we certainly, in the future, ought to encourage our ally to live up to their own democratic institutions and their own democratic ideals.

    But make no mistake about it. With the rise of Islamic terrorism, radical Islamic terrorism in the world — excuse me — with the rise of ISIS, our alliance with Turkey is more important than ever before, the ability to have access, to move resources into the region and also, most importantly, to engage Turkey fully in the battle against global terrorism, is — about protecting the American people.

    So, absolutely, yes, we should stand by our allies, but we should also stand by our ideals and work with our allies and encourage them to live up to the democratic institutions and traditions that they enjoy.


    You have long been a proponent of free trade.


    Still am.


    But how do you square that his saying he would scrap NAFTA and other treaties in a second, unless he could make sure that countries like Canada and Mexico do something to benefit American companies?


    I support free trade. Donald Trump supports free trade.

    Trade means jobs. Jobs in the United States, jobs in my home state of Indiana are supported by international exports. But it doesn't mean that we don't work hard to make sure that those are good deals. And NAFTA itself has a provision in it that called for periodic reviews of the economies of the countries who had signed the treaty to ensure that the deal was working for everybody.

    And what I hear Donald Trump saying about that deal and about other trade deals is, let's just keep looking and let's just make sure that, as we continue to — as we continue to expand our economic relationships with countries around the region and around the world, that we're doing it in a way that's a win for the American worker and for American jobs.


    Last question.

    A lot of, I should say, the talk at this convention from the stage and from the delegates has been pretty harsh criticism of Hillary Clinton. We have heard, "Lock her up." We have heard — we have seen the signs, "Hillary to prison," talk of indicting her.

    Is this — you're somebody who's been outspoken against negative campaigning. Do you think it's been over the top, as even some Republicans have said? And do you think it's been a wasted opportunity, so far, to talk about what's positive about Donald Trump?


    Well, first, I think that's what freedom looks like.

    The American people get to express themselves, and in the ways that they choose. But I have got to tell you, I — this convention, I have sensed a tremendous amount of energy, a tremendous amount of unity, not around the personalities, but around the choice that we face this fall.

    In Donald Trump, you have someone who will bring real change to Washington, D.C. He's a bold leader. He's distinctly American. He doesn't play by the old-fashioned rules. He's going to Washington, D.C., break up the status quo, and I believe get this economy moving again and have America standing tall in the world.

    And Hillary Clinton, by contrast, is the very embodiment of the failed status quo that Republicans, Democrats and independents are tired of and weary of. Now, I want to be clear.


    But for the last three nights, "Lock her up" has been a refrain we have been hearing.


    People are frustrated, $19 trillion in national debt that just hasn't been piled up by Democrat administrations. It's been nearly doubled under this administration.

    But, frankly, you know Judy — you have known me for a long time — I have battled against the big spenders in my own party, back when I was in Congress. The truth of the matter is, the American people are looking at Washington, D.C., and saying, enough is enough.

    We want a different type of leadership. We want a different direction for this country. And that's why I truly do believe that Donald Trump will be the next president of the United States.


    Different, but does it have to be so negative, is my question?


    I think we have got to lay out the choice for the American people.

    It's a choice between change and the status quo. And I really do believe, we get out, we work our hearts out, we carry our message to the American people, a positive vision, but also laying out the choice and the stakes, I truly do believe we will have a great victory for the American people this fall.


    After a tough campaign.

    Governor Mike Pence, the Republican nominee for vice president, thank you very much.


    Thank you, Judy. Good to see you again.

Listen to this Segment