RUSH: Vice President Pence, thank you for making time for us today.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Rush, it’s great to be back with you, and I’m really honored to be joining you from the 18 acres of the White House.
RUSH: Oh, you’re back at the White House now. I saw earlier you were up on Capitol Hill with Judge Gorsuch escorting him around.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I was. We started out in Leader Mitch McConnell’s office, but he’s doing his initial rounds today and I have to tell you, the president’s decision to nominate Judge Gorsuch, someone exceptionally well-qualified, an extraordinary background, a man of the West, who I know will be faithful to the Constitution and apply the law as written, it’s deeply humbling for me to be even a small part of that, Rush.
RUSH: You know, you’ve always said that, from the first moment I spoke to you after you accepted the vice presidential nomination, you have spoken of the humility you feel for all this, and it sounds like it hasn’t changed at all.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, for me to be a part of the administration of someone who I truly do believe is gonna make America great again, as you look at the early days of this administration, you look at the decisive leadership, I like to say President Trump is in the promise-keeping business. From literally day one he’s been doing exactly what he told the American people he would do. But last night, to be there on the front row as he walked Judge Neil Gorsuch to the podium and introduced a man who I truly do believe has the character, the courage, and the background to be an extraordinary justice of the Supreme Court was especially meaningful to me.
RUSH: All right, now, I already had a question for you to go here on Judge Hardiman, and I was gonna ask you a question about it, and I was just watching Spicer and the press briefing, and he was asked why President Trump brought both Hardiman and Gorsuch to Washington. And he said, we didn’t bring Hardiman here. Hardiman was never here. We never brought both of these people here. So, it’s another example of fake news! It’s totally fake news. It’s amazing how much fake news. I’m not just saying this because you’re on the phone here. I have a story that documents 30 different examples of fake news in five days, and I haven’t had the chance to go through it on the air with people yet, but it’s astounding. What I was gonna ask you was —
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I could get you to 31 if you want. (laughing)
RUSH: Okay, give me 31.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: (laughing) About a week ago we opened up a paper in New York and they were reporting about something that was on my website or my Facebook page, and it was a fake Facebook page. And that newspaper and one network actually ran with it for a while and took it down, but, you know, I think it’s one of the reasons people cherish and appreciate your voice in the national debate is because when they hear it on Rush Limbaugh they know it’s a fact, they know it’s coming straight at ’em and they know it’s backed up by the truth.
RUSH: Well, we try. Thank you very much. What I was gonna ask you about was this: If there was any strategy in choosing Judge Gorsuch over any of the others on the president’s list, based on the Democrats. Now, early on the Democrats telegraphed that they’re gonna go all the way in stopping whoever the president chose. Was that a factor in determining which of the 20 on the list you decided to go with?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yeah. You know, I don’t think the president based his decision on anything other than finding the best qualified person in the country to succeed — he’s always quick to say to me not replace, you can’t replace Justice Scalia, but you can succeed him. I think his focus was finding the best possible person who would bring a wealth of experience to the fore and be faithful to the Constitution just as he had promised the American people he would do in making this appointment. And I think these other considerations, I think they make great fodder on cable news panels, but, at the end of the day, every conversation that I had with President Trump about this is, “I want the best judge, and I want to keep my word to the American people to appoint someone in the tradition of the late and great Justice Antonin Scalia.”
RUSH: Are you preparing in any specific way for variations on the kind of conduct you could facing during these hearings? They could go one of two ways here. They could figure — meaning the Democrats — they could figure, look, this is a replacement seat, the balance doesn’t change, the man’s eminently qualified and save most of their ammo for the next pick. Or do you expect them to do everything they can to stop Judge Gorsuch?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, let me say we hope for the best. And, frankly, I think the president and our entire team are heartened by some of the early response. I think, at this count, seven Democrats in the United States Senate have said that they believe Judge Gorsuch deserves an up-or-down vote.
RUSH: I have the names right here. Here Blumenthal, Chris Coons of Delaware, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Manchin, West Virginia, McCaskill, Missouri, Tester, Montana, and Durbin, Illinois. Except for Durbin, Trump won practically all the states those senators are in, many of them up for reelection 2018.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, sure. But you can understand, I mean, that’s a very diverse list of people that are nevertheless recognizing that, look, the Senate has a role here under the Constitution. I walked Judge Gorsuch into the capitol building today, he sat down with Leader Mitch McConnell and he’s been meeting with members of the Senate, he’s gonna meet — if they take the meeting, he’s gonna meet with all 100 members of the Senate, Republicans and Democrats alike. They’ll have hearings in the coming weeks, and the Senate has a job to do.
But at the end of the day, I think we’re encouraged by the fact that so many Democrats here within 24 hours of the announcement are recognizing that there needs to be a vote on Judge Gorsuch, and that would be very consistent with the timetable and the way that both President Obama’s first-term appointments to the court and President Clinton’s first-term appointments to the court were considered.
You know, whether it was President Clinton with Breyer or Ginsburg or whether it be Obama with Kagan and Sotomayor, those nominees moved through the process in a period of 60 or 70 days, there was no filibuster, they were given an up-or-down vote, and in every single case every one of those nominees received bipartisan support.
RUSH: You can’t be expecting that here. You’re talking about the Republicans showing Obama and Clinton respect in their first terms, but, Mr. Vice President, these people are already claiming that this is a stolen seat, that this is Merrick Garland’s seat, that this guy, Gorsuch, does not deserve this seat, that this seat should go to whoever Obama wanted to have it.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, let’s be clear. This seat, this court, and this government belongs to the American people. And the decision by the majority to essentially hold off on considering an 11th hour vacancy on the court put that decision in the hands of the American people. And they elected in President Trump someone who not only created a list, but he created a framework, said I want someone that’s exceptionally qualified, someone with an extraordinary academic background, I want someone of character and courage, and I want someone who will be faithful to the Constitution in a manner consistent with Justice Scalia.
Hillary Clinton was offering something very different. You remember in those debates, Rush, Hillary Clinton was offering a completely different judicial philosophy and would have offered very different nominees. This was in the hands of the American people, and I can’t think of a better place for that to be, and the American people chose the president they wanted to make this appointment, and I think and hope that members of the Senate will respect that, that it was placed in the hands of the American people, and that they’ll give Judge Gorsuch every consideration, give him that up-down vote. And, in so doing, I still continue to hope that we’ll see bipartisan support and orderly consideration so that Judge Gorsuch can become Justice Gorsuch and the American people will be proud every day that he’s on the court.
RUSH: We are speaking with Vice President Mike Pence. I have to take a brief commercial break, and I know you’re swamped, but, if you can hang on for a couple more minutes when we get back, I would appreciate it.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Glad to do it.
RUSH: Great. I have a couple things I want to ask above and beyond the nomination of Judge Gorsuch. We’ll take the break and be back in just a second and continue with the vice president.
RUSH: And we’re back with the vice president, Mike Pence, former governor of Indiana.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Hi, Rush.
RUSH: I want to move on to the domestic agenda here, the triumvirate of Obamacare: replace and repeal, tax cuts, and the infrastructure.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yep.
RUSH: I guess the thing that interests me most here is the infrastructure. That’s a trillion dollars that is being talked about here over 10 years, coming off Obama’s 700, $800 billion infrastructure bill, which there was no infrastructure addressed with that. Where does the money come from, and what kind of projects, and what are its prospects legislatively?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, let’s be clear. What the president said, first and foremost, is that we’re gonna repeal and replace Obamacare. And we’re gonna do all those things at the same time. The president dispatched me to meet with members of Congress shortly after the election. We’ve been working earnestly. I was back on Capitol Hill last week, and those discussions and negotiations are going forward, and we’re looking forward to Dr. Tom Price being confirmed as the secretary of HHS.
And you’ll see that plan come forward that will not only repeal Obamacare’s mandates and taxes that are driving up premiums across the country over 100% in some jurisdictions. But you’re also gonna see a plan that harnesses the power of the free market to drive down the cost of health insurance for Americans. But that’s all coming. By this spring, we’re gonna be talking tax relief, tax reform. President Trump’s committed to cutting taxes across the board.
Frankly he’s also making some changes in our tax code that take away the benefit companies have when they pull up stakes (chuckles) and move jobs overseas. Getting the economy moving again is key. But in the midst of all of that we’ll be doing a couple of other things, including building and rebuilding the military after years of neglect, and we’ll be looking for funding from the Congress to do that. But on the infrastructure side, the American people know that they elected a strong leader in President Trump, but I can tell you also, they elected a builder.
This is someone who, as you know — you’ve known him for many years, Rush — is someone who, you know, is very impatient with the crumbling infrastructure that he sees at our airports, that he sees on too many roads and bridges across the country, and so we’re looking at a broad range of options to make resources available to states and local communities to rebuild the infrastructure of this country.
RUSH: What about the…?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: We’re not just talking about public money here.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: What Indiana did… One of the things Indiana did — and all of this is on the drawing board right now in terms of financing. One of the things State of Indiana did was harness private sector funding. It’s called public-and-private partnerships to build infrastructure. When I was governor of Indiana, our state was recognized as a national leader in this area. So there’s a whole range of ways that we can get at the resources in the short term and in the long term. But more than anything else, I think in President Trump you have someone that knows that roads mean jobs. The right infrastructure in America will support growth and opportunity all across the country, and we’re committed to finding ways to do all that.
RUSH: There’s no question that a lot of airports, roads, bridges need to be rebuilt and modernized. There’s no question. Let me ask you about private money, how it works.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yeah.
RUSH: Private money is private money. Are you offering equity in these projects in exchange for the money? Tax breaks? What incentives are you offering private sector people — and I assume they’re moneyed people — to help the federal government in rebuilding and modernizing some of these things?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, let me just say stay tuned. This is something we’re working with members of Congress on legislation even as we speak. Literally we’re considering all of the above. But what you have in President Trump, whether it be straight-out appropriations or public and private partnerships, is a president who wants to get this economy moving again, and he wants to get America rolling again.
And he knows that, you know, having the condition that we have at many of our major airports, having the condition of too many of our roads and bridges across the country is not gonna support a growing American economy. And so we’re gonna work with members of Congress about the best way to do that in a fiscally responsible way, and we’ll have those details for you in the days ahead.
RUSH: Mr. Vice President — you, the president — are you surprised, to any extent at all, at the vitriol and the intensity of the opposition coming your way? Not just from the Democrats. From the American people, from the media, at virtually every turn? Is this something you expected? Is it worse or not as bad as you expected? Do you have plans to deal with it?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, what I’ll tell you is I’ve been very moved at the outpouring of support from people all across the country for President Trump’s decisive leadership on a broad range of issues. I had the privilege a week ago of speaking to the March for Life in front of 50,000 largely young people on the National Mall, and to see their enthusiasm for a president who kept his word standing for the sanctity of life. It was deeply moving to me, to see people that came to the inauguration from all over the country to…
I can’t even describe to you what this grandson of an Irish immigrant felt (chuckling) as I raised my right hand and looked out over that sea of people cheering this president on, this strong leader who’s determined to bring real change to Washington, D.C. And with regard to Americans that disagree with our agenda, that’s their every right. We respect their right to be heard from. I will tell you the negative media coverage that we’ve gotten from many quarters — present company excepted — has been striking to me. I have to tell you that in all of my life, there was always a grace period, right, for new presidents coming in?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: (chuckles) I think they call it a honeymoon, right? Where the media, like, gives a new administration a chance to come in and start to do what they do. And, boy, if there was a honeymoon, it was pretty short, Rush. (laughing) I really don’t remember that. And yet what’s so inspiring to me is, in President Trump, you have someone who’s turned… He’s “turned his face like flint against the wind,” as the saying goes, and he’s driving forward on all of the policies that he promised the American people he would do.
And I think that’s the reason why people all across the country — millions of your listeners across the country — are so heartened by this, the early days of this administration. I’m just telling you, and telling all of them, “We’re just getting started. We are in the promise-keeping business, and we’re gonna continue to support the president in every way as he keeps his word to the American people, and we will make America safe again, we will make America prosperous again, and as he loves to say, ‘We will make America great again.'”
RUSH: Well, thank you, Mr. Vice President. I appreciate that. We have limited time here. I just have to tell you, the last time I spoke to the president he asked me if I was still as strong as I used to be, still booming the ball. Tell him yes.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: (laughing)
RUSH: He’ll know what that’s about. It’s the golf course.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: (laughing) He’s gonna make you prove it on the golf course.
RUSH: (laughing) Also, just to give you a heads-up — I’m not asking you to respond, just giving you a heads-up — the media’s reporting that two Republicans, one of them Susan Collins, have announced they’re gonna vote against Betsy DeVos at Education. I’m not asking for your response because I’ve got three seconds to thank you for showing up. It’s great to talk to you and we’ll see you next time.