Former Vice President Mike Pence spoke with NPR's Steve Inskeep on Monday in a video interview at the Indiana State Capitol They discussed the January 6th attack on the Capitol, a Pence's potential 2024 presidential campaign and the issues facing the Republican party today.
In addition to the context provided in the course of the interview, you can read more fact-checking and analysis of the conversation here.
You've said a lot already about January 6th. I don't want to make you go over everything, but I want to pick up the story in the middle, so to speak. When you were in the vice president's office, inside the Capitol...At what point and how did you come to understand that many people in the crowd were coming after you or wanted to come for you?
They had come on to the Senate floor - my Secret Service detail - while we were debating initial objections that had been filed. And my Secret Service agent, Maximilian, said, "We need to get you out of the building." I rose, I walked across the short lobby to our ceremonial office, confident that we could hold there. I'd been informed by the parliamentarian that the rioters had breached the Capitol on the House side. But, Steve, I spent 12 years in Congress. I was there when an assailant broke into the majority leader's office and claimed lives. I had great confidence in the ability of the Capitol Hill police to secure the Capitol. So I simply told my details that we would hold in my office and then have the ability to reconvene the Congress and continue our work.
But shortly thereafter, my lead Secret Service agent came in and said, We need to get you out of the building. And I said, "No, we'll stay here." The third time he came in, he was very adamant and he said, "We need to leave the building." And I put my finger on his chest and said, "You're not hearing me. I'm not leaving. I'm not giving those people the sight of a 16 car motorcade speeding away from the Capitol."
Did you understand at that point that they wanted you, that they were chanting things such as "Hang Mike Pence?"
Candidly, Steve, I did not. I found that out after the fact. But we were very aware, watching the visuals on television, that there was a riot underway. I just was determined to stay at my post. You know, for me, I had no more complicated view than that. And I believe that it was important that I stay. At that point, my daughter helpfully interjected with the question, "Is there somewhere else in the capital Dad could go?" Because she saw the loggerheads that we'd reached with my Secret Service agent. And he said, "We could take you to the parking garage" And I agreed. And then I touched my wife Karen on the arm and my daughter and I said, "Let's go". And we walked down to the parking garage below the Capitol building. We could hear the sound of footfall, we could hear chanting. But it was only later that I learned that many people had come to the Capitol looking for me.
When you did learn in hours and days to come, it's my understanding that you had a conversation with a friend of yours, Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, who gave an interview to the Tulsa World. And he quoted you as saying of President Trump something to the effect of, "After all I've done for him." The idea being that you had been loyal to him and that he had not been perhaps to you. What did it mean to you that that loyalty was not repaid?
Steve, I had always been loyal to President Donald Trump. He was my president and he was my friend. For all four years of our administration. We work closely together and frankly, we develop a close working relationship that I recount in my book, So Help Me God. Anytime we had differences, and we did from time to time, I thought as vice president, it was important that I only express those differences in private to the president. But January of 2021, things had to be different because I have a higher loyalty to God and the Constitution, and I'll always believe that we did our duty that day, that we kept our oath to the Constitution. But what happened that day angered me. You know, as I looked at the site on our cell phones and on a small television in the Senate office where I was standing, and saw people breaking windows and vandalizing a Capitol that I had dreamed as a little boy of serving in, growing up in Columbus, Indiana, and then had the privilege to serve in for 12 years. It just infuriated me. I was struck with a sense of not this, not here, not in America. But I must tell you, by the time we made it to the parking garage, I knew I had to put all those emotions aside. When the tweet came across from the president saying that I lack courage it angered me, but I really didn't have time for it. I thought it was a moment where it was clear to me the president had decided to be a part of the problem. And I was determined to be part of the solution. And we convened the Republican and Democrat leaders of the Congress and started to work to get the response from the Pentagon and the Justice Department to support all those remarkable people in the Capitol Hill police that were holding the line against the angry crowd.
Did he at some level, on some level betray you?
Well, I'm not a victim, Steve. I'm not. I'm a guy that did my duty that day, and I'll never see it any other way. But I will tell you that the way that Republicans and Democrat leaders came together that day, I think would be an inspiration to people around this country. We huddled on our first conference call. I heard from the Speaker, and from Leader Schumer, Leader McCarthy and Leader McConnell, a great frustration on their part. They were not getting answers. or they were getting conflicting answers, about what the federal assistance would be and when help would arrive at the Capitol. And that's when I said to the leadership, I was the presiding officer under the Constitution of the joint session, but I said to them, "Do you want me to get involved?" m. And I was determined to stay at my post. I felt instinctively that by remaining in the capital, it might facilitate even a quicker response by federal authorities to come alongside the Capitol Hill police as they fought against the rioters. But I thought it was important that I ask the leaders of the Congress if they wanted me to engage. They all adamantly said yes. I said once before we hung up the first call. I said again, "You want me to get answers?" They said, "Yes." And I said, "I'm on it." And then leaning against a cinder block wall in the parking garage with notes strewn out in front of me, I started to work the phones. I spoke to the Pentagon, I spoke to the Justice Department and I spoke to the Capitol Hill police chief on a number of occasions when he informed me that it appeared that the violence would be quelled. Late that afternoon, I asked him to come down to the parking garage to brief me personally. And then I contacted the Democrat and Republican leadership and told them that it appeared that we would be able to reconvene the Congress and complete our work under the Constitution by 7 p.m. that night.
Which, in fact, you did. It took all night, as I recall, before you got home, but the work was done. I want to ask about the period leading up to that, because, of course, there was a period of several months leading up to that in which the president first predicted and then claimed a stolen election. You write something very interesting in this book. You say that, I believe, on November 7th. Two months before the attack on the Capitol, the race had been called for Joe Biden. And you spoke with Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law, and said you were not convinced that there had been sufficient irregularities to change the election. In the period that followed, did you consider yourself saying something in public or even conceding the race yourself because you were on the ballot, too?
Well, let me clarify something that's in the book, So Help me God, is that even at that early point, I was not convinced that there was fraud sufficient to change the outcome of the election. And, of course, evidence of widespread fraud would never come. But I was concerned about the voting irregularities that had taken place. And I said so all the way up to my correspondence to Congress on January 6th. I mean, there were a half a dozen states around the country, Steve, that in the name of COVID had changed the rules around elections, sometimes through executive action, sometimes through an attorney general's decision.
And in many cases, as my staff briefed me, in many cases, they were changes that seemed to benefit Democrat candidates in those states above Republicans. I thought it was important that we have that debate. It was one of the reasons why I made it clear going into January 6th that I thought a fulsome debate about irregularities and any evidence of fraud that may emerge would be useful for the country, if only to set the stage for future reform, which I'm glad to see is happening in states around the country.
Laws have changed. But did you think about or discuss doing as Attorney General Barr did? I think on December 1st and just say, listen, "There's not sufficient evidence here of anything major?"
For my part, I thought it was important that we just continue to support both the legal challenges as well as the legal processes that are established under federal law. And for all intents and purposes at the moment, at which the states certified their elections, the election was over, but we still had the process established. When Rutherford B Hayes was elected president after a controversial election, the Electoral Count Act was established. I thought it was important as the presiding officer that we see all of those challenges through. But as I write and So Help Me God, it would be just a matter of a week or so after the election that I told the president that if the challenges in the court didn't play out, he should simply accept the result and support a peaceful transfer of power. And if he wanted to run again, he could run again.
Granting that your advice to the president is private, could you have told us what you knew at that point?
I think it was important in that moment that we let the courts, the states through certification and then the Congress... Look, the core of the president and my confrontation was over the fact that he had a gaggle of outside lawyers that were telling him that as vice president, I had unilateral authority to determine which electoral votes to count. Which, no vice president in American history had ever claimed that authority. The American presidency belongs to the American people, the American people alone. But disputes over electoral votes under federal law are decided by the elected representatives of the American people in the Congress. And I thought it was important that we work entirely through that process, uphold the Constitution, uphold the laws of the country, and move our country forward under the rule of law.
I want people to know that you include some of your past speeches in this book, in an appendix in the end, including your 2016 convention speech in Cleveland accepting the vice presidential nomination. I was in Cleveland at the time, I watched that speech. It's a good speech. I appreciated reading it again.
In that speech, you say Donald Trump is a good man, not just that he was the man for the moment, or the right man, or a strong candidate, but a good man. Do you still believe he's a good man?
President Trump was wrong on January 6th in arguing that I had the authority to overturn the election. But I'll always be proud of the record that we created for the American people, Steve. I mean, I joined the ticket because I thought the country was in a lot of trouble. I thought if we stayed on the path that we were on, we would tend to weaken our economy, weaken America's place in the world. And under the Trump administration, we rebuilt our military, we launched the first new branch of our Armed Forces in 75 years. Our military crushed the ISIS caliphate. We took out the most dangerous terrorists in the world. And Russia never tried to redraw international lines by force during our administration, which remains the only administration in the 21st century where that can be said. 7 million good paying jobs, revived our economy, became energy independent and of course, saw 300 conservatives appointed to our courts at every level. So of course, I'm incredibly proud of the record of our administration. I was proud to work with President Trump throughout. But as I write it, So Help Me God. President Trump was wrong and his his words and actions that day were reckless. They endangered my family and people at the Capitol building. And, uh, I'll never hold any other view.
While you're proud of the record, you didn't just call him a good man again.
Well, look, I truly do believe that only God knows our hearts. And I'll, uh, I'll leave it to others to make their own judgments. But I must tell you that the president and I enjoyed a close working relationship, and. And I know it may...it may strike people in a surprising fashion. But in the days after January 6th, when the president asked to meet with me privately. I'd made no effort to reach out to him. The morning after that tragic day he had said what needed to be said. He condemned the violence. He committed to a peaceful transfer of power. But I told his daughter and son-in-law if he had something he wanted to say to me, I'd hear him out. I went down to the Oval Office and walked to that back dining room where he and I had spent so many hours together and, I will tell you, I sense that he was, that he was, remorseful about what had happened. His first question to me was about my daughter and my wife.
Who had been with you at the time.
Who had been with me the entire time. He said, "How are Charlotte and Karen" And I said rather startlingly, "They're fine." I said they were with me the whole time. They wouldn't leave. And then he asked me, "Were you scared?" And I said, "No, Mr. President, I was angry." I made it clear to him I was angry at our differences. And I said that seeing those people ransacking the Capitol just infuriated me. I truly do believe, Steve, that those people may have thought they were our supporters, but they're not our movement. I mean, I had spent the last four and a half years speaking at rallies around the country, meeting people in our movement. And they were some of the most patriotic, God fearing, law abiding people I'd ever met in my life who would never have done something like that there or anywhere else. But we talked through the issues that day. I was very direct with him about what I had done and my determination and my conviction that what I'd done was consistent with the oath of office that I'd taken in the Constitution. But in the days that followed, we talked from time and time again, and when we left the White House, we parted amicably. Um, we even spoke on the phone from time to time after we left office. But, uh, Steve, when the president returned to the rhetoric he was using before January 6th, began again to question those of us that had defended the Constitution. I just thought it was important that we go our separate ways and we have.
I want to ask about your future, because you have told other interviewers that in the weeks to come, perhaps you will consider your future, talk with your family and pray. So I understand that. I'd like to understand something about what's on your mind, though. If you ran for president. If you were president, what would your purpose be? What would you want to do with the power?
Well, I'm always very humbled when people ask me whether or not I'm considering running for the highest office in the land. Back in 2010 when I was considering coming home to run for governor of Indiana or enter a national campaign, as some conservatives urged me to do. People would ask me, Do you ever thought about running for president? I'd always say "No more, no less than any other kid that grew up with a cornfield in his backyard. I mean, that's kind of what it is to be an American, right? (laughs). You can dream your dreams.
Anybody can be president. Sure. But why would you want to be?
Anybody can be anybody.
But what would be the point for you?
Well, you know, for me, it all comes down to a belief in service. I mean, my dad was a combat veteran in the Korean War. My grandfather came to this country - I was named after him - stepped off on a boat onto Ellis Island, raised my mom, who is 90 years young this month, living here in Indiana. Unstoppable. First generation Irish American. I watched my parents live the American Dream in a small town here in Indiana, and my dad always raised us with the idea that you ought to give back to your country, a country that had given our families so much. And that's somewhere in my youth, the dream of representing my hometown in Congress was born, but I never imagined I'd have the chance to be governor of this state or vice president of the United States. So for me and my family, when you say if we were to run well, first is we'd run in such a way that we've sought to run the last 20 years, which is that we wouldn't run against anybody. We'd run for things. I started out in politics as a Democrat. In my teenage years. But in the voice and values of Ronald Reagan, I heard the ideals of my youth, and I joined the Reagan revolution and never looked back. And but early on in my life as I write and So Help Me God, I learned some hard lessons in politics. I got caught up in a couple of negative personal campaigns for Congress. Steve. I not only lost, but I lost a lot of my self-respect, as I write about in the book. But after that, I wrote an essay entitled Confessions of a Negative Campaigner in 1991. In which I reflect on the fact that what I profess to believe as a Christian, I set aside in my campaigns. The heart of the Christian faith apart from trusting in Jesus Christ is to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It's known as the Golden Rule. And I hadn't done that. I'd failed to live out my faith in the public square. And I wrote an essay with the thought of just being honest about how I'd failed. And never imagining ten years later, that I'd have the opportunity to try again. And ever since then, I've sought to run in such a way, that first honors God, advances issues and ideals, and then is about winning. But as you say, what would it be about? You know, I really do believe, as I've been traveling around this country, what I've heard from the American people is they want to get back to the policies of the Trump-Pence administration, of a strong military, of free market economics, conservatives on our courts, America's standing with our allies, standing up to our enemies. But I think they long for leadership that could unite our country around our highest ideals and demonstrate the kind of respect and civility that the American people show each other every day. You know, our politics is very divided right now, maybe more than any time in my lifetime. But you know, moving back to Indiana, shopping at the grocery store, going to the gas station, being back around family and friends, traveling the country, I'm not convinced that the American people are as divided as our politics. I mean, the truth is, and it'll be true this Thanksgiving week, the American people figured out how to get along with each other, people you don't agree with on every issue. And what I like to say is that what I hear is people longing for leadership that reflects that same kind of civility and respect that I've always tried to aspire to, at least in the back end of my political career.
One of the reasons I ask why you'd want to do this is because, as I'm sure you know, there's a debate about the future of the Republican Party. And there are some people who advocate what has been called national conservatism, which could be defined in different ways. But one way to think of it is, instead of going for small government and limited government, a kind of libertarian approach, maybe you endorse a bigger or more active government that will promote or even impose traditional values. Do you support that way of thinking?
Well, I'm not sure I've heard it put quite that way. But look, I'm a Christian, a conservative and a Republican in that order. I've said that since my days on talk radio that I write about in So Help Me God. But I'm a limited government conservative. You know, I think one of the things that I think I brought to the Trump-Pence administration was not just my experience in Congress, but having been a governor. And understanding the role that governors and states play really informed my approach to leading the White House coronavirus task force. I mean, I knew from early on that our job was to get the states and get governors the resources, supplies that they needed to meet their moment. And that was the system that our founders had created. And so for me, it, you know, it all comes down to the Constitution, Steve. It all comes down to the limited government republic that our founders enshrined. And that's the foundation that I set -
And so more of the Ronald Reagan idea than the national conservatism idea.
As Ronald Reagan said in his first inaugural address, it's important to remember the states created the federal government. The federal government didn't create the states. And I think we would do well as a country to seize a moment where we, again, encourage states to be those laboratories of democracy and innovation that our founders contemplated.
They're now, of course, laboratories of debate on abortion. And abortion was on the ballot in a number of states this fall. In numerous states, people voted in various ways in favor of abortion rights. And it appears that candidates who supported abortion rights did well. What message did you take from that election? On that issue.
Well, let me say I'm. I'm pro-life. I don't apologize for it. I'll always cherish the fact that I was vice president in the administration that appointed three of the justices of the Supreme Court. that gave us a new beginning for life, that returned the question of abortion to the states and to the American people where it belongs. And now that debate begins, I said, in the wake of the Dobbs decision, that we haven't come to the end. We've come to the end of the beginning. And I'm determined in however many years I have left on this earth to be a voice for the unborn and to work every day to restore the sanctity of life to the center of American law. But I've said to my fellow pro-life champions, it may take us as long to restore the sanctity of life to the center of law in every state in this country as it took us to overturn Roe versus Wade. But I believe a society can be judged by how it deals with its most vulnerable. The aged, the infirmed, the disabled and the unborn. And all of my life, I'll... whatever role we're in, I'll look to be a voice for the right to life.
You don't think that this election is the signal of where the country is going on this?
Well, I will tell you that the common denominator for me was that Republicans who articulated their position on the right to life, did well. Republicans who did not articulate their position, and allowed their position to be defined, did not do as well. And the truth is that, the Democratic Party today supports abortion on demand up to the moment of birth and taxpayer funding of abortion. Those are positions that are supported by about one out of four Americans. I truly believe that this is a pro-life country. We're still divided on the issue, Steve.
I should mention President Biden has said the Roe versus Wade standard is the one that he would approve. That's the way I think he would phrase it. And in fact, he has, in on the record statements.
I didn't hear you.
President Biden has said that the standard of Roe versus Wade is the one that he supports. which is a little different than abortion on demand up to the moment of birth.
It is...I will tell you, the Democratic Party have been very clear in their position on this issue. And I believe that the candidates that articulated their position on life, wherever that was, protecting the unborn, fared better than Democrat candidates in race after race. But, look, I want to concede a point. We have a ways to go in this issue. But I believe that in the most prosperous nation on earth we ought to be a nation that is grounded in the unalienable right to life and makes it possible for women in crisis pregnancies to go to term, or raise their child, or give their child up for adoption. But I also think it's just as important as you see states advance pro-life legislation that the advanced legislation, not just for the unborn, but for the newborn. I think we have a unique opportunity to demonstrate the deep compassion of the American people and say yes to life with the generosity and the kindness of every American.
One of the most interesting chapters in this book is called Blessed. (coughs) Excuse me. You laugh, but it's an interesting chapter.
Do you like the title?
It's a fascinating title. And it begins with a quote, a biblical quote about persecution. And in the course of the chapter, which is about your faith and people's responses to your faith, you say have been mocked that you were the focus of a mania about your faith, faith that you faced hostility and intolerance, and that Christians generally were insulted and demeaned, and also that your faith had been misunderstood. What is it that people misunderstood?
Well, let me say, Steve, I've never heard any of that from you. But when my wife was attacked for teaching at a Christian school. When one media outlet after another ridiculed our Christian faith from time to time, I was always struck by that. Because, you know, as I traveled around America, the words I most often heard, and I heard them every day. People would reach out across a rope line or stop me on a street corner and say, "I'm praying for you." I mean, this is a nation of faith, of different faiths. I'm a born again Christian, raised in a wonderful Catholic home. But the American people cherish faith in the overwhelming majority. And yet it seemed to be a subject of fascination by some in the liberal media. But it was always a blessing to me because the net effect of it was as I as I would learn, traveling around the country, I was always reminded that some of the criticism from those on the left about my deeply held religious beliefs would invariably remind people that I, who shared those values and those beliefs, that we share have something in common.
When you said you were misunderstood in the chapter, I believe you were talking about very in various ways, people in the LGBTQ community. Is there something on issues having to do with sexual orientation and gender that people misunderstand about you?
Well, I write an entire chapter, in the book, about our experience here in Indiana. With the passage of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. You know, I believe President John F Kennedy said, to lead is to be misunderstood. And here was a bill in the run up to the decision legalizing gay marriage by the Supreme Court. It was immediately characterized in the media as a license to discriminate, which, of course, it clearly wasn't. And legal scholars at the time recognized that. And we found our way through it. And we eventually took actions necessary to reassure people that there was no license to discriminate. You know, I'm a Hoosier, Steve. You know something about that. Hoosier hospitality is not a slogan. It literally is the way we live every day. Hoosier's are some of the most caring, compassionate, strong willed, but strong hearted people you'll ever meet in your life. And I said at the time when I was governor, I don't believe anyone should ever be harassed or discriminated against because of who they are, who they love, or what they believe. But that being said, there are profound implications on this question. As Justice Kennedy wrote in the Obergefell decision that, "Bear upon religious freedom." And the courts have been sorting through that ever since. I will tell you, I've been encouraged that the Supreme Court has been striking a balance on the issues of religious liberty and individual rights. And I trust that the conservatives on the court will continue to do that. But if there's anything people don't understand well about the Pences, to know Karen and Mike Pence, to know our family is that we love everybody. My faith tells me to love your neighbor as yourself. And that's something we aspire to do every day, whether we agree with every view or every value of the people that we meet.
One thing that occurred to me as I read this is that...(coughs). I am so sorry. Let me get a sip of water here and continue. Thank you so much.
How are we doing for time?
Great, we've got about five...got a couple of questions left. One thing that occurred to me as I read that chapter is that some of the words you use to describe the way you've been treated. I feel that I've heard from people who identify as lesbian or gay or trans that they faced hostility or a mania, that they've been mocked, they faced intolerance, that they were insulted, they were demeaned. You probably followed the news of the nightclub shooting in Colorado just in the last few days.
What would you say to reassure, if anything, your fellow citizens who feel that way?
Well, I do believe that it adheres to the American character to show tolerance. Just who we are. And not just here in the Midwest, but really all across this country. You know, during my time as Vice President, my opinion of the American people went up, not down. I've seen the American people in good times, I've seen them facing natural disasters and I've seen the incredible generosity. What I write about and So Help me God, is that for many Bible believing Christians, we perceive what I call the intolerance of tolerance. That in the name of tolerance, people are intolerant -
Toward people like you.
Of traditional views. And I don't. I don't argue for a moment that people on the other end of that debate have felt the same way. One of the reasons is, I think we need to get to a place. Where we recognize again what really the First Amendment is all about. And that is it's the right to live, to work, to worship according to the dictates of your conscience and to respect one another. I do think it's one of the things I've heard over and over traveling around the country. As I said before, and that I think the American people long for leadership at the national level. That shows the respect and civility that Americans show to one another every day, whether it's at the grocery store or the gas station or at work or at worship or across a backyard fence. It's just the reality. The American people actually get along pretty well every day because we're tolerant and caring, and we're the most generous people in the history of the world. And so I think there is much to be said about hunger in our country for that kind of leadership. And people say that to me, and I'm humbled because they tend to associate us at least, at least in our recent career with aspiring to be that kind of a voice.
How do you grade your party, particularly this year, on that issue of tolerance? I'm thinking of the governor of Utah, a Republican who vetoed a bill having to do with sports and was overridden. And as part of that issued a message in which he said, I want to show compassion for people, even if I don't agree with them. And also, it seemed to me he was saying, I don't understand why this is even important. Why are we legislating on something that involves so few people? The suggestion being that a small number of people were being demonized. How would you grade your party on that?
I think our party has made it clear that the doors of the Republican Party are wide open. I remember being at the Republican National Convention when the president acknowledged the support of the LGBT community, and there was rousing applause at that Cleveland convention stage, Steve. You remember. You were there. But you know, for us to have achieved the lowest unemployment ever recorded for African-Americans, the lowest unemployment ever recorded for Hispanic Americans, I think that our party made great strides in the four years of the Trump administration, making clear what our values were, what our core values were, but also making it clear that that every American is welcome in the Republican Party.
The administration reversed trans issues in the military, for example, programs that were attempting to encourage tolerance there.
Well, I and I respect and support that decision. I just think we always need to put military readiness and the mission of our military first and issues that would be obscure to most Americans except those who've served in the military or are serving now. Issues like unit cohesion are absolutely essential to an effective military. And I, I think that it's it's important as we see this administration flatlining military spending, as we see the advance of of ideas like critical race theory making their way into Pentagon policies that we...Look, the military in the United States of America since the founding of this country, has been a melting pot for the American people. We ought to celebrate that, but we should never lose focus on the purpose of our military, which is to defend the nation and stand with our allies.
I want to impose on you one more question before I let you go. It is about your youth.
It's about what?
Your youth! You write a fascinating story about a kid who is finding his way in the world. You say that you were fifty pounds overweight and were unhappy about it. At one point, you lose weight, you gain confidence. You learn to give speeches and win competitions. But you say you end up full of yourself. Later comes a period where you change your faith. How often, when you're going through your political life, do you think about that uncertain, unformed, insecure kid and what he wanted and what he needed?
Well, first, thanks for reading, So Help Me God. I'm humbled by that. And, I can tell you that from very early on, my Irish grandfather told me I was the only Irishman born in our family, which I think may have been because I had the gift of the gab. But I learned that I had the ability to say things, give speeches in elementary school and high school. I competed even nationally. But as I wrote in the book, when I went off to college, I had a pretty healthy opinion of myself. But I knew down in my heart that I really didn't know Who I was or what I believed. And it was off in college in my freshman year that I met people whose Christian faith was...the likes of which I hadn't encountered before. I'd grown up in a wonderful Catholic family. My parents were both devout believers who'd poured that foundation, but I lost interest in religion completely when I went off to college. But I met people who talked to me about having a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. And in those discussions and in that time in my life, I felt drawn to making a personal decision in my faith. And in the spring of 1978, made what I believe is the most important decision of my life, and that was to accept Christ as my personal savior. And everything I've done since then begins there, trying to keep faith with what I believe that God in his word requires of me, both as a husband, as a father, uh, as a grandfather, now, as a public servant. And, um, it's that faith, it's the relationship with my incredible wife of 37 years. It's the kids that are the part of our lives that are going to continue to steer us and continue to focus us. But I'm a long way from that young man back in Columbus, Indiana. But, um, whatever progress we've made is owing to the grace of God, to my family, and to the support of the people of Indiana and America.
Is that kid still in you, though? Because that kid was ambitious. Tried to win the Optimist Club competition. Maybe I can see a little bit of you in that kid.
That kid will always be in me. And he's one of the reasons I have a fundamental distrust of my own ambition. My own ambition has carried me places early in my career that I learned hard lessons. But ever since that time, we've always sought just a kind of reflect, pray, talk to one another as a family. Talk to trusted friends to discern what our calling might be and whatever the future holds. We know who holds the future, and we'll go where we're called.
Mr. Vice President, it's been a pleasure. Thank you so much.
Steve. Thank you. It's good to be with you.