Remarks by the Vice President to the Latino Coalition Policy Summit
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you so much. And buenas tardes a todos. It’s wonderful to be with you all. You know, the last time I addressed the Latino Coalition I promised myself I wouldn’t come back until I learned some Spanish. (Laughter.) That was six years ago, and I’ve learned four words. So you can tell how much my promises to the Hispanic community are worth.
It is a great privilege, great privilege to be back to the Latino Coalition once again. The last time I was here I was a congressman from the great state of Indiana. And today, through an absolutely mind-bogglingly improbable series of events, I am deeply humbled to stand before you as Vice President of the United States of America. (Applause.) The reason I’m in this position is because of the confidence of my quote-unquote “friend,” the Quote-Unquote “President” of the United States of America, and because of the support of 107,000 people in three Midwestern states.
And I want to tell you that I bring greetings from the Quote-Unquote “President.” Just before I left the Oval Office I told him I was headed your way, and he was pleased to hear about it. And I told him I was headed to a conference entitled “Make Small Business Great Again Policy Summit,” and he was very pleased. (Applause.) He’s like a child in that way, you know. He loves to hear his own words repeated back to him. The only thing better is if he sees them on a hat.
I think the Quote-Unquote “President” wants you to know that our administration, simply put – the Trump administration will be the best friend American small businesses will ever have. (Applause.) Even small businesses run by brown people like yourselves. That’s how much we love small businesses, we even love the ones run by brown people.
You know, I grew up in a small business family in a small town in southern Indiana. I went to work at one of my dad’s gas stations when I was only 14 years of age. I was really proud of myself. Child labor, that’s something else we’re going to be making great again. (Applause.)
Now, for those of you under the age of 30, if you’re wondering what a gas station attendant was – (laughter) – just imagine if when you pulled into a gas station, some untrained kid with deep-seated personality problems, dead black snake eyes and a burning, unquenchable ambition to tell women what to do with their bodies ran out, pumped your gas, cleaned your windshield, checked your tires, and didn’t charge you any more money for it. It was a great job, a great experience.
I was just in a meeting yesterday with the Quote-Unquote “President” in the Cabinet Room, and we were talking about infrastructure with leaders. And an old friend of his said that he and the President had grown up in the same way. He said, come Saturday mornings, even when we were very young, the time that we spent with our dad was we were out on a job site. That’s the kind of barren, emotionally desiccated relationships we had with our dads. That’s what it is to be in a small business family.
Businesses represented in this room have made an incredible impact not just in the lives of your employees, but in your communities, and frankly, in the nation as a whole. The fact is that Hispanics are driving entrepreneurship and economic growth like never before.
It’s incredible to think that today Hispanics own an amazing 4 million American companies, and their combined annual revenue is over $650 billion. How on earth did we let that happen? White people, I mean. As I’m sure you know, we love basketball in Indiana. I guess we white people really took our eyes off the ball there.
Now I’d like to pander to the women in the room for a minute, if I can – it’s Women’s History Month. Could we give a round of applause to all the Latina small business owners who are with us today? (Applause.) Incredible leadership demonstrated. I know the Quote-Unquote “President” honors you, at least when he’s not grabbing you.
And now I’d like to pander to the veterans in the room. Could I ask all of those who’ve worn the uniform in the United States of America to rise – the men and women who’ve served their country in uniform. (Applause.) I say “their” country, even though, you know. At least none of you look like – how did the Quote-Unquote “President” put it the other day? “Bad hombres.” (Laughter.)
And now, what the heck, I’ll just pander to everybody. Could the rest of you rise, too? (Applause.) Thank you, thank you. It’s much easier for the FBI photographers to get your faces in the frame when you’re standing up. Thank you.
You know, you can’t look at these numbers that we’re all talking about and not be impressed. There sure are a lot of Hispanic people in this country. The Quote-Unquote “President” talked about that all the time, back on the campaign trail. And I like to say, if you haven’t noticed, that the White House these days, we’re in the promise-keeping business in Washington, D.C.
It’s been incredibly exciting since literally – I’d like to say day one, but it was actually night one. We came in from that parade, and the Quote-Unquote “President” sat down at his desk and went right to work and hasn’t slowed down a minute since. Literally, from that very first day, Quote-Unquote “President” Trump went right to work, signing executive orders he hadn’t read, tweeting petty complaints at media people he’d seen on the teevee.
And folks, we’re just getting started, I can promise you that. And on the very top of that list, I can promise you, the Obamacare nightmare is about to come to an end. (Applause.)
Now, I don’t have to tell small business owners about why this failed law has got to go. You remember the good old days, when leaving a full-time job to start a small business was absolutely terrifying because there was no guarantee you’d be able get health insurance. So much less competition, remember? Good times. (Applause.)
See, literally the day after the election, one of the first decisions the President made – I’m speaking of President Bannon, here, of course, he’s the one who actually makes decisions – was that the number-one priority in the Congress would be to repeal and replace Obamacare.
And we worked with leaders in the Congress in the intervening months to go to work on that. We’ve made incredible progress. That’s why Congressional Republicans are running from the idea of repeal as fast as their feet will carry them. That’s progress, people. Progress. (Applause.)
We’re going to do all this and more, so that everyone can climb the ladder of opportunity in the days ahead. But America’s greatness isn’t simply about policy. Ultimately the strength of this country comes from our people. All of us, with very few exceptions, are descended from those who came here to this country, looking for a brighter future. Some were brought here involuntarily, but still. Our Native American brothers and sisters were here when we arrived, but we took care of that pretty quickly.
In his joint address to the Congress just last week, the Quote-Unquote “President” made a couple more promises. He promised to restore and respect the laws of this country. Now, that includes the important work that’s before us today – securing our borders, upholding our laws.
The Quote-Unquote “President” and I believe that a system based on the rule of law will benefit every American, including our Hispanic Americans. Well, the ones that good upstanding white people like myself decide to let stay here, anyway. (Applause.)
Now, for my part, I take all this very personally. You see, I’m actually the grandson of an immigrant. The story in my family was that nearly a century ago, my great-grandmother walked my grandfather out of that two-room house they lived in, in northwestern Ireland, walked up the hill across from their home, looked out at the Ox Mountains, and looked to the west. And she told him she was going to get him a one-way ticket to America because, she said, there’s a future there for you.
Richard Michael Cawley stepped ashore on Ellis Island as a young man on April 11, 1923. And that’s how Michael Richard Pence grew up to be Vice President of the United States of America. (Applause.)
On Inauguration Day, I’ll be honest with you, I had him on my heart and on my mind. And as I sat on that stage, as I raised my right hand, I couldn’t imagine what that Irishman was thinking, looking down from glory. Except two thoughts. I’m sure he was very surprised. (Laughter.) Because he knew me well. The other thing I think he had to conclude is that, now that the family he created on these shores had made good, I should do everything possible to pull the ladder we’d climbed up behind us as fast as I could. Because his mother was right about America. It is the land of opportunity. It’s the place where dreams come true. And now that our American dream has come true, it’s imperative that we freeze things just as they are before anyone else has the chance to take it away from us.
Let’s get to work. (Applause.) Thanks, everybody. God bless you, and God bless the United States. (Applause.)
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