Below is the full transcript of an interview with former Vice President Mike Pence that aired on Face the Nation on April 23, 2023.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The issue of abortion is likely to play a role in the 2024 election. Yesterday, our Robert Costa went to Iowa and spoke with one of the potential Republican candidates, former Vice President Mike Pence, and asked him about the court’s decision.
PART ONE: ABORTION
MIKE PENCE: You know, I’m pro-life. I don’t apologize for this. I think the fact that the Biden administration allowed mail-order mifepristone was a fundamental change. Even in states where abortion is restricted. I would like this medicine to be taken off the market to protect the unborn. But I’m also — I’m deeply concerned about how the FDA approved mifepristone 20 years ago. I am grateful that action is being taken in the courts to hold the FDA accountable for what the law requires in reviewing any drug that is made on the market. So for the sake of protecting the unborn, and for the health and safety of women, I – I’m looking forward to this – continue this lawsuit and hold the manufacturers of mifepristone accountable. And ultimately, put the interests of women first.
ROBERT COSTA: The FDA disputes claims that it’s unsafe, saying serious complications are rare and less than 1 percent of patients need to be hospitalized. This is their position.
PENCE: Well, I understand that, Robert, but under the Obama administration, the FDA actually stopped chronicling the nonfatal results of mifepristone. And one of the things that I hope will change in this trial is that the FDA is going back to telling the American people about all the health implications. But I believe this issue is about women’s health and safety, and we need to hold the FDA accountable to the law.
ROBERT COSTA: This is a very, very relevant issue for the Republican Party right now. There is a real discussion going on. Anti-abortion activist Marjorie Dannenfelser said that anyone who adheres to former President Trump’s position that states should decide what to do about abortion, she called this position morally indefensible. Do you agree?
PENCE: The cause of restoring the integrity of life at the center of American law is the calling of our times. The Supreme Court ruling in the Dobbs case last June gave the American people a fresh start in life. He brought the issue of abortion back to the states and the American people. But he didn’t just return it exclusively to the states. And in this I do not agree with the former president. This is not just a state decision. We have elected representatives to the United States Congress and will elect a President again in 2024. And I think the American people would welcome the minimum national standard in Washington, DC, 15 weeks.
ROBERT COSTA: Is former President Trump backing down on abortion?
PENCE: Well, I would… I would leave it to others.
ROBERT COSTA: What do you think?
PENCE: You can ask him…
ROBERT COSTA: Your top aide, Mark Short, has officially announced that former President Trump is resigning.
PENCE: Well…I…I…that’s…that’s a great question for him. I am very proud to have served as vice president in the administration that appointed three justices to the Supreme Court that ruled in Roe v. Get into the dustbin of history. But Robert, we are now in a new season, and I think that millions of pro-life Americans want us to take every opportunity to put the interests of the unborn first and also, equally, to demonstrate the generosity and compassion of the American people to women who have been forced to have abortions in the past 50 years, and to women who are having crisis pregnancies today.
PART TWO: WEAPONS AND POLITICS
ROBERT COSTA: There’s been an upsurge of gun violence in recent weeks, and sometimes legitimate gun owners shoot people who walk up to their door, in their driveway, in the parking lot. What is happening in America and can anything be done to reduce the fear and violence?
MIKE PENCE: Well, our… our hearts go out to the families of the victims of the incidents in Kansas City and upstate New York. I just can’t imagine the pain they go through in this tragedy, but tragedy shouldn’t require us to lose our freedom. And the right of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms is enshrined in the US Constitution. I do not know the facts of these cases, I am sure that local law enforcement will move forward and apply the law properly. But I cannot help suspecting that this recent wave of tragedies is indicative of the fear many Americans feel about the wave of crime that is sweeping this country.
ROBERT COSTA: But I think most people would agree that even if you’re afraid of crime in your area, there’s no excuse for just shooting someone at your door or in the parking lot.
PENCE: I can’t imagine the circumstances I read about in the press on any of these occasions. And… and I… I’m sure local law enforcement will hold people to account. I… but I… but at the end of the day, I… I’m just wondering… wondering if this is a reflection of the fear the American people feel about the wave of crime that has swept our country literally from the coast. to the coast.
ROBERT COSTA: You agreed to appear before the special prosecutor…
ROBERT COSTA: An ongoing grand jury investigation on January 6th with some restrictions on your testimony. Did you negotiate with the special counsel about your appearance?
PENCE: Well, our… our lawyers settled it with the Justice Department. But I must say that I am grateful to the court that the court has recognized that there are special constitutional protections unique to the vice president when you are in your role as chairman of the Senate. I thought it was important to challenge, for the first time in history, a federal court has recognized that this provision of the Constitution applies to the vice president, and they have limited what they will require of me, but much more than what I can say–
ROBERT COSTA: Help us understand this a little…
PENCE: –you Robert, we… we will obey the law, we will tell the truth and the story that I have told the American people across the country, the story that I have written in the pages of my memoirs, that will be what I will tell and in this setting.
ROBERT COSTA: But for a layman who is not a lawyer, what do you think are the limits to your forthcoming testimony? Can you, for example, testify, in your opinion, about your private conversations with President Trump. Is that within the scope of what you could do in front of a grand jury?
PENCE: I think I’m limited in what I can say about the grand jury or the judge’s decision, but people can be sure that we will — we will obey the law, we will obey the law. But I have to tell you, Robert, no one has spoken to me about this.
ROBERT COSTA: Fox News just paid Dominion $787 million for false claims that were online. Any reaction?
PENCE: Well, I … I would guess that in this case, Fox News determined what the settlement was appropriate and what the exposure was. I can’t… I can’t talk about it. It wasn’t a period in my life where I watched a lot of TV, Robert, I was focused on the task at hand, focused on doing our duty under the United States Constitution. The role that you, your network and other members of the media play is vital to our democracy. And I will always stand for a free and independent press, even if I don’t agree with what you say or do.
ROBERT COSTA: It’s almost May, when will you decide whether you will run as a Republican?
PENCE: Well, we’re very close. But I don’t have anything to announce today, Robert, but I… promise…
ROBERT COSTA: Will you make a difficult decision by the end of June?
PENCE: I think anyone who is serious about the Republican nomination should be in this contest by June, and…
ROBERT COSTA: So you will make a decision by the end of June?
PENCE: I… I think if… if we make an announcement, it will be long before the end of June.
ROBERT COSTA: Long before that. But do you lean or dodge your run?
PENCE: Robert, I’m here in Iowa.
ROBERT COSTA: That’s a hint.
PENCE: Look, I love this country. And I think America has a lot of problems. And I hear people tell me that the problems we face in an increasingly dangerous world, the problems we face in this economy with inflation at a 40-year high, a crisis on our border, will need someone who can intervene on the first day and return our country to the path of security and prosperity. And so we think very deeply about it. And as I said, I
ROBERT COSTA: Looks like you’re leaning.
PENCE: I don’t have anything to announce today, but…
ROBERT COSTA: You seem to be leaning towards that. Lean towards it, not away from it.
PENCE: I… I would tell you that I’m very flattered by the support we’re getting. And I promise you, when we have something to announce, you’ll be among the first to know.