Vice President Mike Pence Saturday hailed the accomplishments of the Trump administration and criticized former President Barack Obama for taking credit for its successes in a speech at the annual Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C.
Speaking at the evangelical conservative political conference hosted by the Family Research Council, Pence listed the administration's actions in the last two years that many Christians have supported, such as reinstating the Mexico City Policy that bans U.S. government funding of abortions overseas, promoting religious liberty worldwide, and moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Pence said that despite repeated promises from the last four administrations, "President Donald Trump kept his word to the American people and our most cherished ally when we opened the United States Embassy in Jerusalem, the capital of the state of Israel."
He further criticized Obama for ." In a speech on the campaign trail for Democratic candidates, Obama said, "When you hear how great the economy is doing right now, let's just remember when this recovery started."
"Well, I have a message for our former president: President Obama, you presided over the weakest economic expansion since the Great Depression. When we took over this economy was growing by less than 2 percent, and now it's growing by more than 4 percent. This economy isn't growing because of your policies, it's booming because we've been rolling back your policies," Pence retorted.
"While the last administration raised taxes on the American people, this president and this Congress passed the largest tax cuts in American history — that's promises made and promises kept," he said.
One of Obama-era policies the Trump administration has reversed is one that made it hard for state governments to defund Planned Parenthood. Trump signed a bill into law in April 2017 that allows states to withhold federal funds from Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers.
Similarly, this year, the Department of Health and Human Services unveiled a new division to defend the conscience rights of medical professionals who hold moral or religious objections to abortion or gender reassignment surgery.
"It was my great honor, as the president of the Senate, it was my great honor to cast the tie-breaking vote for a bill that President Trump signed to empower states to defund Planned Parenthood," Pence said.
To further protect Americans' religious liberty Pence said they have also "restored federal enforcement of conscience laws and ended the last administration's assault on the Little Sisters of the Poor," he said, speaking about the controversial Obamacare HHS mandate requiring organizations to provide health care coverage for contraception and abortifacients that many religious nonprofits fought against. The Trump administration broadened of the mandate's religious exemptions which ended a five-year legal battle for two Catholic diocese in Pennsylvania last year.
Promoting religious freedom worldwide, which Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addressed on Friday, is a foreign policy priority, added, calling out China, Iran and Nicaragua for their governments' attacks on Christians and other religious minorities.
"We've spoken out on China's brutal repression of its Christian, Buddhist and Muslim citizens. We've shined a light on Iran's barbaric treatment of Christians, Jews, Sunnis, Bahais and other religious minorities. We've called on the Ortega regime in Nicaragua to end the violence against the Catholic Church," he continued.
"And in the Middle East, the United States is no longer funding ineffective programs through the United Nations. For the first time ever, we are providing nearly $150 million to Christian and persecuted religious minorities to help them rebuild communities of faith."
The vice president added that they will continue to work to bring home Pastor Andrew Brunson who is under house arrest after being released from prison where he was detained after being arrested in 2016 and charged with what the U.S. government says are baseless terrorism crimes. If convicted, Brunson could face up to 35 years in prison. "Today
Pence assured the largely conservative audience that the Trump administration is "standing up" for their values and jobs, prosperity and security.
In a push to encourage conservatives vote in the midterm elections, Pence highlighted the differences between the Republican and Democrat candidates running in the 2018 elections.
"The choice couldn't be more clear," Pence added. "Today's Democratic Party is now running actual socialists for higher office. ... [They] want abortion on demand. Many of today's Democrats and their Hollywood friends find it fashionable to mock values of Americans. In fact, Hollywood elites routinely mock faith, family and patriotism.
Pence added that Former Vice President Joe Biden, during his speech for the LGBT advocacy organization Human Rights Campaign last Saturday, criticized Americans who opposed same-sex marriage and who voted for Trump as being "virulent people," and "forces of intolerance [who] remain determined to undermine and roll back the progress. ... Some of them the dregs of society."
"The truth is," Pence retorted, "faith, family, hard work and patriotism are the glue that has bound the fabric of our nation for generations," he said, urging Values Voters to "keep the faith" and defend their values.
The annual Values Voter Summit was held in Washington, D.C. from Sept. 21–23 and feature many social conservatives including Tony Perkins, Bill Bennett, Dr. Ben Carson, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and evangelist Will Graham.