Vice President Mike Pence officially offered a welcome to pro-life Democrats, explaining that they “have a home” in the Republican Party in response to prominent Democrats saying that abortion rights are integral to their party's agenda.
Speaking at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday, Pence touched on several topics when speaking before the large conservative gathering outside Washington, D.C.
On the issue of abortion, Pence declared that “I couldn’t be more proud to be vice president to a president who stands without apology for the sanctity of human life.”
“This president reinstituted the Mexico City Policy to make sure that no taxpayer dollars will be used to promote or provide abortions overseas,” Pence said.
“He made history by becoming the first president to attend the March for Life last month, on the National Mall. And he signed legislation to make it possible for every state to deny Title X funding to abortion providers.”
Pence then talked about the Democratic candidates, making an appeal to members of the Democratic Party who identify as pro-life.
“Life is winning in America,” he said. “That’s what makes it so remarkable that every leading Democrat running for president has actually said that there’s no room in today’s Democratic Party for pro-life voters.”
“So let me say to every pro-life American, Republican, independent, or Democrat: You have a home in today’s Republican Party.”
Pence’s comments come amid debate among Democratic presidential candidates about what place, if any, pro-life individuals have in the party.
For example, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., declared at an event in New Hampshire that it was “absolutely essential” for a Democrat to be pro-choice on abortion.
“By this time in history, I think when we talk about what a Democrat is, I think being pro-choice is an essential part of that,” said Sanders at the “Our Rights, Our Courts” forum in Concord earlier this month.
At a town hall in Iowa, former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg was asked by Kristen Day, executive director of Democrats For Life of America, about whether he would support more “moderate platform language.”
“Well, I respect where you're coming from, and I hope to earn your vote. But I'm not going to try to earn your vote by tricking you. I am pro-choice. And I believe that a woman ought to be able to make that decision,” responded Buttigieg.
“The best I can offer is that if we can't agree on where to draw the line, the next best thing we can do is agree on who should draw the line. And in my view, it's the woman who's faced with that decision in her own life.”
For her part, Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota said on an episode of ABC’s “The View” that the party should be accepting of pro-life Democrats.
“I believe we are a big tent party and there are pro-life Democrats and they are part of our party,” stated Klobuchar, who said she herself is and has always been pro-choice.
“I think we need to build a big tent. I think we need to bring people in instead of shutting them out. That also includes independents right here in New Hampshire and moderate Republicans.”
During his speech, Pence also touched on other topics, championing the Trump administration’s handling of the economy, trade, and immigration enforcement.
He touted the administration’s efforts against Islamic terrorism, such as their strikes against the Islamic State terrorist organization and the targeted killing of Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani.
He also discussed the response to fears over the coronavirus, telling those gathered that “President Donald Trump has no higher priority than the health, safety, and well-being of the American people.”
“Last month, following word of the outbreak of the coronavirus in China, President Trump took unprecedented action to protect the health of Americans,” explained Pence.
“He declared a public health emergency, we suspended travel from the United States to China, we initiated quarantine efforts for American citizens returning and established a White House coronavirus task force, which has literally met every single day to protect the American people.”
Pence explained that there have been, as of Thursday, 15 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the U.S., with “only one new case detected within the last two weeks.”
“While the risk to the American public remains low, as the president said yesterday, we’re ready, we’re ready for anything,” he noted. “We’re all in this together.”