The following 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 will likely play a role in the 2024 elections. Yesterday, our Robert Costa went to Iowa and spoke with one of those 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 it. I think the fact the Biden administration allowed Mifepristone to be made available on a mail order basis was a- a fundamental change. Even in states that have limited abortion. I'd like to see this medication off the market to protect the unborn. But also, I- I have deep concerns about the way the FDA went about approving Mifepristone 20 years ago. I'm grateful that action is being taken in the courts to hold the FDA accountable to what the law requires in reviewing any medication that's made on the marketplace. So for the sake of protecting the unborn, but also for the health and safety of women, I- I'm looking forward to this- this litigation continuing and holding the manufacturers of Mifepristone accountable. And ultimately, and putting the interests of women first.
ROBERT COSTA: The FDA has disputed claims that it's unsafe, saying that serious complications are rare, and less than 1 percent of patients need hospitalization. That's their position.
PENCE: Well, I understand that, Robert, but under the Obama administration, the FDA actually stopped chronicling non fatal results of Mifepristone. And one of the things that I hope changes in the course of this litigation is the FDA gets back to reporting to the American people all of the health impacts. But I do believe this issue bears upon the health and safety of women and we've got to hold the FDA accountable to the law.
ROBERT COSTA: This issue is also very, very big right now in the Republican Party. There's a real debate. Anti-abortion activist Marjorie Dannenfelser, has said that anyone who takes former President Trump's position – that states should decide what happens on abortion – she has called that a morally indefensible position. Do you agree?
PENCE: The cause of restoring the sanctity of life to the center of American law is the calling of our time. The Supreme Court in the Dobbs decision last June gave the American people a new beginning for life. It returned the question of abortion to the states and to the American people. But it didn't just return it exclusively to the states. And that's where I disagree with the former president. This isn't a states only decision. We have elected representatives in the Congress of the United States and we'll elect a president again in 2024. And I think the American people would welcome a minimum national standard in Washington, D.C., 15 weeks.
ROBERT COSTA: Is former President Trump in retreat on the abortion front?
PENCE: Well, I'd- I'd leave that to others.
ROBERT COSTA: What's your take?
PENCE: You can ask him--
ROBERT COSTA: Your top aide Marc Short has said, on the record, former President Trump is in retreat.
PENCE: Well- I- I- That- that's a great question for him. I couldn't be more proud to have been Vice President in the administration that appointed three of the justices to the Supreme Court that sent Roe v. Wade to the ash heap of history. But Robert, now, we're in a new season, and I think millions of pro-life Americans want to see us seize every opportunity to put the interests of- of- of the unborn first and also, in equal measure, to demonstrate the generosity and compassion of the American people, toward women who've been caught up in abortion in the last 50 years, and women who find themselves in a crisis pregnancy today.
PART TWO: GUNS AND POLITICS
ROBERT COSTA: There has been a spate of gun violence in recent weeks, and it's at times, legal gun owners shooting people who come up to their door, on a driveway, in a parking lot. What is happening in America, and can anything be done to dial down the fear and the violence?
MIKE PENCE: Well, our- our hearts go out to the families of lost loved ones in the incidents in- in Kansas City, and in upstate New York. I just can't imagine the pain that they're enduring in that tragedy, but tragedy should not require us to forfeit our liberty. And the right of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms is enshrined in the Constitution of the United States. I don't know the facts of those cases, I'm confident that local law enforcement will move forward and apply the law in a proper way. But I can't help but suspect that this recent spate of tragedies is evidence of the fear that so many Americans are feeling about the crime wave besetting this country.
ROBERT COSTA: But I think most people would agree, even if you have fear about crime in your community, there's no excuse to be just shooting at somebody at your door or in your- in a parking lot.
PENCE: I can't imagine the circumstances that I read about in the press in either of those cases. And- and I'm- I'm sure local law enforcement will hold people to a proper accounting. I- but I- but at the end of the day, I- I just wonder- I wonder if it isn't some reflection of the fear the American people feel about the crime wave that's impacting our country, literally from coast to coast.
ROBERT COSTA: You have agreed to appear before the special counsel's–
PENCE: I have.
ROBERT COSTA: –ongoing grand jury investigating January 6, with some constraints on your testimony. Have you set a date with the special counsel about your appearance?
PENCE: Well, our- our attorneys have worked that out with the Justice Department. But I will say I'm grateful that the court recognized that there are specific constitutional protections unique to the Vice President, when you're serving in your role as president of the Senate. I thought it was important to make that challenge, for the first time in history a federal court acknowledged that that provision of the Constitution applies to the Vice President and they've- they've limited what they'll be requesting of me, but well beyond that I can tell--
ROBERT COSTA: Help us understand that a little bit--
PENCE: --you, Robert we'll- we'll obey the law, we'll tell the truth and the story that I've been telling the American people all across the country, the story that I wrote in the pages of my memoir, that'll- that'll be what I tell in that setting as well.
ROBERT COSTA: But for a lay person who's not a lawyer, what are the constraints, in your view, on your upcoming testimony? Will you, for example, be able to testify, in your view, about the private conversations you've had with President Trump. Is that within the range of what you could do before the grand jury?
PENCE: I think I'm limited about what I can say about the proceedings of the grand jury or the decision of the judge, but people can be confident that we'll- we'll obey the law, we'll comply with the law. But I gotta tell you, Robert, nobody's talking to me about this.
ROBERT COSTA: Fox News just settled with Dominion for $787 million over false claims that were on the network. Any reaction?
PENCE: Well, I- I would assume that, that Fox News determined what- what the appropriate settlement was and what the exposure was, in that case. I can't- I can't really speak to it. That was not a time in my life that I was watching a lot of television, Robert, I was focused on the task at hand, focused on doing our duty under the Constitution of the United States. The role that you and your network, and other members of the media play is vital to our democracy. And I'll always stand for a free and independent press even when I don't agree with what you say or do.
ROBERT COSTA: It's almost May. When are you going to decide on whether you are running for the Republican nomination?
PENCE: Well, we're getting awful close. But I don't have anything to announce today, Robert, but I- I promise--
ROBERT COSTA: Will you make a hard decision by late June?
PENCE: I think anyone that would be serious about seeking the Republican nomination would need to be in this contest by June, and--
ROBERT COSTA: So you will make a decision by late June?
PENCE: I- I think if- if we have an announcement to make, it'll be well before late June.
ROBERT COSTA: Well before. But are you leaning in or are you leaning away from running?
PENCE: Well, I'm here in Iowa, Robert.
ROBERT COSTA: That's a tell.
PENCE: Look, I love this country. And I think America is in a lot of trouble. And what I hear people telling me is that the challenges that we're facing in an increasingly dangerous world, the challenge that we're facing in this economy with inflation at a 40-year high, a crisis at our border, are going to require someone who has the ability to step in on day one, and set our country back on a path towards security and prosperity. And so we're thinking very deeply about that. And as I said, I–
ROBERT COSTA: Sounds like you're leaning in.
PENCE: I don't have anything to announce today, but–
ROBERT COSTA: Sounds like you're leaning in. Leaning toward it versus away.
PENCE: I- I would tell you that I'm very humbled by the encouragement that we're receiving. And I promise when we have something to announce, you'll be among the first to know.
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