Transcript: Vice President Mike Pence on "Face the Nation," June 28, 2020

Full: Pence on "Face the Nation"
Full: Pence on "Face the Nation" 28:03

The following is a transcript of an interview with Vice President Mike Pence that aired Sunday, June 28, 2020, on "Face the Nation."


JOHN DICKERSON: Mr. Vice President, some of the states that are having the biggest spites- spikes are the big ones -- Texas, California, Arizona. Are you concerned?

VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: Well, we're monitoring very closely new cases in Florida, Texas, Arizona, and California. In fact, I'll be traveling with members of our team to several of those states over the next several days to make sure and get a ground report.  But what the American people should know is that because of the leadership that President Trump has provided, because of the extraordinary innovation that we have brought to this task, we are- we're in a much better place to respond to these outbreaks than we were four months ago. I mean, today we are now testing 500,000 Americans a day. We're able to do a great deal more surveillance and community testing than ever before. We've also expanded our- our health care capacity across the country, literally seeing delivered billions in personal protective equipment, ventilators. And most importantly in this moment is we've seen the development and distribution of therapeutics that have literally been saving lives around the country. And we believe by the end of this year, it's likely we'll have a vaccine.

JOHN DICKERSON: So you say that the country is in a better place in this moment. 

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: It is. 

JOHN DICKERSON: But- but the experts say we shouldn't be in this moment we're in. And I'll read you a few. Dr. Anthony Fauci says there is a disturbing surge of infections. The governor of Texas, Governor Abbott, says there is a massive outbreak. In the Wall Street Journal 10 days ago, you said 20,000 cases was a good number relative to where they've been. This week, there've been 40,000 cases. Your level of concern -- I understand you're saying what's been done -- seems insufficient to the alarm from governors and experts.

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: No, we're- let me be very clear that we are focused, our entire team is focused on working with governors to make sure that we meet this moment and support the efforts at state level to- to provide--

JOHN DICKERSON: But why did we get here at all? 

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: --the kind of steps that will- will mitigate these new cases. But there's another way, John, that this is different from early on. And that is that one of the things that we've heard in Texas and Florida in particular is that nearly half of those who are testing positive are Americans under the age of 35. That's contributing to the fact that- that those that are requiring to be hospitalized, who are testing positive for coronavirus is significantly lower than it was two months ago. And so we really believe that- that what- what is happening here is a combination of increased testing -- we're able to test a great deal more Americans than we were able to several months ago -- but it also may be indication that as we're opening our economy up, that- that younger Americans have- have been congregating in ways that may have disregarded the guidance that we gave on the federal level for all the phases of reopening. And I think that's why you see several governors taking action--to- to- to- to- to essentially try and- and- and prevent further increases in those new cases.

JOHN DICKERSON: The spike states are also states that are reopening early, and the administration is focused a lot on the economy, trying to get it reopened. 

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Right. 

JOHN DICKERSON: The- The states that are reopening are having some of the biggest problems. Did the reopening happen too early?

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Well, all 50 states are opening up again to one degree or another. And I know there's a temptation to associate the new cases in the Sunbelt with reopening, but it's important to remember that- that states like Florida and like Texas actually began to open up in- in early May. For the better part of six weeks, John, we did not see any significant movement. In my conversations with governors in Florida and in Texas and in Arizona in particular, we're monitoring very closely their hospitalization rate. And we continue to be very confident that they have the supplies and the support and the capacity to give people the render- the level of care that any of us would want a family member to have.

JOHN DICKERSON: You're talking about being able to monitor the situation. The argument is that the situation shouldn't be existing in the first place. Europe waited longer to reopen and they have seen less trouble in reopening. In Florida since Memorial Day, which was a new stage of reopening, cases are up 165 percent. There are almost 10,000 cases in a single day in Florida. Something happened. And it's not just a question of monitoring. The- the experts are saying these states walked into a problem with their eyes wide open because they opened too early. And that's a mistake, which seems to repeat the original mistake, which was to downplay and not take seriously the nature of the threat.

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Well, I- I beg to differ about the reopening and I beg to differ about downplaying. On- on the second point, I mean, President Trump suspended all travel from China before the first case of community transition- transmission occurred in the United States. 

JOHN DICKERSON: There were nine cases when he did that. 

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: We stood up- well, no, not- not- there were- there were cases in the United States of people who had returned to this country but the first case of community transmission would occur weeks later. And he stood up the White House Coronavirus Task Force and everything I've described about- about an unprecedented scaling of testing, the development of billions of- of medical supplies, ventilators, the development of therapeutic medicines like Remdesivir and others that are being developed, the launch in record time of a vaccine development. But as we've arrived at this moment, it's clear across the Sunbelt that there's something happening, particularly among younger Americans. And that's why we fully support Governor Abbott's decision to close bars and limit restaurants. We fully support--

JOHN DICKERSON: But bars should never have been open--

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: --steps taken in Florida and elsewhere. And we'll continue to support those efforts.

JOHN DICKERSON: Why not ask people to wear masks?

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Well, we believe people should wear masks wherever--

JOHN DICKERSON: Why doesn't the president say that? 

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: -- social distancing is not possible, wherever it's indicated by either state or local authorities. And, you know, the- the president has worn a mask. I wore a mask on several occasions this week. 

JOHN DICKERSON: Governor Abbott in Texas has said the precondition for opening the economy is wearing a mask. Wear the mask, he said, we'll keep the economy open. You and the president care a lot about keeping the economy open. The message on masks has been muddled. Why doesn't the president, who has some suasion in the country, come forward and say everybody should wear a mask, which is what all the governors are saying? Why has he been kind of muddling that message?

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Well, first, we- we believe that every state has a unique situation. And I want to be clear, while- while we're monitoring about 16 states that are seeing outbreaks, it represents about 4 percent of all the counties in this country, 34 states are not seeing a rise in positivity and they have different measures, different requirements and different guidance in place. I mean one of the- one of the- one of the elements of the genius of America is the principle of federalism, of state and local control. We've made it clear that we want to defer to governors. We want to defer to local officials,--

JOHN DICKERSON: But Mr. Vice President--

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: --and people should listen to them. 

JOHN DICKERSON: The virus doesn't know federalism. A virus that hits in Texas is in New York tomorrow. This is a problem that requires a coordinated national result, which is what these outbreaks are showing. And so to say, states should deal with them individually seems to miss the big fact, which is the virus can go wherever it wants.

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: John, if we'd have taken that approach, we'd have never had the success that we had in the greater New York City area. We'd have never had the success in Michigan or New Orleans, because from early on, we worked closely in partnership with governors to make sure that they had what they needed when they needed it, tailored to the unique circumstances in their states. And- and when you look at the extraordinary progress that we made in New York and in Connecticut and in New Jersey and New Orleans and in Michigan and in -- early on in states like Washington State where we- we flattened the curve, we slowed the spread, and we did it at a time early in this pandemic where we were just scaling testing up.

JOHN DICKERSON: You mentioned testing. To get the economy open again, testing has to happen. The president said if we didn't do testing, we'd have no cases. That's wrong and misleading. Given how important testing is, why is the president saying things that are wrong and misleading about testing?

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Well, I think it's inarguable that the historic increase in testing that we've accomplished in this country has played a role in the new cases, particularly among younger Americans. John, I want to remind your viewers that two months ago, in most states in this country, we were not testing people that had no symptoms or were below a certain age. 

JOHN DICKERSON: But Mr.- but Mr. Vice President--

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: We were focusing on seniors. 

JOHN DICKERSON: I understand.

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: We were focusing on those with symptoms. But now, because of the public-private partnership that President Trump initiated, we're literally able to test anyone in the country that would--

JOHN DICKERSON: But--

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: --want a test--

JOHN DICKERSON: I understand.

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: --to come forward. We scaled it with great American innovation--

JOHN DICKERSON: But Mr. Vice President, 125,000 Americans have died. We're six months into this. Testing is crucial to get the economy opening- opened and because of public health.

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Right.

JOHN DICKERSON: And the president of the United States, with the biggest megaphone on the planet, is saying something about testing that is wrong and misleading. Is that the standard we want for the president of the United States?

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: John, the president was observing the fact that rising cases, which is -- which the media has focused exclusively on -- has been--

JOHN DICKERSON: Why is that vital to getting this problem solved?

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: --has been in part a result of increased testing. What- what the media doesn't focus on at all is because of the sacrifices the American people made in those 45 days to slow the spread and the good commonsense measures they continue to do, we've continued to see fatalities decline. I grieve for every American family that lost a loved one, for the more than 125,000 Americans that we've lost in this. We're going to continue to take steps to protect the most vulnerable,--

JOHN DICKERSON: But--

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: --and testing will be a critical part of that going forward. 

JOHN DICKERSON: But, Mr. Vice-- it's- testing is critical to protect and to open the economy. In a public health crisis, information and confidence in that information is crucial,--

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Right. 

JOHN DICKERSON: --as you know so well. So why does the person with the best megaphone say things to undermine confidence in testing? It seems totally at odds with what you're spending all your day doing. This isn't a triviality. This is an important, crucial thing about testing.

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Well, John, I just- I just disagree that the president's undermining confidence in testing, he observed--

JOHN DICKERSON: Repeatedly.

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: --that- that the volume of new cases is in part a result of all of- of the rapid scaling of testing that we've done around the country.

SECTION 2

JOHN DICKERSON: What do you hear the protesters saying when they protest?

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Well, it's- it's been a focus of ours since the tragic killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. There's no excuse for what happened to George Floyd. But there's also no excuse for the rioting and looting and violence that ensued. Look, the president engaged law enforcement leaders. We've sat down with leaders in the African American community. I've- I've met with leaders in the African American community and- and law enforcement in cities around this country. And what I hear is while- while the radical left says we need to defund the police, what the American people want is for us to fund the police with additional training and support and also improve the lives of the people in our African American community, which I'm proud to say, under President Trump's leadership, we were doing over the last three years. We don't- we don't need to choose between supporting law enforcement and supporting our African American neighbors. 

JOHN DICKERSON: One--

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: We can do both. And that's how we bring our country together.

JOHN DICKERSON: One thing protesters would like to hear is leaders say black lives matter. You won't say that. Why?

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: All my life, I've been inspired by the example of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. When I was in Congress, I traveled to his home church in Montgomery with Congressman John Lewis. I walked across the Edmund Pettus Bridge on the anniversary of Bloody Sunday. I cherish the progress that we have made toward a more perfect union for African Americans throughout our history. And I've- I've aspired throughout my career to be a part of that ongoing work. It's really a heart issue for me. And as a pro-life American, I also believe that all life matters, born and unborn. But what- what I see in the leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement is a political agenda of the radical left that would defund the police, that would--

JOHN DICKERSON: Leave that out of it. Just the phrase.

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: --tear down monuments, that would- that would press a radical left agenda that, and- and- and support calls for the kind of violence that has beset the very communities that they say that they're advocating for.

JOHN DICKERSON: But the- but the- sir,--

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: We- I've- I've literally met- I've literally met with African American leaders around this country and in the national capital area who've- who made it clear to us they- they want law and order. They- they want peace in our streets.

JOHN DICKERSON: So you won't say black lives matter? 

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: John, I really believe that all lives matter.

JOHN DICKERSON: OK.

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: And that's where the heart of the American people lies. And we're going to continue to stand strong. We're going to continue to stand strong with Americans that- that want to see us come together as a nation. And we're going to carry that message all the way to November and for four more years. 

JOHN DICKERSON: All right. Thank you, Mr. Vice President.

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Thank you, John.


Below is a full transcript of John Dickerson's interview with Vice President Mike Pence


JOHN DICKERSON: The caseload in 31 states, according to Johns Hopkins, has gone up. Some of the states that are having the biggest spites- spikes are the big ones, Texas, California, Arizona. Are you concerned?

VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: Well, we're monitoring very closely new cases in Florida, Texas, Arizona, and California. In fact, I'll be traveling with members of our team to several of those states over the next several days to make sure and get a ground report.  But what the American people should know is that because of the leadership that President Trump has provided, because of the extraordinary innovation that we have brought to this task, we are- we're in a much better place to respond to these outbreaks than we were four months ago. I mean, today we are now testing 500,000 Americans a day. We're able to do a great deal more surveillance and community testing than ever before. We've also expanded our- our health care capacity across the country, literally seeing delivered billions in personal protective equipment, ventilators. And most importantly in this moment is we've seen the development and distribution of therapeutics that have literally been saving lives around the country. And we believe by the end of this year, it's likely we'll have a vaccine. So as we- as we look at this moment, I just- I want the American people to know that we're ready. We're working closely with governors in all of the southern states to make sure that they have the testing, the resources and the medicines to meet this moment. And that's all a tribute of the president's leadership, of our partnership with governors around the country.

JOHN DICKERSON: So you say that the country is in a better place in this moment. 

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: It is. 

JOHN DICKERSON: But- but the experts say we shouldn't be in this moment we're in. And I'll read you a few. Dr. Anthony Fauci says there is a disturbing surge of infections. The governor of Texas, Governor Abbott, says there is a massive outbreak. In the Wall Street Journal 10 days ago, you said 20,000 cases was a good number relative to where they've been. This week, there've been 40,000 cases. 

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: That's right. 

JOHN DICKERSON: Twice what you said was a good level. 

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: That's right. 

JOHN DICKERSON: Your level of concern, I understand you're saying what's been done, seems insufficient to the alarm from governors and experts.

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: No, we're- let me be very clear that we are focused, our entire team is focused on working with governors to make sure that we meet this moment and support the efforts at state levels to- to provide--

JOHN DICKERSON: But why did we get here at all? 

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: --the kind of steps that will- will mitigate these new cases. But there's another way, JOHN, that this is different from early on. And that is that one of the things that we've heard in Texas and Florida in particular is that nearly half of those who are testing positive are Americans under the age of 35. That's contributing to the fact that- that those that are requiring to be hospitalized, who are testing positive for coronavirus is significantly lower than it was two months ago. And so we really believe that- that what- what is happening here is a combination of increased testing. We're able to test a great deal more Americans than we were able to several months ago. But it also may be indication that as we're opening our economy up, that- that younger Americans have- have been congregating--

JOHN DICKERSON: Right. 

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: --in ways that may have disregarded the guidance that we gave on the federal level for all the phases of reopening. And I think that's why you see several governors taking action--

JOHN DICKERSON: Yeah. 

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: --to- to- to- to- to essentially try and- and- and prevent further increases in those new cases.

JOHN DICKERSON: But you don't want to leave the impression that this is just an increase in testing, because what's vital here, according to the experts, is that the percentage of positive cases has gone up, that something is happening here more than just an increase in cases because there's more testing.

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Well, in 34 states, the positivity rate is not going up. And- and we continue to see states across the country safely reopening and enjoying a measure of stability. And the success, of course, in the New York City area, in New Orleans and Michigan, where we are dealing with outbreaks two months ago, is an incredible tribute to the people of those states and to the people of this country who embrace those 45 days to slow the spread. But to your point, JOHN, it's- it's clear that testing isn't the only reason that we're seeing more cases, but it's a significant reason. It's inarguable that at a time that we're able to do 500,000 tests a day, more than 30 million tests nationwide, that now we're able to test a great number of Americans that have no symptoms where early on in this pandemic, we literally were limiting testing to people of a certain age group, most notably seniors, and also people that had symptoms of the coronavirus. 

JOHN DICKERSON: Let me--

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Now we test everyone. 

JOHN DICKERSON: Yeah. 

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: We're testing many more young people. And- and that's a good thing because we're able to ensure that younger Americans for whom the risk of a serious outcome is- is not significant if they don't have an underlying condition. But we want to make sure those younger Americans know not to expose someone who is vulnerable to a serious outcome. And that's a big part of our message.

JOHN DICKERSON: The spike states are also states that are reopening early, and the administration is focused a lot on the economy, trying to get it reopened. 

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Right. 

JOHN DICKERSON: The states that are reopening are having some of the biggest problems. Did the reopening happen too early?

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Well, all 50 states are opening up again to one degree or another. And I know there's a temptation to associate the new cases in the Sunbelt with reopening, but it's important to remember that- that states like Florida and like Texas actually began to open up in- in early May. Shortly after we ended 45 days to slow the spread, we gave guidelines for opening up America and those states and Arizona moved very quickly into opening and for- and for the better part of six weeks, JOHN, we did not see any significant movement. That's why our experts believe something else is going on here. And we think it has to do with a combination of factors. We think it's- it's young people congregating without practicing the kind of social distancing necessary--

JOHN DICKERSON: So should they stop congregating?

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Or also, it's also agricultural workers. 

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: We've seen that prevalent in a number of the states where people not only work together, but they live together in communal settings. And so we've focused on that. We're focusing on these outbreaks in- in the counties in these major states.

JOHN DICKERSON: But here's- here's the thing--

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: But we remain very confident, JOHN. The important thing is the American people should know that the reason we ask the people of this country to take 45 days to slow the spread, to- to flatten the curve is because we wanted to stand up the capacity in our health care system. We wanted to scale testing, but we also wanted to make sure that we had personal protective equipment, that we had ventilators, that we were developing the kind of medicines that would bring relief to people that became ill and we've done that. 

JOHN DICKERSON: Well,--

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: And in my conversations with governors in Florida and in Texas and in Arizona in particular, we're monitoring very closely their hospitalization rate. And we continue to be very confident that they have the supplies and the support and the capacity to give people the render- the level of care that any of us would want a family member to have.

JOHN DICKERSON: You're talking about being able to monitor the situation. The argument is that the situation shouldn't be existing in the first place. Europe waited longer to reopen and they have seen less trouble in reopening. In Florida since Memorial Day, which was a new stage of reopening, cases are up 165%. There are almost 10,000 cases in a single day in Florida. Something happened. And it's not just a question of monitoring. The- the experts are saying these states walked into a problem with their eyes wide open because they opened too early. And that's a mistake, which seems to repeat the original mistake, which was to downplay and not take seriously the nature of the threat.

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Well, I- I beg to differ about the reopening and I beg to differ about downplaying. On- on the second point, I mean, President Trump suspended all travel from China before the first case of community transition- transmission occurred in the United States. 

JOHN DICKERSON: There were nine cases when he did that. 

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: We stood up- well, no, not- not- there were- there were cases in the United States of people who had returned to this country but the first case of community transmission would occur weeks later. And he stood up the White House Coronavirus Task Force and everything I've described about- about an unprecedented scaling of testing, the development of billions of- of medical supplies, ventilators, the development of therapeutic medicines like remdesivir and others that are being developed, the launch in record time of a vaccine development is all- it's all evidence of the fact that there was- there was an urgent effort from very beginning--

JOHN DICKERSON: But, Mr. Vice President,--

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: --to deal with the coronavirus and I- I want to be very clear. When we ended the 45 days to slow the spread, we gave guidelines for a phased reopening of this country. And states across the country, now all 50 states, are implementing that phased reopening. We're putting America back to work because America works when America is working. And- but as we've arrived at this moment, it's clear across the Sunbelt that there's something happening, particularly among younger Americans. And that's why we fully support Governor Abbott's decision to close bars and limit restaurants. We fully support--

JOHN DICKERSON: But bars should never have been open--

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: --steps taken in Florida and elsewhere. And we'll continue to support those efforts. But I-- The American people- the American people, I think, should take great pride in what we as a nation have done over the last four months to put ourselves in a position where we're ready. We've laid a solid foundation in our health care system to be able to deal with this pandemic in the- in the days ahead. And as I said, JOHN, we're developing medicines and we're developing vaccines. And make no mistake about it, the therapeutics, our health care system and the efforts that Americans have made has contributed mightily to the fact that two months ago we had a seven day average of losing 2,500 Americans a day. Our most recent seven day average is we're only losing 600 Americans a day. Now, one is too many but that decline in fatalities--

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: -- is a tribute to the American people. It's a tribute to our health care workers. It's a tribute to the therapeutics in the medicine and the treatment that- that has been made available and will be available in the days ahead until we arrive at that vaccine.

JOHN DICKERSON: Why not ask people to wear masks?

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Well, we believe people should wear masks wherever--

JOHN DICKERSON: Why doesn't the presidents say that? 

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: -- social distancing is not possible, wherever it's indicated by either state or local authorities. And, you know, the- the president has worn a mask. I wore a mask on several occasions this week. 

JOHN DICKERSON: But Mr. Vice President-- 

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Wearing a mask is a good idea if it's- if- if you are unable to maintain social distancing in a setting. That's six feet. But if you're within that- more than, you know, within six feet for more than 15 minutes, it's a good idea to wear a mask. And every American should take that to heart. 

JOHN DICKERSON: Governor Abbott in Texas has said the precondition for opening the economy is wearing a mask. Wear the mask, he said, we'll keep the economy open. You and the president care a lot about keeping the economy open. The message on masks has been muddled. Why doesn't the president, who has some suasion in the country, come forward and say everybody should wear a mask, which is what all the governors are saying? Why has he been kind of muddling that message?

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Well, first, we- we believe that every state has a unique situation. And I want to be clear, while- while we're monitoring about 16 states that are seeing outbreaks, it represents about 4% of all the counties in this country, 34 states are not seeing a rise in positivity and they have different measures, different requirements and different guidance in place. I mean one of the- one of the- one of the elements of the genius of America is the principle of federalism, of state and local control. And President Trump and I, after asking the American people to embrace 45 days to slow the spread, we issued guidelines to reopen America. And- and since that day nearly two months ago, we've- we've made it clear that we want to defer to governors. We want to defer to local officials--

JOHN DICKERSON: But Mr. Vice President--

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: --and people should listen to them. 

JOHN DICKERSON: The virus--

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: But make no mistake about it, the president and I recognize as our- as our guidance for all the phases of reopening suggests that- that social distancing, wearing a mask, wearing a facial covering when appropriate, is always a good idea.

JOHN DICKERSON: The virus doesn't know federalism. A virus that hits in Texas is in New York tomorrow. A virus that hits in New Jersey is in Atlanta the next day. So you talk about federalism, but this is a problem that requires a coordinated national result, which is what these outbreaks are showing. And so to say, states should deal with them individually seems to miss the big fact, which is the virus can go wherever it wants. And the principle of federalism undermines the national response to it.

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: JOHN, if we'd have taken that approach, we'd have never had the success that we had in the greater New York City area. We'd have never had the success in Michigan or New Orleans, because from early on, we worked closely in partnership with governors to make sure that they had what they needed when they needed it, tailored to the unique circumstances in their states. And- and when you look at the extraordinary progress that we made in New York and in Connecticut and in New Jersey and New Orleans and in Michigan and in early on in states like Washington State where we- we flattened the curve, we slowed the spread, and we did it at a time early in this pandemic where we were just scaling testing up. We were- we were working to increase the amount of personal protective equipment and ventilators. And so it's not a one size all answer. The president understood that from early on. And it's the reason why, as we speak, we're deploying CDC personnel, we're focusing on unique needs in these states. But we're also- we're also expressing our full support for the guidance that governors are giving in each individual state.

JOHN DICKERSON: Schools are going to reopen in the fall. Americans are still worried about this coronavirus. And despite your optimism, these spikes are worrying people. There was an alert in Harris County in Houston Fri- Friday night that sounded like the worst days of New York. What are parents going to do if schools don't reopen? The economy cannot reopen if schools don't reopen. What's your plan for that?

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Well, we're working with the CDC. We've issued guidance and we'll continue to- to reopen our schools at every level. We've been in contact with university presidents around the country about safe and responsible way to reopen. And you're absolutely right. We've got to get our kids back to school and getting our kids not only K through 12, but also back to our colleges and universities is an important part of American life. And, JOHN, we can do it because of the innovation that President Trump put into effect,--

JOHN DICKERSON: But Mr. Vice President--

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: --reinventing--

JOHN DICKERSON: Mr. Vice President--

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: --reinventing testing in this country. JOHN,--

JOHN DICKERSON: You- you can't redo it if people are seeing these spikes and thinking, I don't want to send my kid to school because the officials don't know what's going on. They said they were on top of it. Now there are spikes, and I'm getting alerts on my phone. You, Amer- parents--

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Well JOHN it's one of the- it's one of the reasons why we- it's one of the reasons why we've worked so hard to expand surveillance testing around the country. We've been working with universities, and we're gonna be working with school systems to make testing available. And- and now we're not only testing 500,000 people a day, but as- we're working with states now to recognize that if they pool supplies,-- 

JOHN DICKERSON: Yeah. Right.

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: --they literally could test a multiple of that. And it's that kind of surveillance testing that's going to give people confidence. And also the other piece of this, JOHN, is that I think most Americans know that the nature of the coronavirus is such that- that those most at risk are seniors with serious underlying health conditions, that, in fact, when we think about the losses, and I always want to say one is too many, less than 3% of all of our fatalities occurred with Americans under the age of 25.

JOHN DICKERSON: Yeah. 

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: So I think we understand that young, healthy Americans and children don't- don't face the same risk that seniors do. 

JOHN DICKERSON: You- yeah--

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: So our focus going forward is to make sure that we have a safe environment at our schools and on our campuses, but that we also every day in the days ahead until there's a vaccine--

JOHN DICKERSON: Yeah.

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: --that we continue to focus on the most vulnerable among us, our seniors,--

JOHN DICKERSON: Yeah.

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: --those with immunodeficiencies. And that's where we've been working--

JOHN DICKERSON: You--

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: --in the last two months to deploy point-of-care testing--

JOHN DICKERSON: Yeah, let me--

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: --at nursing homes and long-term care facilities. 

JOHN DICKERSON: Let me ask you this,--

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Our message to younger Americans in these southern states is this. We- we understand that- that the risk to you as a younger American is not significant if you contract the coronavirus, but no one would want to inadvertently carry the coronavirus back--

JOHN DICKERSON: Right.

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: --to a grandmother or grandfather, a mom or a dad.

JOHN DICKERSON: Yeah.

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: That's why we're expanding the surveillance testing.

JOHN DICKERSON: I got it. 

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: And that's why we're gonna to continue to make sure--

JOHN DICKERSON: Let me-- 

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: --that we create a safe environment--

JOHN DICKERSON: Yeah. 

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: --for the most vulnerable among us.

JOHN DICKERSON: You mentioned testing. To get the economy open again, testing has to happen. The president said if we do testing, if we didn't do testing, we'd have no cases. That's wrong and misleading. Given how important testing is, why is the president saying things that are wrong and misleading about testing?

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Well, I think it's inarguable that the historic increase in testing that we've accomplished in this country has played a role in the new cases, particularly among younger Americans. JOHN, I want to remind your viewers that two months ago, in most states in this country, we were not testing people that had no symptoms or were below a certain age. 

JOHN DICKERSON: But Mr.- but Mr. Vice President--

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: We were focusing on seniors. 

JOHN DICKERSON: I understand.

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: We were focusing on those with symptoms. But now, because of the public-private partnership that President Trump initiated, we're literally able to test anyone in the country that would--

JOHN DICKERSON: But--

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: --want a test--

JOHN DICKERSON: I understand.

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: --to come forward. We scaled it with great American innovation--

JOHN DICKERSON: But Mr. Vice President, wait a minute, Mr. Vice President--

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: It's not, JOHN, it's not the whole story. There is no question that there's other aspects of these outbreaks, and we're examining those and counseling governors and the affected states--

JOHN DICKERSON: Mr. Vice- but, Mr. Vice President,--

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: But the fact that we're seeing in Florida and Texas, nearly half of the new cases are under the age of- of 25.

JOHN DICKERSON: But Mr. Vice President--

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: --tells you that it's- some of it has to do expanded testing.

JOHN DICKERSON: I understand. But 125,000 Americans have died. We're six months into this. Testing is crucial to get the economy opening- opened and because of public health.

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Right.

JOHN DICKERSON: And the president of the United States with the biggest megaphone on the planet, is saying something about testing that is wrong and misleading. Is that the standard we want for the president of the United States? The president of the United States?

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: JOHN, the president was observing the fact that rising cases, which is- which the media has focused exclusively on has been--

JOHN DICKERSON: Why is that vital to getting this problem solved?

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: --has been in part a result of increased testing. What- what the media doesn't focus on at all is because of the sacrifices the American people made in those 45 days to slow the spread and the good commonsense measures they continue to do, we've continued to see fatalities decline. I grieve for every American family that lost a loved one, for the more than 125,000 Americans that we've lost in this. 

JOHN DICKERSON: But- but the point is, Mr. Vice President,--

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: It's very important to remember that when we went to the president with 45 days to slow the spread,--

JOHN DICKERSON: I understand.

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: --the best modelers said that if we did not take those steps, that we could lose between one and two million American lives. But if we did take all the mitigation steps,--

JOHN DICKERSON: Yeah.

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: --we would still lose between a hundred and 240,000 Americans. 

JOHN DICKERSON: But here' here's the point, Mr. Vice President--

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: We're where we are today because of what the American people have done. We're going to continue to take steps to protect the most vulnerable,--

JOHN DICKERSON: But, Mr. Vice--

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: --and testing will be a critical part of that going forward. 

JOHN DICKERSON: But, Mr. Vice-- it's- testing is critical to protect and to open the economy. In a public health crisis, information and confidence in that information is crucial,--

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Right. 

JOHN DICKERSON: --as you know so well. So why does the person with the best megaphone say things to undermine confidence in testing? It seems totally at odds with what you're spending all your day doing. This isn't a triviality. This is an important, crucial thing about testing.

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Well, JOHN, I just- I just disagree that the president's undermining confidence in testing, he observed--

JOHN DICKERSON: Repeatedly.

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: --that- that the volume of new cases is in part a result of all of- of the rapid scaling of testing that we've done around the country. But what I- I just want the American people to know is that as the cases increase, that--

JOHN DICKERSON: Here's--

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: --that some one half of those are younger Americans who are not particularly susceptible to serious outcomes.

JOHN DICKERSON: Yeah.

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: The American people also deserve to know because of the progress that we've made--

JOHN DICKERSON: Alright.

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: --because of the way we've protected our most vulnerable--

JOHN DICKERSON: I understand.

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: --that two months ago we were- we on- on a single day, we lost 2,500 Americans. And there were two days this week where we lost only roughly 300 Americans. 

JOHN DICKERSON: Well, but the experts--

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: That's- that's incredible progress, an incredible decline in fatalities and it's a tribute to our country, our people,--

JOHN DICKERSON: Alright.

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: --our health care workers, the therapeutics--

JOHN DICKERSON: Mr. Vice-- 

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: --that are available, and the fact that we've been able to test and to alert people to protect those who are vulnerable among us.

JOHN DICKERSON: All right. I want to ask you about race in America. This is another important issue that you and the president are having to face. What do you hear the protesters saying when they protest?

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Well, it's- it's been a focus of ours since the tragic killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. There's no excuse for what happened to George Floyd. But there's also no excuse for the rioting and looting and violence that ensued. Look, the president engaged law enforcement leaders. We've sat down with leaders in the African American community. 

JOHN DICKERSON: Yeah.

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: I've- I've met with leaders in the African American community and- and law enforcement in cities around this country. And what I hear is while- while the radical left says we need to defund the police, what the American people want is for us to fund the police with additional training and support and also improve the lives of the people in our African American community, which I'm proud to say, under President Trump's leadership, we were doing over the last three years. We had the lowest unemployment rate ever recorded for African Americans, thousands of opportunity zones creating investment in our inner cities. We championed educational choice--

JOHN DICKERSON: Yeah.

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: --for inner city families, record funding for historically black colleges. And it's those opportunities that will continue to advance in this administration,-- 

JOHN DICKERSON: Last question, Mr. Vice President. 

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: --even while we support law enforcement jobs,--

JOHN DICKERSON: Yeah, let me ask you--

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: We don't- we don't need to choose between supporting law enforcement and supporting our African American neighbors. 

JOHN DICKERSON: One--

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: We can do both. And that's how we bring our country together.

JOHN DICKERSON:  Last question. One thing protesters would like to hear is leaders say black lives matter. You won't say that. Why?

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: All my life, I've been inspired by the example of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. When I was in Congress, I traveled to his home church in Montgomery with Congressman John Lewis. I walked across the Edmund Pettus Bridge on the anniversary of Bloody Sunday. I cherish the progress that we have made toward a more perfect union for African Americans throughout our history. And I've- I've aspired throughout my career to be a part of that ongoing work. It's really a hard issue for me. And as a pro-life American, I also believe that all life matters, born and unborn. But what- what I see in the leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement is a political agenda of the radical left that would defund the police, that would--

JOHN DICKERSON: Leave that out of it. Just the phrase.

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: --tear down monuments, that would- that would press a radical left agenda that, and- and- and support calls for the kind of violence that has beset the very communities that they say that they're advocating for.

JOHN DICKERSON: But the- but the- sir,--

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: We- I've- I've literally met- I've literally met with African American leaders around this country and in the national capital area who've- who made it clear to us they- they want law and order. 

JOHN DICKERSON: I understand.

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: They- they want peace in our streets. And they know that this president and our administration are absolutely committed to standing with law enforcement, standing for law and order, but also working every day to improve the educational opportunities, improve the job opportunities, improve the lives of our African Americans and all the citizens of our cities. 

JOHN DICKERSON: So you won't say, black lives matter? 

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: JOHN, I really believe that all lives matter. 

JOHN DICKERSON: OK.

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: And that's where the heart of the American people lies. 

JOHN DICKERSON: OK.

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: And we're going to continue to stand strong. We're going to continue to stand strong with Americans that- that want to see us come together as a nation. And we're going to carry that message all the way to November and for four more years. 

JOHN DICKERSON: All right. Thank you, Mr. Vice President. 

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: Thank you, JOHN.