On Wednesday, August 3rd, Vice President Mike Pence spoke to the thousands in attendance at the annual Tennessee Republicans Statesmen's Dinner. He addressed the accomplishments of President Trump, the current health care conundrum, and the state of Tennessee. In addition, the Vice President began and ended his speech addressing both his sympathies towards Mayor Megan Barry and her family as well as his excitement regarding the Tennessee gubernatorial election in 2018.
The Statesmen’s Dinner began with an introduction to the Vice President by Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, who addressed his genial relationship with Pence, a claim exemplified by the fact that Pence previously invited Haslam to speak at the Indiana Statesmen’s dinner when the Vice President was still a Governor.
When Pence eventually graced the stage, his handshake with Bill Haslam was met with cheering and hollering reminiscent of MBA’s student section after a touchdown was scored. At this point, it was clear that Pence would be well and truly preaching to the quire, something he quite easily took in stride.
The Vice President’s speech consisted of two main parts: praising Trump and criticizing the handling of Obamacare.
The section dedicated to Trump was opened by Pence’s commitment to telling the crowd, “what you don’t hear in the media.” Apparently, what is not heard about is Trump’s commitment to boosting the economy through the cutting of environmental regulations enacted during the Obama administration. On the campaign trail last year, Trump said that for every piece of legislation he passes, he will cut two regulations. His current rate is around six times that figure. Do not be deceived, however, as this inflation comes due to a lack of legislation rather than a deluge of cuts. While an argument can certainly made against Pence’s claim that these actions go unnoticed, it is clear that the effects of Trump’s actions regarding regulations are pushed under the rug. The stock market beat its record high in early 2017 and has barely taken a hit since then, proving that a less regulation allows for a healthier market, something many feel willing to sacrifice if it means better protecting the environment.
Pence directly addressed some of the tension regarding Trump’s environmental decisions, most notably the withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accords, an agreement that let world leaders pat each other on the back and take photos with one another while signing an unenforceable piece of legislation whose constructs are largely unattainable for countries outside of the first world. He related the President’s “Pittsburgh not Paris” line to Tennessee, preaching a commitment to keeping Tennessee’s workers employed.
Pence also addressed the state of Obamacare by praising Senators Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander for supporting its repeal in the failed senate vote in late July. On the issue of Obamacare, Pence sounded increasingly as though he was trying out an impression of his boss, using lines such as, “Obamacare has failed, and Obamacare must go… you better believe this fight ain’t over.”
As any Vice President is destined to do, Pence sounded at times like Squealer from “Animal Farm” as periods of his speech consisted of giving updates on what President Trump was saying, doing, and even thinking.
While Pence’s speech was received with applause and celebration inside of the Music City Center a hundred protesters gathered outside. The protesters gathered to show their support of DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival.
Vice President Pence’s appearance at the Tennessee Republican Statesmen’s dinner led to the largest attendance of the event ever. Previous speakers have included current United States representative at the United Nations, Nikki Haley, and New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie. One reason why this year’s event took on such significance is due to the upcoming gubernatorial election in 2018. Currently running for Governor are Republican candidates Randy Boyd, Beth Harwell, Diane Black, Bill Lee, and Mae Beavers, and Democratic candidate Karl Dean.