ROGERSVILLE, S.C. — Vice President Mike Pence slammed the North Korean regime’s efforts to hide its “hostile acts” against the United States during a campaign-style rally in South Carolina on Saturday, and the vice president promised that President Trump’s North Korea policy “will be firm, strong and clear.”
Pence praised the military strength of the U.S. — “at war with North Korea, 800 miles from Washington” — and said that the administration will keep up “the maximum pressure campaign until we’ve forced the North Korean regime to abandon its nuclear and ballistic missile programs once and for all.”
Ahead of a planned summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the vice president said the North Korean regime’s “efforts to hide its hostile acts against the United States are shameful and despicable.” Pence added that “every effort must be made” to keep Kim from “attempting to deceive the world and deceive the United States.”
“I have to be honest: We could be closer right now to an agreement,” he said. “There’s reason to believe that it could be done — not by the United States, though our leadership will obviously always try to do what’s in the best interest of the United States.”
In late December, Trump said that he was “very close” to a historic deal with Kim to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. Although North Korea has insisted that it’s prepared to make sweeping concessions, it has been slow to produce the weapons Trump is demanding.
Pence reiterated that Pyongyang’s “declarations and commitments” haven’t stopped the U.S. from continuing to exercise its own military power. In his address to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Pence joked that he “never expected to give up the armistice that ended the Korean War, but I’m not naïve about North Korea either.”
The event, which Pence is holding to rally votes ahead of South Carolina’s upcoming primary election, began with a call for Republicans to show “leadership” by passing legislation that will protect DACA, the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
“And we need a new movement for freedom — the John Wayne Journey,” he said, using the U.S. flag as a prop.
Pence said that Republicans should “don’t stand down” on issues and stick together. “Whether it’s health care, tax reform, the tax overhaul or DACA, we never give up,” he said.