Vice President Mike Pence warned a conservative audience Friday that allowing Democrats to gain more power would mean allowing them to enact “tired” policies that amount to socialism.
“Over the next 20 months, we have a decision to make, will we re-elect a president who is making America great again?” Pence asked. “Or will we let America take a hard left turn?”
The crowd roared boos.
“Under the guise of Medicare for All and a Green New Deal, Democrats are embracing the same tired economic theories that have impoverished nations and stifled the liberties of millions over the past century,” Pence said to applause. “That system is socialism.
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“And the only thing green about the so-called Green New Deal is how much green it’s going to cost taxpayers if we do it: $90 trillion,” he said. Democrats have said the price tag would be lower than the figure Pence quoted.
His comments to the Conservative Political Action Conference outside Washington continued a White House and Republican National Committee push to paint the opposition party has hellbent on making America’s economy one that is centrally planned from Washington and intent on taking money out of Americans’ pockets to finance a myriad social programs.
Pence on Friday warned about “bumper sticker slogans” and “slick social media campaigns” that he said paper over the most failed system in “the history of the world.” His pitch was straightforward: “freedom” conquers and leads to prosperity, while socialism is built on “government coercion” and drags down countries with unaffordable federal programs.
“We want to make poverty more rare, they want to make poverty more comfortable,” he said of Democrats. “We must say with one voice: America will never be a socialist country.”
The crowd errupted in a loud “U-S-A!” chant.
President Donald Trump kicked the socialism warning campaign into high gear with his Feb. 5 State of the Union address. He kept it up during a rally a few days later in Texas.
“There are those trying to implement socialism right here in the United States,” Trump said during a Feb. 11 campaign rally in El Paso, Texas. “So I again say to you — and I say it for the world to hear — America will never be a socialist country,” he said to applause.
Trump and senior GOP officials have latched onto policies and comments made by newly minted Democratic lawmakers like New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a self-described “democratic socialist,” to argue the entire party has shifted considerably to the left.
What’s more, the president has used the unrest in Venezuela to kick off what he and his top aides call a campaign to rid the entire Western Hemisphere of socialist governments.
“The tyrannical socialist government nationalized private industries and took over private businesses,” Trump said in Miami of the embattled Nicolas Maduro-led government there during a Feb. 18 speech to exiles from the South American country. “Socialism, by its very nature, does not respect borders. It does not respect boundaries or the sovereign rights of its citizens or its neighbors,” he said. “It's always seeking to expand, to encroach, and to subjugate others to its will.”
Pence did the same on Friday, transitioning from his warnings about socialism at home to his declaration that “Nicolas Mudaro must go” because “what Venezuela needs is freedom.”
All of Trump’s and Pence’s warnings are built on themes they routinely use — as Pence did Friday — to fire up their conservative base, which will need to turn out in big numbers again if they hope to win a second term.
Meantime, the VP revved up the crowd early in his remarks by saying the Trump administration has begun construction of Trump’s proposed southern border wall. Democrats and immigration analysts, however, say no new barrier has been erected — just replacement fencing in some areas.
“Before we’re done,” he said, “we’re going to build it all.”
The crowd reacted with a “build that wall!” chant that lasted nearly a minute.
“Oh, we’re building it,” the vice president quipped. “Like the president says, ‘Don’t worry about it.’”
Watch: Democrats downplay appearance of disunity on Green New Deal