Speaking within The Noorda on Sept. 20, Pence shared welcoming messages as he thanked the organizers of the event.
“It is my joy to be here at Utah Valley University,” Pence stated at the beginning of his speech. Throughout his remarks, sounding much like a campaign speech, Pence covered several topics facing the nation such as abortion, immigration, the economy, and touched on the family, which is what he called America’s “highest priority.”
“This is a crisis that strikes at the very heart of our civilization, and that is the erosion of the nuclear family,” Pence said while mentioning rising divorce rates, lower birth rates and so on. “The truth is that the people of Utah know more than most, strong families make for strong communities, and strong communities make for a strong America.”
A common theme throughout Pence’s speech was returning America to an agenda of freedom and prosperity. During his remarks he mentions verses in the Bible and relates it to vision, saying, “Vision of America has always been a vision of freedom and equality of opportunity. I truly do believe that here in the year of 2022 and in the years that follow, the American people have the opportunity to restore our national unity.”
“That means those of us in public life must do more than just criticize,” Pence stated shortly after.
The Review had an opportunity to follow up on this point of division with the former vice president, asking how national political polarization has seeped into state and local politics. Pence stressed the need for the country to return to civility within its politics, and how his faith has led him to conduct campaigns in a less brutal way.
“As a Christian I began to reflect on my obligations to my faith in the public square. … As a Christian I had the obligation to conduct myself in campaigns better than I had,” Pence reasoned. “I always tried to practice civility.”
“There is a difference between telling somebody that their ideas are bad, and telling them that they’re a bad person. … America needs a return to civility,” Pence went on.
Pence was also asked about whether or not he planned to run for President in 2024, to which he replied, “I will keep you posted.”
During the event, a silent protest that had been organized by the Progressive Student Alliance to voice their disapproval with the event. The Review was provided a statement from the PSA on their intentions behind the protest.
“We are organizing this protest because this speaker does not represent many portions of the campus community. We believe that this will be a great outlet to show our disapproval of this speaker. Mike Pence does not represent the values of UVU and UVU students,” the statement reads. “[What we are] hoping to see at this protest is [the] broader UVU community taking a stance against hateful individuals such as Mike Pence. As a group, we believe that Mike Pence through his tenure as governor, congressman, and [vice president] is a tenure of hatred of marginalized groups.”
Protesters pointed to Pence’s views on the family, views touched on by his speech, as homophobic and see Pence as a hateful figure. When asked about his response on being more civil in our politics, Simone Anderson, who majors in Elementary Education at UVU and participated in the protest, stated that, “the fact that [Pence] signed on [to be vice president] knowing that Trump was a very divisive, intentionally so, candidate, [he] still signed on to be on that ticket. … I don’t think he particularly cares about [being civil].”
This view was also shared by Natalie Williams, a UVU student studying Political Science, who related their disapproval to Pence’s views on family and gender. “There is no way to not be divisive if you’re going to invalidate another person’s existence. As a trans person I feel unsafe with the views that he shares,” Williams stated.
As the former vice president’s remarks came to a close, Pence gave a call to action to the rising generation in the audience to prepare for action to defend freedom.
“I want to say to the rising generation here at Utah Valley University, the bright young people who join us here, you must prepare your minds for action,” Pence stated, “Your generation might be the last line of defense for a free society in America.”