Vice President Pence on Reopening America

RUSH: We are now joined by Vice President Mike Pence, have him for a few minutes here before the end of the hour. Great to have you back, sir! It's always a pleasure.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Rush Limbaugh, it's great to be back on the program, and when the president and I were catching up this morning, he wanted me to send his very best regards to you.

RUSH: I appreciate that. Everybody's being so great. It's really... It's warming my heart. I need to ask you, we were watching a little bit of the president's Rose Garden ceremony today on the vaccine.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: You bet.

RUSH: How realistic is this, Mr. VP, a vaccine by the end of the year?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, we think it is very possible, and what the American people saw today with the announcement of Operation Warp Speed is just as the president has done from the very beginning of the coronavirus, is we're gonna continue to bring the full weight of the federal government but also the ingenuity and creativity of American researchers and our incredible pharmaceutical companies to bear on developing not just therapeutics but, most importantly -- as we announced today -- a vaccine.

The big part of it, too, was not only did the president introduce Dr. Moncef Slaoui -- who will be coordinating the public and private research that's done -- but also General Gus Perna is going to oversee the development of these prospective vaccines, to scale them up, to do everything in our power to meet the president's objective to have 100 million doses by the fall and 300 million doses by the winter.

But it is... Some of the early results from one vaccine continue to be encouraging, but I hope what the American people saw today is the president's just gonna continue to bring this whole of government, whole of America approach to bring these medicines forward.

RUSH: Well, I have to tell you -- if you permit me a brief moment of editorial analysis -- this is phenomenal, for the president to put his presidency on the line here: A vaccine for a virus. We don't have many vaccines for many viruses. We don't have one for AIDS yet, for example. We've got flu shots but no vaccine. To me, this is typical Donald Trump. What you say can't be done, he says it can, and then he sets out about trying to show you how.

Somebody asked him today, "All of your health experts have said a vaccine, if we get one, is 12 to 18 months away.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Right.

RUSH: "You're saying now the end of the year," and he said, "Well, but we've been working on it since January. People have been working on this for half a year already." So I thought that was a great point about this as well.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yeah, it's a remarkable point, and the things that this administration under the president's leadership have done -- from literally before the experts were telling us how serious the coronavirus was -- ought to give great confidence to the American people. I mean, here the president in January shut down all travel from China.

He stood up the White House Coronavirus Task Force before there was a single case of community transmission in the United States. I mean, the only cases here at that time were people who had come back from China. But to your point, Rush, as soon as our researchers had essentially what the genetic code of the coronavirus is, they immediately went to work on developing a vaccine and literally set a record.

In 62 days, went from initiating research to the first clinical trial, and we're in phase 1 clinical trials now with other vaccines also being developed. You know, President Donald Trump's a leader that when other people say, "You can't," he says, "Stand back and we're gonna prove you wrong" (chuckles), and that's the approach that he's taken to this throughout.

And the president's decisive leadership, the cooperation of the American people, I believe with all my heart, Rush -- and I say this to your millions of listeners -- because of what we've all done together, we've saved lives, we've flattened the curve, and it's one of the reasons why 47 states today have already released formal reopening plans. We're seeing, you know, encouraging results among states that have already begun to open up.

Thirty days ago, the president directed us to release the Open Up America Again plan because we understand that America works when America is working. But we are where we are today because of the tremendous cooperation of the American people, their care for their neighbors -- especially the vulnerable -- and the strong leadership of President Donald Trump, and that's, once again, the --

RUSH: I want to ask you about these --

THE VICE PRESIDENT: -- (crosstalk) that we need.

RUSH: -- CDC guidelines, these new guidelines that were released yesterday --

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yeah.

RUSH: -- and the reopening plans across the country. It's a... Look, I know you don't want to get political in the midst of this national fight to defeat this thing.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yeah.

RUSH: But for somebody like me, Mr. VP, you look at Florida with the job Governor DeSantis is doing. He's just doing a phenomenal job. Governor Kemp is doing a great job. You go to some of these blue states where these governors seem to have a political desire to inflict pain on your administration rather than get their states reopened. I'm not asking you to comment on that, but how do you coordinate with this new guidance from the CDC to reopen when you have some states that aren't interested in it?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, look, we're coordinating with all the governors. As you point out, when we were only 30 days into 45 days to slow the spread, the president said, "Look, we want states to be ready -- just as soon as they can safely do it -- to open up America again," and that's why a month ago we released those guidelines, the CDC guidelines that came out yesterday and we'll continue to produce in the future.

We're gonna give confidence to businesses and communities to begin to go back to work. But I have to tell you that part of what we want to do is make sure the American people know what's going on. As I sit here today, even though we are dramatically increasing testing, Rush -- because of the public-private partnership the president launched months ago -- we just cleared 10 million tests that have been done in this country.

RUSH: Phenomenal. It's phenomenal.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yeah, when the president tapped me to lead the Coronavirus Task Force, Rush, we had done 8,400 tests total because of the arcane, slow system at CDC and public labs. The president reinvented testing in America. We've now done 10 million tests. We're averaging around the country about 300,000 tests a day, I'm told. And even though we're increasing testing, the number of positive cases of coronavirus are still going down around the country --

RUSH: Yeah, I was just talking about that. That's a great phenomenon that's happening.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: It's an incredible phenomenon, and it's one that we're determined to make sure the American people understand. We're testing more, but it was about three weeks ago that we had about 40,000 cases in a single day. About ten days ago it was about 35,000. I don't have my charts in front of me, but it's been under 20,000 in recent days.

I mean, what the American people have done at great sacrifice -- and make no mistake about it, this has been tough on families and businesses large and small and communities of faith, that the American people did it and are doing it. And because of that, even though we're testing so much more, the actual cases are coming down, and, most importantly, fatalities continue to trend down around the country even while you have states across America that are opening up again.

And I think every American should be encouraged by that. We continue to listen to state and local authorities about the way to practice social distancing and act in a safe and responsible way, but the president knows it, I know it, you know it. America works when America is working. The American people want to get back to work, and they want to do that in a safe and responsible way. And it's happening, Rush. It's happening all across America as we speak.

RUSH: You are a former broadcast specialist, so when I tell you that we have three minutes, you know what that means. I need to ask you about --

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yeah.

RUSH: -- school in the fall. There seems to be some confusion over whether we can, whether we will, not just high schools and middle schools but higher education as well. What can you tell us about the plans for education?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Rush, we just convened a conference call, middle of this week, with about a dozen of the top university and college presidents in America. And they all have plans to open up. We're gonna be meeting with them again in the coming weeks and producing their plans and making it available. But I want to tell you that as we see the downward trend in cases, downward hospitalizations, and most especially downward trend in losses, one of the things that I think we can continue to move toward is not just reopening America this summer, but getting our schools back going again, higher education and getting our local schools back to work.

And we're gonna continue to produce the kind of guidance that's necessary. But what I heard this week from these university and college presidents is that the plans are already underway. You know, we talked to University of Alabama, Florida, Carnegie Mellon, Perdue University, the leadership, Arizona State are all putting together plans to safely and responsibly get their campuses back open again and get the learning going again and with that, my fondest hope is that we get those teams competing again. But everybody's moving in that direction.

And again, I just can't say it often enough. It's all a tribute to what the American people have been willing to do, to put the health of the most vulnerable among us first, and it's got us on a trajectory where we're gonna continue to partner with these schools to make sure they have the testing resources and everything that they need. But I truly do believe much of the country will be in a place where we'll be back to school come this fall, from elementary to high school to higher education.

RUSH: It's a big deal because parents, if the schools aren't open, it's tougher for parents to go back to work and --

THE VICE PRESIDENT: That's exactly right.

RUSH: It's a very important thing to them.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: And make no mistake about it, you know, these major universities oftentimes are the largest employer in their community.

RUSH: Yeah.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: They employ tens of thousands of people. They're a major part of the life of the community and of the state. But we're working with these universities. Now, is it possible, there are going to be some areas where your local school is not gonna be fully able to open because of the coronavirus continuing to be persistent? You know, that's certainly possible, but I have to tell you, the trend lines are all encouraging. And as we scale testing and as we continue to protect the most vulnerable among us, particularly seniors with serious underlying health condition, that I think we're gonna be able to open up America again and open up our schools again.

RUSH: Thank you, sir. I really appreciate you making time for us. It's always great to have you here. And continued success with the projects that you have in your portfolio to get everybody back up and running and have the jobs come back, the economy come back, it's what everybody wants and we couldn't have anybody better working on it than you, sir. Thank you very much.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: You're very kind, Rush. Thank you very much. And I look forward to talking again soon.

RUSH: It will be the case. That's Vice President Mike Pence. See, I told you he's a broadcast pro.

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