Vice President Mike Pence is making his displeasure known regarding Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s destruction of an official copy of the State of the Union address Tuesday night before a joint session of Congress.
Appearing the following morning on Fox News’ “Fox and Friends,” the vice president ripped Pelosi in return, referring to her behavior in the closing moments of President Donald Trump’s remarks to the nation as petty and self-centered.
“I didn’t see [Pelosi] do it. I found out just a few moments later,” Pence said. “And I think it was a new low.
“I wasn’t sure if she was ripping up the speech or ripping up the Constitution.”
Coming after more than a year of emotionally charged working relations between Trump and Pelosi, Tuesday’s address was conceived and carried to term with no shortage of expectation that tensions might flare between the two partisan leaders.
Pelosi’s very invitation for Trump to come before Congress and deliver remarks on the nation’s health, as the U.S. Constitution and years of tradition demand, arrived on the president’s desk in December as the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives hurriedly prepared its case for impeachment.
And despite the now-forgone conclusion that Trump will be acquitted by the U.S. Senate come Wednesday afternoon, relations between the two remain strained — and seemed to leave the president passing on an attempt to shake hands with Pelosi prior to his address.
The pot would not boil over, however, until more than an hour later, when Pelosi took it upon herself to physically tear apart a printed copy of the speech behind the president’s back as cameras rolled on his closing remarks.
Asked about the incident shortly after the joint session was adjourned, Pelosi defended her dramatic reaction as tame, according to The Daily Wire, telling reporters, “It was the courteous thing to do, considering the alternative.”
The House speaker would further justify the response in a series of interviews, claiming Trump’s speech had been “a manifesto of mistruths.”
— Reuters (@Reuters) February 5, 2020
— ABC News (@ABC) February 5, 2020
According to the wider viewing audience and the diverse cast of American citizens and veterans spotlighted in the address, however, the action was simply disrespectful.
For Pence, it juxtaposed a leader focused on self-image and small political victories with a leader focused on seeing the nation glorified.
“It’s clear, the contrast here was a president who spent an hour-and-a-half making a speech about America,” Pence said. “And Nancy Pelosi, in the final moments, tried to make it about her.”
“I think the American people see through it,” the vice president continued. “They see through the pettiness. They see through the politics of all of it.”
“I think what they got last night was a speech that lifted up the country, that celebrated the incredible progress that we’ve made in our economy, rebuilding our military, strengthening our courts,” he added. “But the stories, the stories that the president told were American stories.
“And I just know it was a great, great blessing to the people all across America.”
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