Former Republican Vice President Mike Pence made his thoughts clear about the role he played during the Jan. 6 Capitol riot in a speech in Cheyenne on Thursday, reflecting on the moment as a “tragic” day.
“My duty was clear that day and I’ll always believe in my heart of hearts that I did my duty that day,” he said.
Pence has been a target of some Republicans for his refusal to follow through on former President Donald Trump’s demands that Pence not certify the 2020 presidential election results. As Vice President, it was Pence’s job to certify the results of the election after the U.S. House and Senate gave their approval.
Trump criticized Pence for taking this action.
Chants of “hang Mike Pence” rang out from the mob during the Jan. 6 Capitol riot as Pence was rushed into an underground bunker below the Capitol.
Pence, a former governor and U.S. representative from Indiana, spoke at the Petroleum Association of Wyoming’s (PAW) Rockies Petroleum Conference Thursday afternoon at Little America Hotel and Resort.
Although speaking positively about the accomplishments of the Trump Administration, Pence never directly complimented the former president. There is speculation Pence may run against Trump for the Republican nomination in the 2024 presidential election.
Wyoming Republican U.S. Senators Cynthia Lummis and John Barrasso also spoke at the Thursday event. Lummis told Cowboy State Daily that Pence did the right thing on Jan. 6, despite voting to overturn the Pennsylvania election results herself. She, like the former vice president, was rushed into the underground bunker when the certification of the Arizona election ballots was interrupted.
“His role that day was not to intervene, but to simply preside over the process of certifying electors,” Lummis said. “He performed his constitutional duties within the confines of his authority with complete grace and skill under very difficult circumstances.”
No mention of U.S. House Republican nominee Harriet Hageman was made during the event. Hageman has been endorsed by Trump and reiterated his claims that the 2020 election was rigged.
Lummis said when Trump chose Pence as his Vice President, to her, it proved to her that the former president had “good judgment.” She described Pence as an honest and trustworthy leader and complimented him for helping the Republicans win back the U.S. House, Senate and Presidency while he was a U.S. representative.
Pence returned the compliment and described Lummis as one of the most principled members of the U.S. Senate.
Lummis said if Trump had chosen Pence to be the White House’s spokesperson for addressing the coronavirus pandemic instead of Dr. Anthony Fauci, Trump would have got reelected.
Pence spent most of his speech discussing high gas prices and the upcoming midterm elections.
Although gas prices have dropped in the recent month, they are still 64% higher than when President Joe Biden took office. Pence spoke against Russian President Vladimir Putin but said Putin can’t be blamed for America’s high gas prices.
Pence is confident most citizens agree with Republican energy policies and that the GOP will experience success in the November midterms, adding America is 75 days away from “achieving energy independence.” He summarized his and other Republicans’ energy policies as “government, get out of the way.”
“What has made us the shining city on the hill, has been our faith, our freedom and our vast natural resources,” he told the supportive oil and gas industry audience.
He said no other group aside from law enforcement, has received more harsh criticism than people who work in the oil and gas industry.
“The vast majority of Americans are grateful for the work of the people in the oil and gas industry everyday,” he said.
Pence said he couldn’t be prouder to have been vice president of what he described as the most pro-energy administration in American history. Under Trump, for the first time in 75 years, the U.S. had a net-positive energy export rate.
The Trump Administration removed the country from the Paris Climate Accords and the former President Barack Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan. Some saw these agreements as compromises made between the energy industry and environmentalists to address climate change.
Pence said the Democrats have been overtaken by a radical climate change agenda sparked by the left wing of the party.
“This is a man-made economic disaster and it’s all intentional,” he said.
Pence said Obama wanted to make the prices of traditional energy so high that it would force people into using renewable energy. Although Pence said he supports green energy, he explained America needs an “all of the above energy strategy,” a phrase Gov. Mark Gordon has used on numerous occasions and Barrasso also mentioned.
Pence also criticized environmental credit scores and local bans on natural gas as part of an agenda to weaken America that is unfair because other world powers are not implementing them.
If Republicans take the Senate, Barrasso is expected to be chair of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
Barrasso complimented the Trump Administration for its energy policies. He said under Biden, one would never know the U.S. is an energy superpower.
“We have an administration that is at war with American energy,” he said.
The Biden Administration has put in place several moratoriums on federal oil and gas leases and aggressive policies to fight climate change.
Outgoing Wyoming State Rep. Mike Greear, R-Worland, also spoke, claiming Wyoming is a better environmental steward than the rest of the world.
“I don’t think we get enough credit for that,” he said.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Wyoming had the highest per capita carbon dioxide emissions in 2019, at 102 metric tons per person. Pence said over the last 20 years, U.S. gross domestic product has risen 25% while emissions have dropped by 27%.
Pence moved home to Indiana after the 2020 election. He mentioned humbling aspects about the experience, such as waiting 25 minutes to eat at Olive Garden.
“One of the great things about no longer about being vice president is you get to drive your own car, the bad thing is you have to pay for your own gas,” he joked.
Pence described Wyoming as “such a cool place,” calling it emblematic of freedom and the American dream.
Lummis spoke of her experience working with Rick Robitaille, former head of PAW and a leader within Wyoming’s oil and gas industry, describing him as a ‘prince of a guy.’ Robitaille passed away on Saturday.
Lummis said Robitaille helped recruit people from the energy industry to help teach lawmakers about important issues.
“He will be sorely missed,” she said.
Pence complimented Barrasso for helping usher in the three conservative U.S. Supreme Court justices approved during the Trump Administration.
“Thank you for sending Senator Barrasso to our nation’s Capital,” Pence said. “Just send Senator Barrasso and Senator Lummis back to a Republican majority in 2023.”
Greear said there is a lot of concern among citizens about how much turnover occurred in the Wyoming Legislature with the recent primary election but said there is “no need to panic.” He encouraged the public to educate new legislators about the legislative process and to tell them “slow and steady wins the race.”
“Change is always inevitable, just make sure it’s predictable,” he said.