Vice President Mike Pence speaks at Virginia Military Institute

Vice President Mike Pence speaks at Virginia Military Institute

LEXINGTON, Va. (WVIR) -Vice President Mike Pence was in Lexington Thursday afternoon to speak to cadets at Virginia Military Institute.

Pence started his speech by praising the school and the cadets who have stepped forward to represent the United States. He emphasized honor and the heritage of honor at VMI, saying the cadets are qualifying themselves to honor their family and their country.

“In fact, honor is at the core of what you do. Honor will be the central characteristic of who you become,” he said.

Pence says we will never forget those who have served, fought, and died for the United States.

After the speech, the vice president sat down with NBC29′s CJ Paschall for a one-on-one interview.

On the topic of coronavirus relief, Pence says that the Trump Administration is hopeful that an effective vaccine will be found by the end of the year. He also says that while initial economic boosts may have saved millions of jobs, more must be done.

“President Trump and I believe that we have got to do more," The Vice President explained. "That’s why we welcome the effort of Senate Republicans today to provide more aid, more relief for families and businesses. And it really is unconscionable that Democrats in the Senate blocked that bill.”

All Senate Democrats, and Rand Paul (R-KY), voted against that bill proposed by Senate Republicans. The bill would have reinstated unemployment benefits at $300 versus the $600 from the start of the pandemic. It would have also authorized more business assistance. Democrats say the bill did not do enough to support local governments and provide food assistance to vulnerable families. Failing the package of an economic stimulus bill, Pence says that President Trump will fall back on executive orders.

On racial injustice and calls for policing reform sweeping the nation, Pence acknowledged that there is much work to do on the issue.

“Well, lets be clear that what happened to George Floyd in Minneapolis should never have happened anywhere in the country, and justice will be served." Pence said. “There’s also no excuse for the rioting and the looting that has followed in the months since then.”

Pence reiterated that the administration does not support defunding the police. However, it does support increased use of force and accountability training.

The event was not without some degree of opposition. In a week that saw an article from The Atlantic reporting that President Trump had referred to soldiers as “losers,” and “suckers,” for their service, as well as tweets from the President disparaging top military officials as clamoring for war for the sake of boosting profits for the military industrial complex, some were surprised by the Vice President’s visit to VMI.

Khzir Khan, a Gold Star father who has been a frequent critic and target of the President, said that he thought the Vice President was doing a disservice to the cadets by speaking to them in the wake of the reports.

“(Trump) cannot comprehend how someone’s sense of duty and service and love of country can be so powerful, that they would risk their own life to protect their country, their nation, their fellow soldiers,” Khan said.

The Democratic Party of Virginia (DPVA) also held a virtual counter-event during Pence’s speech. The event was hosted by Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, a VMI graduate. DPVA Veterans and Military Families Caucus Chair Sgt. Derek Kitts and Democratic National Committee Veterans & Military Families Council Cpt. Terron Simms also spoke at the virtual event.

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