Former Vice President Mike Pence said in Des Moines Saturday that America should continue its support for Ukraine, despite growing reluctance from some members of the GOP.
“I must tell you that the war in Ukraine is not a territorial dispute. It’s a Russian invasion,” Pence said. “And I believe the United States must continue to demand that of the free world.”
About 1 in 5 GOP senators and 1 in 4 GOP officials voted against aid to Ukraine, according to congressional votes on the aid packages to Ukraine.
Pence attended a forum in Des Moines at the Bastion Institute, a new foreign policy think tank. Former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan also spoke Saturday, and the event was moderated by Sen. Joni Ernst and opened by Rep. Zach Nunn.
Throughout the discussion, Ernst and Pence emphasized the importance of America’s leadership in the world and how the Biden administration is showing signs of weakness towards its opponents.
Pence said the US could support democracy abroad and take care of domestic affairs.
“I know some people are saying we can’t take care of getting our economies back on track, securing our borders, taking care of things here at home,” Pence said. “But that’s a pretty small glimpse into the greatest nation on earth. We could do both. We could revive this country. Secure this country. Prosper this country.”
But Indianola audience member Rich Evenson said he shares some Republicans’ skepticism about big spending in Ukraine.
“Well, I’m not a big fan of spending as much money as we did in Ukraine,” Evenson said. “I think there should be some accountability and I think Europe has to take the lead because that’s their backyard.”
Other viewers of the forum included House Majority Leader Matt Windschitl, Rep. Eddie Andrews and David Oman, former Chief of Staff to the Governors. Bob Ray and Terry Branstad.
Oman has expressed concern about trade under the democratic government. “We must show that we are willing to do what we must do to ensure our security is maintained and we are allowed to have a good trading relationship,” Oman said. “[The Biden administration] will jeopardize all that if the Chinese continue their steady approach in the Asia-Pacific world.
Former President Donald Trump cited his administration’s achievements in Iowa last week, including its tariffs on Chinese imports. Pence also touted the Trump-Pence administration’s trade achievements on Saturday, noting that impossible priorities for the Trump administration, such as a trade deal with the UK, are possible non-priorities for the Biden administration and therefore the American would hurt people.
Hogan pointed to the implications of global engagement at the state level.
“You know, there are foreign policy decisions that are made in Washington by our federal leaders, but every governor in America is deeply involved and affected by the foreign policy decisions,” Hogan said. “So we’re actually doing these frontline things in our states that are impacting our economies and investing in a number of jobs in our state.”
Hogan also stressed the importance of trade in foreign policy, saying America must shift its trade entirely from adversaries like China to allies like Canada, Mexico, the European Union and Japan.
Ernst expresses concerns about foreign land acquisition
Ernst highlighted concerns about Chinese land ownership, an issue that is gaining traction in Washington and Des Moines.
Both Hogan and Pence agreed with Ernst that foreign ownership of large tracts of land was too extensive for other nations in America. Many of Iowa’s legislatures, both state and national, have sponsored or introduced bills to ban foreign property, particularly Chinese.
Ernst cited a Chinese company’s purchase of land near an air force base in North Dakota to emphasize the need for increased protection.
Pence also drew attention beyond Russia and China to the Middle East. He said The strategy used during the Cold War with the Soviet Union should be the same strategy used in relations with Iran.
“Just as Ronald Reagan did in Soviet times and this month 40 years ago described the Soviet Union as the evil empire,” Pence said. “We must ensure that this message continues to reach the Iranian people, that we stand with you as you call in your hope for democracy, and that we stand ready when you shake off these tyrants and mullahs in Tehran.” We stand ready to stand with you in building a free, democratic and nuclear-free Iran.”
However, Pence said China is America’s greatest threat and peace through strength, as during the Reagan era, is the best strategy.