On Tuesday, October 3rd, GU Politics kicked off the first event in its 2024 GOP Presidential Candidate Series on National Security and Foreign Policy with a conversation featuring the 48th Vice President of the United States, Mike Pence.
This series is an opportunity for students to directly ask candidates their most pressing questions on topics of global importance. Georgetown students were joined by peers from the University of New Hampshire, Iowa State University, and Clemson University who contributed remotely from campus watch parties in these early primary states. The key theme of the discussion was the importance of free exchange of ideas and creating dialogue.
“We did not bring him here to give him a platform to share his worldview with you. We brought him here to give all of you a platform to ask him whatever questions you want about that worldview,” began Mo Elleithee, Executive Director of the Institute, setting the tone for an honest and thorough discussion. “Challenge him. Ask him questions. And most importantly, listen to his answers,” Elleithee urged the students filling Gaston Hall and watching on the live stream.
The conversation began with a discussion of U.S. aid to Ukraine, moderated by Associate Press national politics reporter and Georgetown alumnus Meg Kinnard. Pence pledged his full support to the Ukraine military but critiqued President Biden for failing to clearly articulate the national interests involved in Ukraine to the American people. The conversation continued at a fast pace, covering domestic divisions and tensions surrounding Taiwan.
On both topics, Pence emphasizes the need for U.S. strength to confront these crises. “Weakness arouses evil,” he repeated throughout the discussion, connecting many international crises to what he characterized as the Biden administration’s “disastrous” withdrawal from Afghanistan. He asserted that this strength came from prioritizing our security and building “a military fitted to our times.”
The discussion then turned over to questions from students from all four universities in attendance. Students asked questions ranging from Pence’s views on the expansion of BRICs and China’s influence on the African continent to his policies on climate change and cybersecurity. One thing that the former Vice President was adamant about while answering these questions was the importance of American leadership internationally. “If we’re not leading the free world, the free world isn’t being led,” he stated many times throughout his comments.
During the discussion, the moderators received breaking news that the House had voted to vacate the Speaker of the House’s chamber. Students and the rest of the audience watched the former Vice President react and respond to the historic event in real-time. “Chaos is never America’s friend. It is never the friend of American families,” he remarked.
Students appreciated the chance to ask such a high-profile candidate the questions at the forefront of their minds and engage in respectful dialogue. Jon Plummer, a freshman in the SFS, remarked, “It was an extremely fortunate opportunity to be able to ask Mike Pence about his foreign policy in Africa.” Ana Tucholski, CAS ‘27, agreed, saying “While I may not agree with some of the former VP’s policies, it was interesting to hear his opinions on foreign policy in real life.”
This article was written by Ophelia Bentley (SFS ’27), a writer for On the Record.