Vice President-Elect Mike Pence on Tuesday defended the deal struck to save more 1,000 Carrier Corp. jobs in Indiana and disputed reporting that he had chosen not to intervene in the matter as governor.
Pence said on “The Laura Ingraham Show” that he did make a forceful effort to keep the air-conditioner manufacturer in the state where it has been since the 1950s after he learned in February that it was planning to shift operations to Mexico. But Pence said he was unsuccessful because, while he could offer state tax incentives, he lacked the authority to address the company’s major concerns of stifling federal regulations.
“Thanks to his outreach, his respectful outreach to the company, they made the decision to keep more than 1,000 jobs in the United States.”
The government, Pence said, has imposed 50 new regulations in the last two years that only impacted Carrier because all of its competitors already had left the United States.
“I met in early March with the leadership of the company … I said, ‘Can we put together a package?'” he said. “They said, ‘Don’t bother. We’re gone.’ They said the avalanche of regulations coming out of Washington, D.C. … They said, ‘We don’t even want to consider any proposal.'”
Some libertarian conservatives have blasted that deal as a new form of “crony capitalism,” but Pence said Trump’s promises to cut taxes, repeal Obamacare, roll back regulations, and re-negotiate trade deals would extend beyond Carrier.
“Thanks to his outreach, his respectful outreach to the company, they made the decision to keep more than 1,000 jobs in the United States,” he said.
Pence said Trump will continue the approach once he takes office in January.
“I believe in free markets,” he said. “So does our president-elect … Literally now for decades, we’ve seen jobs leaving this country, going south of the border, going to the Asian Pacific.”
Pence sidestepped a question about the highly public vetting process for secretary of state, a job for which Trump has talked to a number of applicants. Two of those possibilities, 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman — both of whom have sharply criticized Trump — have caused concern among conservatives.
LifeZette Editor-in-Chief Laura Ingraham recited several statements by Huntsman praising President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, under whom he served as ambassador to China.
“It just doesn’t seem like a Donald Trump pick to me,” she said.
Pence said he had no news on the State Department front to make Tuesday.
“Our president-elect has been assembling a Cabinet at a historic pace. It really has been inspiring to watch it come together,” he said, noting that it is coming together at the fastest rate in 40 years. “With regard to secretary of state, I can tell you that no decision has been made, that he is going to continue to meet with men and women of extraordinary caliber, divers backgrounds.”
Pence suggested that observers not place too much emphasis on the past statements of people who accept appointments in the administration.
“The people that are signing up, the people that are going to be selected, are going to be advancing his agenda,” he said.
Pence also reiterated his contention that the storm of controversy generated by Trump’s phone call with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen is a “tempest in a teapot.” The call upset China and has rankled Washington’s foreign policy Establishment because it breaks with a decades-old tradition of pretending that Taiwan does not exist — even as America sells arms to its government and maintains strong trade and cultural ties.
“This was a congratulatory outreach from Taiwan,” he said. “The president-elect took the call with full knowledge of our one-China policy and the issues surrounding our relationship with Taiwan.”
It is part of an overall strategy, Pence said.
“What is so refreshing about our president-elect is that he is determined to re-engage the world, diplomatically and economically, but to do so on terms that put America first,” he said.