CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) – Former Vice President Mike Pence was in Charlottesville on Tuesday speaking to hundreds of people at the University of Virginia.
The event was hosted by the Young America’s Foundation at UVA and allowed Pence the chance to speak about the ‘woke left.’
Pence began the speech, which he gave in front of a sold-out crowd of roughly 850 at Old Cabell Hall, by shouting “Wahoowa!”.
During his speech, Pence criticized the left and touted his accomplishments in office, though he only mentioned President Trump once.
“President Donald Trump was also one of a kind,” Pence said.
Pence didn’t mince words about Democrats.
“Frankly, Democrats have moved so fast in the last 14 months that sometimes I feel like the left hand doesn’t know what the far left hand is doing,” he said.
After criticizing critical race theory, calling it “nothing more than state-sanctioned racism”, Pence said Virginia’s newest governor, Glenn Youngkin, won in large part because he ran on the platform of parental empowerment in schools.
“I was in Loudoun County a few days before that election, and I’m telling you that election was about education freedom,” Pence said.
Before the former VP took the stage, students at UVA were outside wondering whether or not they wanted him there.
This comes after the editorial board of the Cavalier Daily, the student newspaper at UVA, wrote an article saying they did not want Pence to come to grounds. They said his perspectives should not be welcomed “when they spread rhetoric that directly threatens the presence and lives of our community members”.
Then, UVA President Jim Ryan wrote an op-ed saying: “The exchange of ideas about Mr. Pence’s presence on grounds is not a sign that free expression is dead on grounds. It’s a sign that it is alive and well.”
Pence acknowledged that during his speech, saying “Let me also profess my profound gratitude for President Ryan and 17 faculty members who stepped up in defense of freedom.”
One student, Second-Year Cassie Lipton, said she doesn’t like Pence at all, but thought he should be allowed to speak on grounds.
“If there’s an audience for Mike Pence talking about how to save America from the woke left, as dumb as I kind of find that, I think there should be a place for that at UVA,” she said.
Others, including Third-Year Tess Saadvandi, disagreed.
“We say that we foster an environment where everybody is welcome, all students here belong, and then we bring somebody here so vocally against LGBTQ rights,” she said.
Meanwhile, Charlottesville City Councilor Brian Pinkston attended the speech — but not as a government employee, he specified.
“The divisive rhetoric of the past years, I’m hoping that former Vice President Pence will take ownership for whatever part he might have had in that and be willing to help advance the country forward,” he said when asked by NBC29 about what he hoped to hear.
But after Pence finished, Pinkston blasted the speech, calling it “disappointing” and “disingenuous”.
Pence was asked a few questions by audience members, including whether he would run for president in 2024.
“I’ll keep you posted,” he said.
He was also asked about what he would say if one of his children came out as gay.
“I’d look him in the eye and tell him I love you,” he said. “I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman… and the way we come together as a country united is, I believe, when we respect your right to believe and my right to believe what we believe.”
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