WASHINGTON (AP) — Vice President-elect Mike Pence claimed a governing mandate for the incoming White House, calling on Republican activists to help the Trump administration pass an ambitiously conservative agenda.
The Indiana governor made little reference to still-simmering national divides in his Tuesday evening remarks before top donors of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank that's working closely with Donald Trump's transition effort.
"We truly do believe that our president-elect has secured a mandate for leadership," he told the crowd, gathered in the "presidential ballroom" of Trump's Washington, D.C. hotel.
Despite winning the electoral vote, Trump is 2.6 million behind Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton in the popular vote. Clinton's lead there has sparked calls from Democrats to abolish the Electoral College.
Just hours after Trump tanked shares of Boeing stock with a tweet questioning the aircraft manufacturer's $4 billion contract to build a new presidential plane, Pence also defended the billionaire businessman against charges that his administration could threaten capitalist ideals. Trump's comments on Boeing along with a recent decision to cut a deal with United Technologies Corp. to keep factory jobs in Indianapolis have raised concerns among some conservatives about the incoming Republican president's economic policies.
As he frequently did during the presidential campaign, Pence attempted to reassure Republicans nervous about Trump's conservative credentials by vouching for his character and principals.
"Make no mistake about it, our president-elect and I believe fervently in the free market," he said.
Pence also laid out some of the top priorities of the Trump administration, vowing to repeal the health care law, expand the military, cut taxes, slash government regulations, appoint conservative justices to the Supreme Court and revoke many of President Barack Obama's executive orders.
"The work is ahead of us not behind us and I want to challenge you to be ready to do that," he told the cheering crowd.