Two potential 2016 presidential candidates shared a stage in Des Moines today, with Indiana Governor Mike Pence using the occasion to speak about foreign policy.
“As President Reagan proved, peace comes through strength and, conversely, weakness arouses evil,” Pence said.
Pence was among six governors who spoke at the Midwest U.S. – Japan Association annual meeting, being held this year in Iowa. The meeting’s focus is on cementing trade ties and educational exchanges between Midwest states and Japan, but Pence took time to talk about the military alliance between the U.S. and Japan.
“Japan is, without a doubt, America’s most important ally in the Pacific,” Pence said. “And so we must acknowledge that a stronger military in Japan with broader capabilities, a stronger military in America will mean a stronger and safer free world.”
AUDIO of Pence’s speech
Pence made visits to Iowa in 2009 and 2010, but he ultimately decided to leave congress and run for governor of Indiana rather than run for president in 2012. Pence had served in congress for 12 years and was one of the top Republican leaders in the U.S. House when he left to become the chief executive of the State of Indiana. He had been a member of House Foreign Affairs Committee, focusing on issues in the Middle East and South Asia.
“In these anxious times of rising aggression from the plains of northern Iraq and Ukraine to the shores of the Pacific, I would submit to you that building a robust and sustainable future will require more than simply maintaining the status quo of our relationships,” Pence said. “I think now is the time to strengthen our economic and strategic ties between Japan and America and all free nations.”
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, another potential presidential candidate in 2016, also spoke to the more than 350 people gathered for the Midwest U.S. – Japan Association meeting. Walker touted the economic records of Republican governors like himself.
“Much of the comeback in America is being led by governors right on this stage and others like us across the Midwest,” Walker said.
AUDIO of Walker’s speech
The Republican governors of Nebraska and Michigan addressed the group, as did Iowa’s Terry Branstad. The lone Democratic governor to speak was Missouri’s Jay Nixon. Missouri will host the Midwest U.S. – Japan Association annual meeting in 2016.
Pence, who did not speak to reporters gathered for today’s event, is hosting a private fundraiser for Branstad over the noon hour in downtown Des Moines.