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WALLACE: In a GOP presidential contest that's as wide open as any in recent memory, our next guest is one of the names being mentioned as a potential candidate. And several recent appearances have created conservative buzz around Indiana Governor Mike Pence as a dark horse outside the beltway choice for president. Mike Pence joins us now. Governor, welcome back to "Fox News Sunday."
PENCE: Thank you, Chris.
WALLACE: You spoke at the NRA's annual leadership conference, forum which is being held in Indianapolis this weekend. You also recently signed a law that would allow guns in locked vehicles in school parking lots. The Indianapolis school superintendent had this to say about that law, "Young people, schools, guns, and all of that is a mix for something inappropriate." Question, governor, do we really need guns closer to schools?
PENCE: Well, let me say, Chris, I have strongly supported the right to keep and bear arms. I truly believe that firearms in the hands of law abiding citizen's makes our families and our communities more safe, not less safe. And the bill that we just signed here in Indiana really was a common sense reform. We actually have parents that had a permit to conceal and carry a weapon that we're finding themselves guilty of a felony just by dropping their kids off to school. So we just -- we made a modest change, a common sense change in Indiana law. And I strongly supported it.
WALLACE: Let me talk about another law that it was recently passed in Georgia, which is being called the guns everywhere law. That would allow guns in bars, in churches, and even in the non-secure parts of the airports. Question, is that a good idea?
PENCE: You know, I haven't looked at that legislation and so I would hesitate to comment on it. But I want to say again, you know, we welcome the National Rifle Association here to Indianapolis. It's tens of thousands of freedom loving Americans. I was grateful to be able to speak to them and interact with them and I really do believe that the right of law abiding citizens to keep and bear arms makes our communities more safe, not less safe. And that's being celebrated here in Indianapolis today. And for however long I serve in public life, Chris, I'll stand on that basic liberty of the right to keep and bear arms.
WALLACE: But you and I talked often on this show during your twelve years as a member of Congress, but in 2012 you were elected governor of Indiana. And I want to take a look at some of the highlights of your record in this last two plus or almost two years. So far, you have cut taxes dramatically. You presided over Indiana as the first state to fall out of the common core national education standards. You pushed a big increase in private school vouchers and you signed a law to spend as much as $400 million on new highway projects. Question, is there a common theme there, governor? Is there a governing philosophy in everything you've been trying to do?
PENCE: Well, I really think there is. It's why we say Indiana is a state that works, Chris. I mean we're demonstrating that you can balance budgets, have strong reserves and nearly $2 billion in the bank. You can still invest in infrastructure and roads and bridges. You can invest in education, innovation and expanded educational opportunity. And the results speak for themselves. We have the lowest unemployment rate in the Midwest. We have one of the fastest growing labor forces in the country and our state is prospering even during these uncertain times because for some time here in Indiana, we've been just putting common sense principles into practice, living within our means, letting people keep more of what they earn, promoting economic freedom like the right to work. And that's why you're seeing increased investment in Indiana, more jobs in Indiana, and I'm awful proud of the progress that people of Indiana have made.
WALLACE: Instead of expanding Medicaid as was allowed under ObamaCare, you got a waiver from the federal government to continue the healthy Indiana plan, which requires participants, these people who didn't qualify for Medicaid in the past, but would now. So they're over the poverty line to pay into the system before they start getting benefits. What is the idea behind that, sir?
PENCE: Well, this is an idea we developed about five years ago in Indiana. It's along the principles of consumer driven health care. You know, when people take greater ownership of their own healthcare and are encouraged to do that in a health plan, their health gets better. They pursue more wellness opportunities. We get them from emergency room care to primary care and also it bends the cost curve over the long term. And as we move forward, I was pleased to be able to renew that program a year ago with a waiver. And we're currently working with the administration to see if we might be able to build on the principles of health savings accounts and consumer driven health care here in the state of Indiana. We really think health savings accounts were kind of invented in Indiana. 95 percent of my state employees have health saving accounts. We have the Healthy Indiana plan. We think it's an idea whose time has come and we think consumer driven health care rather than government driven health care or government mandated health care is the real future of health care in America.
WALLACE: But you have not confined yourself to issues concerning Indiana. During a recent trade mission to Germany, recently you criticized the way President Obama has been handling Ukraine. And you offered this suggestion. Take a look.
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PENCE: But to continued instability in the Middle East and with Putin's aggression in Ukraine, I believe we must take immediate steps to strengthen our mutual security by deploying a robust missile defense in all of Europe.
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WALLACE: Why is the governor of Indiana talking about missile defense and not to get too deeply into it, but how do you think setting up a missile defense in the Czech Republic or Poland is going to stop Putin who is not involved with missiles, but is talking about sending tanks and airplanes over the border or at least threatening to send those over the border into eastern Ukraine? How does missile defense help?
PENCE: Well, first, I was in Germany promoting the state of Indiana. We have more than 12,000 Hoosiers that are employed by German companies. And more to come. And Hoosiers have had a long standing interest in issues affecting the nation at home and abroad. And I'm no different than that. But when I was there, I thought it was important to speak about what I believe would be the right response to Russian aggression in Ukraine. I'm pleased to hear there is more sanctions maybe coming tomorrow. But the truth of the matter is I think we need less talk and more deeds. And by passing and moving rapidly to pass the Transatlantic Trade partnership and frankly by deploying a robust missile shield throughout Europe including in Poland and the Czech Republic that was off lined in 2009 by this administration, I think would send a very strong message to Putin and to Russia that NATO countries and the United States are going to respond by growing stronger economically and strategically. And I believe that -- I believe that's going to have a lot more influence in the long haul than more sanctions and more talk. However meritorious those are, at the end of the day, I think I've always believed in Ronald Reagan's adage, "Peace through Strength." Let's grow stronger on a transatlantic basis in our economies. Let's allow Poland and the Czech Republic to have that missile shield that they were entitled to by joining NATO. I think that's the right strategic response to Russian aggression.
WALLACE: All of which brings us to the possibility of your running for president, sir. I just happened to notice that next month in May you're going to be speaking before the Wisconsin State GOP convention and in June you're going to be speaking before the Alabama state GOP convention. Forgive me for being a little bit cynical here, but it seems like you're leaving the door wide open to running for president.
PENCE: Well, Chris, honestly, my focus is entirely on the future of the people of Indiana. We'll let my future take care of itself.
PENCE: To elected Republican governors.
WALLACE: So why are you speaking to the state conventions in Wisconsin and Alabama?
PENCE: Well, look, despite the fact that some in Washington, D.C., for decades have thought of state government as territorial outposts of the national government, what we've seen in recent years is the rise of leaders at the state level that have been demonstrating from here in Indiana to Wisconsin to all over the country the character and the caliber of leadership that is producing real results. And the time that I can spare away from focusing here in Indiana, I'm focused on electing and re-electing Republican governors. I'm going to be excited to campaign with Scott Walker in the days ahead, with Governor Bentley in Alabama in the days ahead. Because I really do believe that the cure for what ails this country is going to come more from our nation's state capitals than it ever will from our nation's capital.
WALLACE: But, you know, I don't want to beat a dead horse. But I guess I'll hit it one more time. Back in 2012 you were thinking about running for president. You decided not to. I mean does that -- does the idea that perhaps you could help save the nation, solve the nation's problems, does that still beat inside you?
PENCE: Well, let me be honest with you, I'm always humbled and flattered any time I'm mentioned for the highest office in the land. But I honestly think much of that talk is the result of the progress the people of Indiana have been making. I mean the fact is we have the lowest unemployment rate in the Midwest, we demonstrated the ability to balance our budget, cut taxes even while we invest in expanded educational opportunities and infrastructure. So ...
PENCE: I'll take the compliment to heart, but I will defer it to the progress the people of Indiana have made and we'll stay focused here at home.
WALLACE: Governor, thank you. Thanks for joining us. We'll be following what you eventually decide about 2016. And I guess I'll leave this as to be continued, sir.
PENCE: Thank you, Chris.
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