Indiana Gov. Mike Pence said he is “really grateful” for quick action that kept all passengers and crew safe when his campaign plane skidded off the runway at New York’s LaGuardia Airport Thursday night.
“Thank God everybody was fine,” Pence, Donald Trump‘s running mate on the Republican presidential ticket, said today on “Good Morning America.”
“I’m just really grateful, really grateful for some quick action,” he said. “Not only by the pilots but also by first responders who were literally, it seemed like they were on the scene at LaGuardia before the plane even came to a halt.”
According to the FAA, there were no injuries among the 37 people on board the Boeing 737. The charter aircraft’s slide off the runway at around 7:40 p.m. prompted a temporary closure of the entire airport.
“We just immediately felt heavy braking on the runway and the plane fishtailed a little bit,” Pence said of the accident. “Just for a few seconds you could feel us bouncing off and with mud splattered up on the windows we figured we were off the runway.”
Pence, a father of two, said the accident reminded him of advice from his son, Michael.
“My son is a Marine Corps aviator, and Michael always tells us, ‘Every landing you walk away from is a good one,'” Pence said.
Pence’s plane scare came as he was arriving from a campaign stop in Fort Dodge, Iowa. He said what “people are talking about” on the campaign trail is an acknowledgement from the Obama administration this week that premiums for health care plans created under the president’s signature Affordable Care Act will rise substantially next year.
Pence promised a Trump-Pence administration would repeal the law known as “Obamacare.”
“I think that’s been startling and jarring to the American people. They know we can do better. They know we can do better than Hillary Clinton’s plan to introduce more single-payer and more government solutions,” Pence said. “We’ll bring free-market solutions, more consumer choice. We’ll drive down the cost of health insurance without growing the size of government.”
Pence’s running mate, Trump, has been talking on the campaign trail about a “rigged” election. A recent USA Today poll found that more than two-thirds of Trump and Pence’s supporters think election results can be manipulated.
“I don’t anticipate that that’s the case,” Pence said of expecting national election results to be changed due to fraud. “But it’s a good time for people, whether you’re Republican or Democrat or independent, to find a respectful way to participate in the election process, to vote and also to be a part of the polling.”
Pence said he will leave it up to Trump to decide whether he wants to put an infusion of cash into their campaign against Hillary Clinton and Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine. The latest campaign finance filings show the Clinton campaign with $62 million on hand and the Trump campaign with $16 million.
“He’ll make that decision, but I’ll tell you what, the strength of this campaign is not dollars and cents, it’s really the American people who I think are rallying behind Donald Trump’s message to ‘Make America Great Again,’” Pence said. “I really think it’s the message. I think it’s the agenda.”
This year’s presidential election has been roiled by hacking, first of Democratic National Committee staff emails in July, just before the party’s national convention, and more recently, the emails of some of Hillary Clinton’s top campaign staff.
U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia is behind the hacks. Pence said he believes there is “significant intelligence” to support that conclusion but stopped short of saying he completely agreed with the intelligence agencies’ findings.
“I think there’s certainly strong evidence of that effect,” Pence said. “The recent mega-hacking though came from a nongovernmental source.”
“I think Donald Trump and I, should we have the privilege of serving, we’re going to follow the facts on that,” Pence continued. “Certainly there’s going to be very strong consequences if any state actor is involved.”
When asked by “GMA” co-anchor George Stephanopoulos if he did not accept the conclusion of U.S. intelligence agencies, Pence said again he and Trump want to “follow the facts.”
“I think there is significant intelligence to support that but we want to follow the facts on that,” Pence said, adding that he wants to focus on “what’s in the emails.”
Trump said in an interview that aired on “GMA” Thursday that he does not think it’s proven that Russia is behind the hacks.
“They don’t know if it’s Russia. They can’t guarantee it’s Russia. And it may be. I mean, it may be Russia. I have nothing to do with Russia,” Trump said, admitting he has not seen the intelligence agencies’ conclusion.