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U.S. Department of State - Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

The 2016 GOP Platform

Steve Yates, Chairman, Idaho GOP
Cleveland, OH
July 20, 2016

Date: 07/20/2016 Location: Cleveland, OH Description: Steve Yates, Chairman of the Idaho GOP, briefs foreign journalists on the 2016 GOP platform at the Republican National Convention. - State Dept Image

11:00 A.M. EDT


MODERATOR: Good morning, everybody. Welcome to the Foreign Press Center. My name is Jennie Young. If you haven’t already done so, please turn off your electronic devices. I’d also like to remind you that the opinions of our speakers are not the views of the United States government. As usual, we will start out with a few remarks, then we’ll open up to questions and answers. When you do have a question, please state your name and the outlet that you represent. And also, Mr. Yates has agreed to make himself available for one-on-ones, so we’ll save some time at the end for that, as well.

Steve Yates is the Chairman of the Idaho Republican party. He is a member of the 2016 GOP Platform Committee. He was one of the co-chairs for the National Security Subcommittee.

He was Senior Campaign Advisor and Director of National Security Staff for Newt 2012, served as Senior [inaudible] Advisor for the Rudy Giuliani Presidential Committee during the 2008 campaign, and he advised the Bush/Cheney 2000 campaign’s Asia Team.

Since 2006, he has been CEO of DC International Advisory which assesses international risk and provides situational awareness of developments in Washington and select foreign capitals. Before opening DC International Advisory, Mr. Yates served in the White House as Deputy Assistant to the Vice President for National Security Affairs from 2001 to 2005.

Please welcome Mr. Steve Yates.

MR YATES: Thank you for having me. I appreciate the rousing round of applause. I’ll just give a few brief remarks. I really would prefer to just be guided by your questions to make sure that I’m here to address the topics that you want to ask.

I’ve been involved in the Idaho Republican party for a couple of years as chairman. It’s interesting to travel around some of the outside-the-Beltway territories in America and hear, actually, impressive interest in things happening in the world, concerns people have about national security. And you’ve already been covering the convention and seeing some of the themes that are coming out of convention. There are two broad areas that come up a lot in our state and that we’re hearing addressed here. One is a sense from people that they want America to be safe again. You’ve probably heard that theme. That there’s general anxiety about things that have come to our shores that make people feel a lesser degree or security. And, so, that’s one of the drivers of interest in the campaign. The other is to make America work again, and you may have heard that theme yesterday. That area is talking more about the bigger area of politics that’s addressed every campaign about economic opportunity, and in particular in this campaign it has looked at revitalizing manufacturing, bringing jobs back on-shore, and looking again at trade relationships. Not necessarily saying never on them, but looking attain at how to maybe rebalance some of those economic relationships. That’s gotten a fair amount of attention. I’m not saying what’s in your mind and what you might want to ask about, but I’m just guessing that there might be questions that have to do with trade agreements and things like that.

I am not an official spokesperson for the Trump campaign. I am affiliated in the sense that I’m a state party chairman and I support our nominee. I am, at times, a surrogate for the Trump campaign, since he is clearly our nominee at this point. But since they didn’t ask me to do this, I am not speaking on their behalf. But I am able to speak the English language and answer questions to the best of my ability, and we’ll see how it goes in terms of addressing the substance that you want to cover.

In the Platform Committee, I’ll just say a few things that were relevant to that process.

Number one, the people who were appointed to these committees at convention are elected by delegates in the states and territories. So there are 56 states and territories combined, so there are 112 members of each of the major committees. On the Platform Committee our delegation, like all of the others, they elected one man and one woman to serve on the Platform Committee. I was the man. There is a woman named Vicky Keene who served form Idaho, and we were among those 112.

Sometimes it’s talked about, well, the RNC or so and so would put their finger on the scales in those committees. It’s not technically really possible to do that, given that the people on the committee are elected from the state delegations.

We met Monday of last week in subcommittees. The National Security Subcommittee conducted its business during about a five-hour period Monday morning. We had pieces of the platform that dealt with what we would refer to as a hollow military; and then honoring our veterans, what we say as honoring our heroes; and then looking at functional global issues; and then what I would refer to as a trip around the world of where we were looking at priority issues in all of the different geographies around the globe.

I believed that we came out with a document that emphasized the importance of having the strongest possible military so that we’ll have peace, not with the aim of going out and conquering, but so that adversaries would figure that it’s not really an option, no point in challenging American leadership in its relationships with its allies so that we might have peace. That we honor our heroes who are veterans in our military and law enforcement so that we might have character. And that we honor and stand by our allies so that challenges and threats abroad are addressed in those regions before they come to our shores. Those were some of the organizing principles behind what we try to do in our platform.

I trust since the platform has been in circulation some of you may have been able to read some of its text. While I did read all 30-plus thousand words of the platform more than once going through the process, I do not contest that I have a perfect memory of all 30,000-plus words, but I’m happy to field any questions you have about any part of the platform, and to give you at least what my experience was in why we arrived at that kind of language, if I know, and what I think it means for our general election campaign.

You may have witnessed some voices on the convention floor about the rules and some of the way votes were tallied. I’m happy to at least give what my perspective is as a delegate, as a chairman of a party that had 20 Cruz delegates and 12 Trump delegates and how our delegation handled the issues with regard to, “Should there be a roll call vote?,” efforts to unbind, and things like that.

So foreign policy, how the convention has gone. At this point I am mercifully in front of you to take your questions. So thank you for showing up.

QUESTION: Nadia Tsao with the Liberty Times, Taiwan.

In the press I think there’s quite a coverage of Taiwan and China. In this [inaudible] for the first time we saw that the party reaffirmed the Six Assurances. I wonder why at this moment this language appeared in the platform.

Also, many Asian allies are anxious about Trump’s foreign policy. We’re just wondering, you know, will Trump actually adopt the party platform? Can this platform speak for his foreign policy? Thank you.

MR YATES: Thank you, Nadia.

On the Taiwan section of the platform, I do believe that this is the strongest platform language in affirming America’s friendship and commitment to Taiwan, compared to any previous platform, Republican or Democrat, from that point of view. The Six Assurances, for those who don’t follow China-Taiwan issues all the time probably have no idea what the Six Assurances are. They’re in the text so you can read what they are in terms of the details. But the purpose is, in 1982 we were at an important point in our relationships with China and Taiwan, and as the United States was embracing a new diplomatic relationship with China, there was real concern among our allies in Taiwan about would we push them into negotiations, and would we favor one side or the other. And the messages that were conveyed in the Six Assurances in 1982 I believe were very well received in Taiwan as reassuring them that we would be fair, we would stand by our friends who had been our allies for decades in the Cold War, and a balancer against communist China during that period.

And at this point in 2016, I think that a lot of those questions are still relevant today. Where we have allies and friends who want to know, will America stand by them? And as they engage in difficult negotiations or relations with their neighbors, whether it be, or those who are within their boundaries, whether it be Israel dealing with its [inaudible] and with Palestinian interests within its sovereignty, or whether it be Taiwan dealing with China. We want to make it clear that the United States stands by our friends, will support democracies, that we’re not going to tip the scales, but we’re also not going to compel our friends to engage in negotiations that they see as against their national interest.

So to me that was a core theme that came out of the 1982 experience. You’ll notice on those Six Assurances they’ve come up in Congress as well as in our party platform, so there have been resolutions in the House and the Senate that have moved through. I hope that they’re seen and received as a gesture of support to long-time friends, and that they are in fact reassuring. But that’s the why those have come along now.

With regard to the platform, and does it speak for Mr. Trump and the Trump campaign’s foreign policy, obviously someone who is officially representing the Trump campaign would have to say, ‘Yes, this is the Trump foreign policy.” I’m not the person to do that now.

But what I can tell you is through the platform process, we had a significant amount of involvement with Trump campaign advisors as we met in our subcommittees and as we went through the full committee’s deliberations over those two days. Coming into this convention there may have been some question about what capacity the Trump campaign had, where their dispositions would be on particular platform issues. As a Republican National Committee member, and as a state party chair, I felt no pressure of the Trump campaign trying to impose its preferences on what we were doing. But there was actually strong support from them that we have a conservative platform. And when we were going through our process there were times when a campaign might have a preference for having language be more general versus more specific, but the Trump campaign was strongly supportive of the language on Taiwan, the language on Israel, language on a number of different areas where there was change from 2012. So at least in those regards I think a reasonable person would say they support the platform.

I have served in the White House before. I can tell you that in five years in the White House, no one began a meeting saying, “What does the party platform say?” But this document is very important to the Republican party. It is very important to people like me who go back to our states and talk to fellow Republicans, help elect people down ticket. This is what their national Republican party is going to be using to engage our voters and turn out our base. And so in that regard, I do think that this is at least an indicator of where the national party is, and I think it’s at least an indicator of an array of policy issues that our nominee I think has said publicly is relatively comfortable with.

I’ve also been through presidential campaigns before. The 2000 campaign, there was a platform in 2000. There were a lot of policy ideas put forward in 2000. And as everyone knows, in September of 2001 there was a terrible event that happened that reordered everyone’s priorities. So I think it would be a little bit short-sighted to imagine that a descriptive document of general party principles is going to be a guideline for specific foreign policies for any administration.

So have I filibustered all other questions? Or is there anything else?

QUESTION: Thomas Gorguissian with Al Tahrir, Egypt newspaper. Thanks to have you.

Can you give a sense of how this process is going? Especially when you’re always dealing with the outcome more than the process. And if you can give me a sense of generally I know, but I want to know more about how you’re looking for diplomacy to play a role in our life, in our world, especially when most of the speeches, especially coming out of the podium in the last two days talking about getting them, hitting them, and whatever.

And of course, what are your priorities in part of this process and your experience, how do you look now to the Middle East in particular, and Egypt, I mean in general, and Egypt in particular?

MR YATES: Well I can appreciate how difficult it is to come from an international perspective and come and watch a national party convention, because our speakers have a very big first priority which is to engage the American audience, where they best estimate the American audience is ready to receive their message. So I think a reasonable person would look at a prime time speech and imagine while you’re speaking to the world, you’re really trying to communicate with specific states, demographics, parts of the audience in the voting public here in the United States. So you’re getting a much heavier dose of people who identify on a visceral level of do they feel safer or less safe since 2008? Do they feel more or less confident about America’s standing in the world? Do they feel like they want to take more risk in engagement in the world, or less risk in engagement in the world? And those broad categories I think are reflected in the tone and content of our speakers so far.

I do know that Speaker Newt Gingrich is going to be one of the keynotes this evening, and he’s someone who is very interested in foreign policy and national security and I would expect - I haven’t seen a draft of his remarks - but I would expect that he will get into some of these details. And at convention in prime time we tend not to give prescriptions of where would we take policy in Asia Pacific, Middle East, Europe, allies, things like that. Some of that the vice presidential nominee, Governor Pence, he may actually give some of these details in his remarks this evening, given that he had a particular commitment and interest in foreign affairs when he served in Congress.

But I think you can reasonably look at what we’ve done in the platform process, and with interaction with people who are in the convention you can get a general idea that in 2016 the broad spectrum of Republicans are maybe more cautious about what the prospect is of governments falling in tumultuous parts of the world. You’re speaking from an Egypt context while we’re watching something unfold in Turkey that is making some people think about the Egypt experience and is it relevant to what’s happening in Turkey? And as you know better than the rest of us in the room, Egypt went through a transition where we had a long-time ally of the United States who was deposed by his people, and then there was I guess you’d call it at this point an interim government that was led by the Muslim Brotherhood which was complicating for a lot of Americans and for American foreign policy, and then was replaced by the military, and now elected leadership of Egypt.

And strategically in this debate so far, from the primary into the general election, people are questioning are we, do we as a country have an interest first and foremost in democratic processes or stability and other equities in a tumultuous region? And I don’t know that it’s a 100 percent either/or proposition, but the mood of the party and the mood of the country seems to be more cautious about maybe we would prefer to have stability.

There’s also a significant concern of the spread of the violent Islamic radicalized ideology. People will talk about is this about a religion or are you looking at particular countries? To me, I think there’s just a preponderance of incidents of concern that tie radicalized ideology in the broader Middle East and within the Muslim faith, that there’s a large number of Americans that are very concerned about this and we want to have functioning, cooperative relationships with governments in the regions that have plans to help contain that spread. So those are I think some of the broad areas. You look at the broader Middle East, I think they want to try to contain the struggle with ISIS, defeat ISIS. But you don’t hear any talk about nation building, trying to write constitutions for other countries, and maybe less talk of do we want a certain leader deposed, or are we going to try to manage a transition?

So I don’t know if that helps in the broad contours of how to think about where Republicans are in 2016.

QUESTION: Jose Carreno with Excelsior in Mexico City.

I have one question which is sort of na��ve. What makes, from the standpoint of the platform or the participants of the platform, what makes a country friend or foe of the United States? And second, in terms of international trade, also again what makes a country friend or foe of the United States?

MR YATES: Fair question, and I don’t know that there’s a permanent answer to that, or that there’s science behind this, but I would use the following metrics that get us into the conversation.

I think in general as we were thinking about the platform, and the Republicans generally tend to think of friends are people that are identified by treaties as our allies. I mean, if you’re an ally and we’re bound to defend one another, I’d like to believe we’re at least friends. Then I think it turns more into a business-like proposition. Are we working on things together to make progress on a common challenge? And if the answer to that is, the majority of the time, yes. That’s, I think a fair demonstration that this particular bilateral relationship is in the friendly category. If the answer is we actually struggle to produce results, or we might feel like we’re going the wrong way in terms of results on national interests, boundaries changing in some of the regions, then I think that’s where you get into a competitor relationship, or a foe.

There are some parts of our platform that we use friend and foe language, but I think a lot of times we’re trying to get in the direction of what it is we aim to accomplish and any work that contributes to that common agenda, that’s a friend. And those who are willing to stand with us, against challenges to that common agenda, well those are competitors and foes.

You asked about trade. What makes someone a friend or foe when it comes to trade? I guess that comes down to where we are in negotiations. And if you are 100 percent on the American side of that and you’re making it all work for us, you’re a friend. If we’re involved in negotiations where we think we need some serious concessions on the other side, well, probably on the less friendly side of the mood music around the negotiations.

The truth is, your country is a major trade partner of the United States and I think that we’ll have competitive and friendly atmospherics around that relationship at all times. When you have that bit of equities, you’re going to have some big disputes and you’re going to have some big benefits going on at the same time. It’s a mature relationship.

What I hear in the current campaign is the suggestion of looking at maybe rebalancing the terms of that relationship. That’s going to be unsettling to some, but it’s going to be reassuring to others.

I think that as long as we have a seriousness of purpose, focusing on the results that need to come in those outcomes, this is an important relationship that we have to manage.

When it comes to the other elephant in the room, it’s more about the economics of migration and the issue of legal versus illegal migration. That’s a whole other basket of issues, but it definitely is relevant to the economic considerations.

I come from the state of Idaho. There are a fair number of people that come from Mexico and work in the agriculture sector of our state. We strongly support legal guest worker kinds of programs. We want to make sure that we know who people are, where they’re coming from, and when they go back so that we have some sense of who’s coming to our country, what they’re doing and why.

But those are kind of, I think, the big issues that help us get a sense of the relationship with Mexico and the friend or foe questions. But I kind of think in government, any time you are on the opposite end of a negotiation, it feels like you’ve gone into a contest where it’s competition, not friendly, until you’re done and hopefully we make the best of the negotiation outcome.

QUESTION: This is Lalit Jha from PTI, Press Trust of India. Welcome to the Foreign Press Center.

MR YATES: Thank you.

QUESTION: Sometimes you also work, you act as a surrogate for the Trump campaign. Do they give you some talking points? And if they are, what are their views on the relationship with India?

Also Mr. Trump has said several times and the platform does mention about securing Pakistan nuclear weapons. How do you do that? Isn’t that comes into the sovereignty domain of Pakistan itself?

And how long Mr. Trump wants to keep his troops in Afghanistan?

MR YATES: Okay. Now, I appreciate the genius of packing five questions together. Forgive me if I don’t remember them all. It’s not because I’m trying to ignore the questions, but I’m just a little slow on the take.

But I’ll start with the campaign view on India. Yes, from time to time I am on a list of people who could be asked by the campaign to come and speak on their behalf. And

when they do that, the campaign will give some recommended guidance on the message they would like us to convey, and some things that may be out there that we should be mindful of to watch out for. That’s kind of standard. It’s kind of what I saw in government. It’s what you see in politics all the time.

With regard to India, I have not been asked to speak about an India topic on behalf of the campaign, so I can’t say that this is sort of the broad message of the Trump campaign on South Asia or India. The platform does have some language on India and Pakistan. And on India, I think it’s the most friendly language the Republican party platform has ever had with regard to the relationship. It’s characterized as an important strategic relationship.

I’ve dealt in Asian Affairs for most of my career and oftentimes - maybe too often - people only think of Northeast Asia and I try to remind them that there’s another billion people in South Asia that are still in Asia, and if you get that much oxygen focused on China, shouldn’t we also be looking at the relationship with India too?

And I think the language in the platform isn’t super long, but it’s positive and gives some broad outlines, and I’d say that is a good starting point of assumption for where a Trump campaign and a Trump administration might begin to think about the relationship with India.

On nuclear issues, it should come as a shock to no one that people would suggest that keeping nuclear weapons secure is an important priority. How we do that with a sovereign government in Pakistan, I think, is a testament to the challenge we have in that relationship, in that we want to have a cooperative enough relationship that we know that radicalization and terrorism and proliferation are under control; and at the same time we recognize that some of the world’s worst people in proliferating, some of the world’s most dangerous weapons, have resided within the geography of Pakistan. The AQ Khan Network was obviously relevant to the nation of Pakistan and that was a major, major concern and priority early in the Bush administration. So a decade and a half ago, that was ground zero for a major proliferation network.

So I think it was a statement in the platform about this priority that I think, again, you can take as a fair guide of how to begin thinking about where a new administration might go. We recognize that Pakistan has been a cooperative ally at times in our history, and yet we have some grave national security concerns and we will have to rely on having a strong and functional relationship with that government in order to address our national security interests, proliferation, and counter-radicalization.

The border with Afghanistan has been an enduring question and problem for a long time. You likely know that geography better than the rest of us in this room. There’s a lot of space that Google Maps will show you that doesn’t look like a whole heck of a lot except for some mountains and other territories, that it’s very difficult to see what’s going on in that area. And obviously there’s been grave concerns about foreign fighters going from that area into Afghanistan, destabilizing the nation of Afghanistan, and killing American soldiers from time to time, which of course is unacceptable to us.

I believe that the Trump campaign hasn’t said anything about troop levels, length of commitment. And, frankly, if I were giving them advice on where to go on this, I see no benefit to a presidential candidate getting into operational specifics on something like this until they come into office, have the full intelligence and operational briefings, and have a time to establish some relationships with leaders in that region to then asses what are the first or second steps a new leader would like to take in that kind of a relationship?

So in a way it’s not a direct answer to the question, but in all honesty, substantively, I think it would be irresponsible for a candidate in a campaign to give a specific answer several months before the election and a half a year away from inauguration day and before assembling a national security team and getting facts on the ground from the region. So.

Did I get most of that?

QUESTION: [Yomiuri Shimbun]. I am Iiyama coming from Japan.

I have a question about TransPacific Partnership, so-called TPP.

In the platform I understand there is no specific mention about the TPP, but last platform in 2012 there was a specific mention about the promotion of TPP. So is this platform backward for the TPP promotion?

And also what kind of discussion was there in the platform committee about the TPP? I understand that, you know, Mr. Trump is not favorable about the TPP, but there are many participants in the Republican party who favor that treaty. So what kind of discussion was there in the committee?

MR YATES: A few elements of context on TPP. First, in terms of in the committee, the platform staff basically took the 2012 platform, looked at all the resolutions the Republican National Committee had passed from 2012 to 2016, had several engagement events to try to meet with key constituencies in the DC policy community, some outreach in different parts of the country.

And then there were some on-line surveys of Republican voters about where their priorities were and things like that. And they pulled all that input, the consultation with our congressional leadership. Speaker Ryan has a policy agenda that he has publicized and has advocated on its behalf. So all those inputs came in.

Then that draft that we began deliberation on already had made clear that we were not taking a specific position on TPP in the platform. Our nominee, Mr. Trump, has already said, I think the direct quote is, “It’s a bad deal.”

Now I think that prior to arriving at this general election season Washington had been filled with people trying to gauge, will there be a vote on TPP? And it was near unanimous opinion that it will not come up for a vote before the election.

Then there was a discussion about would it be handled in a lame duck session? And people have been debating and pontificating about would it be held in a lame duck session?

At this point you have the nominee of the Democratic party and the nominee of the Republican party suggesting that it’s a bad deal. Now the difficulty is, the nominee of the Democratic party was for it before she was against it, and so for us at least, it’s in the question mark category. But across both parties I think there is significant political question about proceeding with TPP in its current form.

And I would also remind you that in the 2008 cycle there was a free trade agreement negotiated with one of our treaty allies, South Korea, getting at somewhat that earlier question about what makes someone a friend or foe and where are you in negotiations? And it was Barrack Obama that suggested that deal was not good enough and needed to be renegotiated.

That free trade agreement was for all intents and purposes more complete than TPP is at this point. It also involved only a treaty ally, as opposed to a multilateral arrangement that takes more time, more explanation. And, yet, it was President Obama’s team going through that cycle and then for the beginning of the administration that renegotiated some of the key terms of that trade relationship.

I would just suggest with the roles reversed on which party is in the driver’s seat on this, that we’re maybe in a parallel situation with regard to TPP. And I can’t say whether TPP will come back to the fore of the agenda if some of the questions, concerns, are addressed early in a new administration. But at this point, I think it’s categorically blocked by both major parties for consideration for the foreseeable future.

The concept may revive after the election, but for now I don’t think there’s any chance of the Republican party pushing for this to be a vote in Congress and we’ll have to wait and see what a new administration does in renegotiating or recasting the question.

QUESTION: Excelsior, Mexico. I hope you can and will comment on this one but it’s much more in the domestic side of politics.

It is in the [inaudible] there was a post mortem and now this is a campaign, where the authors claim that the Republican party needed to be more attractive to minorities and ethnic groups, et cetera, et cetera. In 2016 now the critics, the criticisms are that we don’t care. Something like that.

So I wonder if you can give me a, or give us, I’m sorry, sort of a tour around that concept or around the way, the lines of thought that took from that 2012 post mortem to the current attitudes.

MR YATES: Right.

You’re absolutely correct. There was this post mortem and there were some policy recommendations made at that time where they tried to project into 2016 for the party to adapt, and the RNC took those recommendations very, very seriously.

I was elected a state chairman in 2014 and I’m automatically made a member of the RNC by way of that election. Which is a way of saying all of that autopsy and reaction to the autopsy was done before I attended a single meeting in the RNC. So all I have is where I pick up from there going forward.

As a general prospect, though, I am not a respecter of the idea that you can just look at clinical categories of people and say if you are of this gender, ethnicity, orientation, or whatever else, you will naturally only be best engaged if you take this position on immigration, if you take this position on taxes, if you take this position on welfare, or these other political ideas.

What I see the Republican party in Idaho doing, what I see the Trump campaign beginning to do in a much more developed capacity, and what the RNC has been working on, we have major engagement efforts where we go into communities and we talk about what we believe, what our priorities are, and we try to listen to what different communities and constituencies have to say about what those interests and priorities are, and then we try to see are there areas where we actually agree and can work together and accentuate the positive in that.

When I go to faith communities in my state or in other states, I see people of all different persuasions and backgrounds, and for them, religious liberty is a very high priority. They feel like the First Amendment rights of freedom of religion have been taking somewhat of a beating, at least a challenge in recent years, and their priority, no matter what language they speak first, and no matter what their family picture looks like, they care about being safe to exercise those rights and express that part of their humanity, their existence.

When you go into different communities and they look at towns where manufacturing has gone way down, you have steel industry that’s represented here, actually, and then you look at other areas where you have coal and other areas that have been hard hit by economic developments and by some economic policies. The campaign is trying to reach out to those working families and to people who have an interest in revitalizing those industries.

Again, same proposition applies. The right to have that opportunity for that job applies to everyone, no matter what their family picture looks like. And no matter what their first language is.

So we’re trying to focus first and foremost on what do we need to do together as a country to help our economy grow, make America grow again, to keep us safe so we have the luxury of growing our economy, and being proud of the kind of country that we have.

We’re a country that was born of ideas, not set by any one religion, principality, anything like that. We’re a nation founded on ideas. And those ideas are accessible to and I think acceptable to a huge majority of Americans of all persuasions.

So we try to focus in those areas as opposed to saying well, because you look a certain way you must want to vote a certain way and you must care only, or particularly, about certain issues.

I rode the bus back from our meeting last night with a delegate from Baltimore. He and I standing next to each other wouldn’t look the same. Frankly, he looks more like my children than he looks like me. But he was talking about his interest in the Trump campaign and in the Republican party was fundamentally changed because he felt like one political party had been governing the city of Baltimore for so long that they had lost touch with the people of Baltimore. They were concerned about public safety they were concerned about economic development. He said all I want to focus on is what are we going to do together to get results? And he felt like the Democratic party had left him and his family behind in that regard.

And I think it’s more effective for us to engage urban communities and people of different walks of life on that level, where they feel like the interests of their family and their community are affected.

So that’s my thought about it. I see some evidence that that’s the approach the campaign is taking. It’s certainly informed in the approach that the party is taking.

When I go to a Spanish-speaking faith community in the state of Idaho, there are plenty of people who care about immigration. There are some who care very much that a legal migration policy is put in place so that those who went through the time and trouble to come the right way are not put at a disadvantage by those who have come the wrong way.

But there’s also a concern about treating people with humanity, and in the context of engaging a faith community, you’re in a unique position to try to talk about those policy and political issues in a way that’s different from the hard edge of just saying a binary choice - black and white - in front of a camera.

So that I think is what we’re trying to do. I’ve heard from my friend who’s a chairman in Arizona where he goes and meets with Native American tribes. He’s met with the Pakistani-American leaders in his state. These people in general had fallen into one voting bloc, but by showing up and listening and trying to work on a common agenda, we’re actually getting people to switch as elected officials from Democrat to Republican, and some to register as Republican and vote for people on our ticket for the first time in their lives.

So that’s the work that we have to do as party chairs and people on the ground engaging. And I see some evidence of the national campaign moving in that direction. I think it’s related to but not guided by the specifics of that autopsy.

QUESTION: First of all, sir, thank you very much. My name is Fouad Arif, North American Director for the Moroccan News Wire MAP.

I would like you, sir, to give us a feel of what the national security platform says with regards to fighting terrorism in North Africa and the Sahel. For example, the United States has a triangular cooperation with Morocco, I mean a country with whom the U.S. has a free trade agreement. Are you going to go and look for local champions to enhance the fight against terrorism?

MR YATES: Well my sense is from the platform language, again, I think we’ve avoided giving specific policy prescriptions of say like would we provide particular equipment or arms to particular people? Do we favor keeping in place or deposing particular leaders? But looking first and foremost at what is the challenge and do we need a fresh approach to balancing our interests across the region?

I think that it’s very, very clear that when you’re looking at North Africa the experience a country has had with Libya has not been a positive one in terms of the way developments have unfolded there. The fact that in the aftermath of the unpleasantness related to the Benghazi controversy and what is seen by a lot of Americans as a lack of follow-through, there’s been a resurgence of radicalized groups that seem to be taking over more territory, governing things in what we worry may be leaning in the direction of a failed state. That affects the perception of that entire region.

The perception of how we intervened was one of those where it seemed, at least to me and maybe some others, as somewhat of a half measure. There was air assault, there was enough to support ground forces to depose a leadership. But then there wasn’t follow-through to support a more secular, more constructive government to get on its feet in its wake.

And I think from what I’ve heard from Mr. Trump through this primary and where the party was in the discussions in our platform deliberations, we do not have consensus support for any form of nation-building or trying to write constitutions for other countries. But we are gravely concerned about migration flows that spread radicalization and the risk of states falling.

So I think it leaves us with how do we identify partners who know better than we do how to counter these radicalized movements? What do they say they need? If they say they need material support, my sense is that would be on the table for discussion. But it’s not the first and the only option.

I think that we have to have coordination from things as small as communication. How do we talk about these challenge and threats in ways that lend support to those that we want to be successful on their own? How do we help our other friends in regions around the world help them too? It shouldn’t be an America only thing. All of our allies should have a vested interest in trying to help the forces for good in the North Africa region, the broader Middle East.

The continent of Europe is facing some unique challenges at this time with large migration flows, significant security questions, unfortunate terrorist incidents that have been happening on their soil. They should have just as much of a vested interest in trying to go through the same process.

So I think what I’ve gotten from impressions of the Trump campaign and where the Republican party is, we don’t want to be the ones telling our allies and friends and collaborators what they must do. We want to know, what do our friends and allies say they’re going to do? What resources do they have that they’re going to put at this question? Do our other friends and allies in a region have a plan to contribute? And after they have done these things, what is it the United States can do to push it over the finish line for success? Which is the reverse of the way a lot of us have been talking and thinking about things of America leads: this is the plan, let’s get a coalition to follow.

So I think that’s the transition in thinking and policy order that we’re going through. It doesn’t give you specifics about Morocco, Libya, or across the North Africa tier. But that’s basically what I can share about how we’re thinking about it.

Thank you.

MODERATOR: I think we’re going to go ahead and take our last question from this gentleman, so we can save some time at the end for one-on-ones. Thanks.

QUESTION: Alexey Kachalin, TASS News Agency.

I’d like to ask your opinion, if you don’t mind. What do you think of Mr. Pence as candidate for vice president? Do you think it’s the right choice for Mr. Trump? Because some people say the problem is that people don’t know him very well, and they define him as just some governor, and they think that he’s not very popular. So what do you think? Can he be a kind of a stabilizer for Mr. Trump’s campaign and appeal to a more conservative audience?

And one more question, if you don’t mind, concerning Russia. So there is a view that Mr. Trump’s attitude towards Russia is much more friendly than what the platform actually says. So how can you describe the GOP approach to Russia as a whole? And isn’t there contradictions with Mr. Trump’s personal views on that matter?

MR YATES: I reserve the right to answer the first part of the question and avoid the second part of the question. We’ll see.

On Governor Pence, obviously you have to take this with a caveat that I’m an elected state party chairman for the Republican party. A member of the Republican National Committee. And I’m at the convention to nominate Mr. Pence to be the next vice president of the United States. So of course I’m going to say he’s an outstanding choice to be the vice president of the United States.

I have also had the privilege, over the years from time to time, when I worked at the Heritage Foundation in the 1990s, and after I left government and was working in the private sector, of seeing then Congressman Pence in action and had very collaborative work with is office. I had respect for what he was doing on the Policy Committee in the House, on issues related to foreign affairs.

I see him as a very reassuring selection as running mate to a lot of Republican voters.

Mr. Trump has taken a different approach to campaigning and he has met with unparalleled success in terms of the total number of votes cast in the Republican nominating process. That is very significant.

Mr. Pence comes up through a more traditional political structure and he has famously described himself as a Christian first, a conservative second, and a Republican third, in that order. So he speaks the same language of a lot of traditional conservatives in the United States. He is reassuring on policy, given that he has a very deep knowledge of U.S. policy -- domestic, foreign, and otherwise -- from his time in Congress and, frankly, his time as governor. He brings some governance experience into the mix in terms of how the White House will operate.

I had the privilege of working for vice presidents and I remember early in 2001 where there were lots of stories about Vice President Cheney supposedly being Prime Minister of the country and George W. Bush somewhat being along for the ride. It was never that case. And I think that any time you’re looking at a running mate and a team going into a White House, there’s never a question of who the top of the ticket is. There’s only one president at a time. There’s only one presidential nominee at a time. They are the only game in town. And a running mate’s job and a vice president’s job is to do the best they possibly can to make the top of the ticket and the future president as successful as possible.

The success of that team comes down to the kind of rapport that the two men will have with each other and how much does President Trump ask of Vice President Pence to fill in. Past presidents have sometimes asked vice presidents to work on task forces. The vice president is a statutory member of the National Security Council, so by definition the vice president always has a seat in the situation room table on all of the national security deliberations that go through that process. And so it’s what I would say even if I didn’t believe it, but I do believe every bit of what I just said. I’ve known somewhat of Mike Pence for the better part of two decades and have been impressed with his demeanor, his management of policy and people. He has had some wins and some losses along the way. I can just speak from personal experience in politics. Sometimes we learn the most and grow the most from our losses and mistakes. And, frankly, I’m more scared of someone who thinks they haven’t made a mistake and won’t make mistakes coming in.

So I think he brings great perspective to the ticket.

There were some other people who are considered, as was mentioned in the introduction. I did support Newt Gingrich in the last presidential cycle. I was happy to see him as one of the people that as a very senior surrogate he’ll be speaking tonight. He was talked about in the context of this. Just out of friendship I’m happy for him that he was considered. I’m happy for him that he wasn’t chosen, because I’m sure he’s going to be employed, as Mr. Trump has said publicly, in some way, shape, or form in a Trump administration, and I respect his intellect and his contribution to politics and policy. We’ll see where it goes.

But I think Mr. Pence was a good choice. And we’ll see tonight as he reintroduces himself to the nation and to the world why it was a good pick. And maybe it would be better to have that question after we see that reintroduction.

Has the whole world paid attention to what’s been going on in Indiana over the recent years? I’m sure all the Hoosiers would say shame on you for not continually covering the great state of Indiana for the last several years. But I can understand why there would be need for a reintroduction. I think he’s going to do a great job.

Now on the Russia question and the platform. Obviously there is speculation about what relations with particular leaders will be. Candidates, from time to time, will say things that will characterize what the relationships are or what they might be. I think that the general principles that came out in the platform reflect consultation between people on the committee and people in the campaign. I am unaware of any objection by the campaign to the language that’s in it.

But every president has the opportunity to establish rapport with leaders of other countries. Every president has an opportunity to recalibrate the balance of interests between our countries. The Obama administration has Secretary Clinton famously go and give a reset button to a leader of Russia at the time. I don’t expect we’re going to have a reset button when it comes to a transition to a Trump administration, but it’s a natural process of coming into government, having an interagency review, and a new president put his own imprimatur on what our priorities are and the quality of the relationship. I expect there will be some recalibrating, but I can’t say what they’ll likely be.

And of course, the leader of Russia has an influence over whether this is going to be a friendly and collaborative relationship per the earlier conversation that is accomplishing things that are truly of value to our country.

MODERATOR: Okay, great. Thank you so much.

Now we’re going to take some time for some one-on-ones. So for those of you who want to do one-on-ones, if you could come up here.

But I want to thank you so much for your time. You’ve been very gracious.

MR YATES: Thank you. Thank you for taking the time.

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