The record 4.1 percent quarterly growth rate is a "testament" to President Donald Trump's leadership, and the "best is yet to come," Vice President Mike Pence said Sunday.
"Export is growing dramatically, and that added to the reality of 3.7 million new jobs," Pence told Fox News' Maria Bartiromo in an interview recorded Friday after the president's announcement and airing on "Sunday Morning Futures." "I couldn't be more proud to serve alongside a president that's been working everyday to keep the promise he made to the American people. He cut taxes and unleashed American history."
Pence added it is important to recognize the economy grew by less than 2 percent in the past two administrations, now there is "real momentum."
"I was in North Dakota and Montana," he said. "We were out talking to business leaders. The best is yet to come. These numbers tell the tale, but the enthusiasm and confidence across the country among business leaders and businesses large and small tells the same story and more."
There has been a narrative the economy was boosted by China rushing to buy soybeans, crude oil, and other commodities to beat the president's tariffs, but Pence said the reality is "American exports were up by more than 9 percent" over the third quarter, while the national trade deficit dropped by $50 billion.
"We think we are just getting started," he said. "We don't believe this was a reaction to the president's strong leadership in renegotiating our trade relationships – a great breakthrough with the European Union."
Pence added U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer believes the United States could have a reformed NAFTA agreement before Labor Day.
"Those details are still being worked out," Pence said. "The president came into this administration with the belief that for too long Americans, our economy, our workers have been taken advantage of by imbalanced trade deals. Whether it's renegotiating with South Korea or renegotiating NAFTA or resetting the balance in our relationship with the European Union or, of course, resetting the huge imbalance with China we believe that strong leadership is contributing the momentum."
Also in the interview, Pence defended the decision to ban CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins from a White House event after she shouted questions at the president during his appearance with EU President Jean-Claude Juncker.
"This administration believes in the freedom of the press," Pence said. "President Trump and our entire administration have provided extraordinary access to the media. The president answers so many questions. I can assure you we'll continue to do that. Maintaining the decorum that's due at the White House is an issue. I'm very confident with any network this will ensure the access of the American people to this administration. This is incredible progress."
He said he is confident matters will work out, and stressed "every network and news organization will continue to have access. We stand for the freedom of the press in this White House."
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