By Justin Worland
February 22, 2018

Vice President Mike Pence issued an impassioned condemnation of North Korea at the Conservative Political Action Conference Thursday in response to criticism of his choice to ignore the North Korean Olympic delegation and sit during the country’s national anthem.

“The United States of America doesn’t stand with murderous dictatorships, we stand up to murderous dictatorships,” Pence told the crowd at CPAC. “We will keep standing strong until North Korea stops threatening our country, our allies or until they abandon their nuclear and ballistic missiles once and for all.”

 

Vice President Mike Pence speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Maryland, February 24, 2018.
Mark Peterson—Redux for TIME

Pence attracted media spotlight as the head of the U.S. delegation to the Olympics in Pyeongchang where he sat only a few feet away from the sister of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un during the opening ceremonies but did not acknowledge her. The U.S. has kept a hardline against the country’s aggressive nuclear weapons programs even as key U.S. ally South Korea has pursued a thawing relations. North and South Korean athletes marched under the same flag at this year’s Olympics for the first time since 2006.

Pence’s CPAC address recounted what he described as a laundry list of accomplishments from the Trump administration’s first year in office including tax reform, a changed atmosphere for law enforcement and regulatory rollback, among other things. “2017 was the most consequential year in the history of the conservative movement,” he said.

Pence’s address followed a speech from National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre where the pro-gun advocate came out swinging in his first public remarks since a school shooting in Florida killed 17 people last week. For his part, Pence promised action from the White House to protect students and schools in the form of “American solutions to confront and end this evil in our time.”

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