Pence tells Naval Academy graduates will be 'best friend' to armed forces

Vice President Mike Pence on Friday told the graduating class at the U.S. Naval Academy that “the era of budget cuts is over” and that President Trump is “the best friend the armed forces of the United States will ever have.”

“We’ll make you a promise,” Pence said. “No matter where you’re called to serve, no matter the mission, this commander in chief will always have your back.”

Pence’s 21-minute speech breaks with recent tradition of the president addressing the Naval Academy graduates during their first year in office. Trump is currently overseas at the G7 summit.

Pence told the graduating class of 1,053 midshipmen that “no matter what path you take, know that the commander in chief is proud of you and so am I.”

Pence also recognized the three students from the class of 2017 who died while at the academy.

“America will never forget them,” he said.

In a light-hearted moment, Pence asked the graduates to stand up, find their friends and family in the stands, and applaud them for their support.

Pence received a standing ovation before and after his speech and his comments drew frequent applause.

The vice president, whose son is an officer in the U.S. Marines, faired much better with Friday’s crowd than he had the week before at the University of Notre Dame. At that event, several dozen students in caps and gowns walked out of the ceremony in protest.