COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4) – Vice President Mike Pence delivered the commencement address at the Air Force Academy graduation, addressing nearly a thousand cadets including the first class of Space Force graduates.

“While we don’t look like the usual graduation, let me tell you this is an awesome sight,” he told the class.

Vice President Mike Pence (credit: Air Force)

After the ceremony, he gave an exclusive, and in these days rare, face-to-face, interview to CBS4 Political Specialist Shaun Boyd. He explained why he felt compelled to be at the graduation in person.

“Knowing what these cadets have gone through over the last several months, what our nation has gone through, the president and I thought it was very important for me to be here.”

It is the first sanctioned large event since the coronavirus shutdown. Gov. Jared Polis was the first to greet the Vice President when he stepped off Air Force Two.

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO – APRIL 18: Colorado Governor Jared Polis, left, speaks with Vice President Mike Pence as he arrives at Peterson Air Force Base before giving a graduation address at the Air Force Academy on April 18, 2020 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. After senior cadets spent more than a month on lockdown in the Air Force Academy’s dorms due to the coronavirus pandemic, Saturday’s graduation, which was moved up by six weeks, marks the first time a military academy is graduating a class early since WWII. (Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)

Polis has blamed the federal government for Colorado’s lack of testing. Nationwide, less than one percent of the population has been tested. Pence says his goal is to have five million tests by the end of the month.

“As we work with our governors, as we work to bring more labs online across Colorado and across America, we’ll have the testing to support the level of testing contemplated in our guidelines, in phase one.”

RELATED: Latest Updates On The Coronavirus Outbreak In Colorado

Calls are growing across the country to reopen the economy now. A protest is set for Sunday in Denver. Pence wouldn’t say if Colorado is ready.

CBS4 Political Specialist interviews Vice President Mike Pence. (credit: CBS)

“We’re working closely with Governor Polis and governors around the country to give the kind of guidance so the governors can make a decision. I believe the sentiment you see across country is – from our president on down – America would like to see America back to work.”

Coloradans also want to see the Broncos back in action. Pence punted on that question for now.

“We remain hopeful.”

He did have good news on the small business loan forgiveness program, “I heard on Air Force Two on the way here that we are very close to an agreement to expand that funding.”

Some small businesses like casinos and ski resorts, which are big economic drivers in Colorado, have been excluded from the funding. Pence says he is working with Congressional leaders to identify specific areas of the economy that need help.

(credit: CBS)

“As you saw the strength of all of these incredible, new Air Force officers, America is going to come back stronger than ever before.”

Watch CBS4’s Political Specialist Shaun Boyd’s full one-on-one interview with Vice President Mike Pence:

CBS4 Political Specialist Shaun Boyd and Photojournalist Rob McClure we’re invited to meet the Vice President at Petersen Air Force Base and ride in his motorcade to the Academy graduation. His staff asked Boyd and McClure to be tested for coronavirus before the interview and provide documentation that the tests came back negative for the virus.

Shaun Boyd

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