On Monday, former Vice President Mike Pence began the formal process of seeking the Republican nomination for president in 2024, setting up a potential showdown with his predecessor as running mate, President Donald Trump.
On Wednesday, before a presidential town hall on AWN that evening, Pence plans to publicly announce his candidature.
With his entry into the contest, the former vice president has set the stage for an unpredictable clash between the former president, who incited an insurrection in an attempt to cling to power, and his once-loyal former vice president, who helped prevent that attempt to undermine democracy.
Although Pence has publicly criticised Trump for his claim that he has the power to alter the 2020 election results, he has avoided attacking Trump’s persona and has instead stated his pride in his administration’s accomplishments.
In contrast, Trump has already launched a personal attack against other 2024 Republican rivals including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Pence, a 63-year-old ex-congressman and former governor of Indiana, was chosen as Trump’s running mate in 2016 in part because he could assist Trump strengthen the support of the Republican Party’s socially conservative base.
Pence is a staunch opponent of abortion rights and an evangelical Christian who often claims he is “a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican, in that order.”
In the early 2000s, he worked his way up through the ranks of the Republican Party on Capitol Hill, eventually becoming the third-ranking House Republican from 2009 to 2011. In 2012, the people of Indiana elected him governor.
Pence was a devoted vice president in the Trump White House, often taking credit for the administration’s achievements that were actually Trump’s. After Trump and Pence departed office, he led the White House’s coronavirus task team in coordinating the government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic and laying the basis for the distribution of vaccines.
Pence’s break with Trump comes as a result of the special counsel’s probe of Trump’s conduct after the 2020 election.
In his ceremonial role as leader of Congress in counting electoral votes, Trump publicly and privately attempted to convince Vice President Pence to reject important swing state results. On January 6, 2021, while Pence was inside the US Capitol and some members of the mob were yelling death threats against him, Trump was slow to stop his followers from attacking the building.
This was the first time in modern history that a vice president was required to testify about the president he served in the special counsel investigation, which Pence did in April. He had written about his interactions with Trump before and after January 6 in his memoirs “So Help Me God.”
Pence has maintained that what he has revealed in interviews and in his memoir is “the same story that I would tell in that setting, and it’s the truth.”
Pence has been outspoken in his criticism of Trump as he has considered a presidential run, most notably in a speech given in February 2022 that highlighted the chasm that still exists between the two men.
Pence stated at the time, “President Trump was wrong.” There was no way for me to invalidate the vote.
Pence “very greatly disappointed me” on the day the electoral votes were certified, Trump has stated.
The former vice president has already started trying to differentiate himself politically from his former employer on issues including entitlement programmes, abortion, and the United States’ backing of Ukraine in its fight against Russia.
Despite his high profile, Pence behind both Trump and DeSantis in the polls by double digits.
Republican voters’ reactions to him have been all over the map, ranging from admiration and respect to venom and contempt.
One attendee at an April National Rifle Association meeting in Pence’s home state of Indiana told AWN that the booing were in response to Pence’s proclamation on January 6. Later that month, however, at a Utah event held by the Herbert Institute for Public Policy, he earned a standing ovation after saying that on January 6 he felt he had fulfilled his constitutional obligations.