Former Vice President Mike Pence opened his 2024 presidential campaign Wednesday with a speech where he said he was ‘proud’ to serve with Donald Trump but also condemned the former president for asking him to choose personal loyalty over the Constitution.
‘Anyone who asks someone else to put them over the Constitution should never be president of the United States again,’ Pence said as he launched his campaign in battleground Iowa.
He spoke at length about his ceremonial role, and made reference to the threat rioters posed to himself and his family, on a day when someone constructed a scaffold near the U.S. Capitol.
‘On that fateful day, President Trump’s words were reckless. They endangered my family,’ Pence told a crowd of supporters.
‘The American people deserve to know that on that day, President Trump also demanded that I choose between him and the Constitution. Now voters will be faced with the same choice. And I chose the Constitution and I always will,’ he intoned.
The former VP, governor, and congressman’s speech was filled with bold pronouncements, and some awkward constructs about the man who propelled him to the White House.
‘My former running mate continues to insist I had the right to overturn the election,’ said Pence, alternating between using Trump’s name and avoiding it.
‘On that fateful day, President Trump’s words were reckless. They endangered my family,’ former VP Mike Pence told a crowd of supporters as he launched his presidential campaign and admonished former President Donald Trump for his actions on that day
He called for restoring a ‘threshold of civility’ in the nation, and described his ceremonial role of counting electoral votes certified by states.
‘I understand the disappointment many still feel at the outcome of the 2020 election … but I had no right to overturn the election. And Kamala Harris will have no right to overturn the election when we beat them in 2024,’ Pence said in an applause line.
But Pence also sought to run on the Trump legacy, as the man who demanded his loyalty on January 6 maintains the lion’s share in opinion polling for the Republican nomination.
‘I was proud to stand by President Donald Trump every single day when we made America great again,’ Pence said in his speech.
He also took a shot at rival Ron DeSantis for calling Russia’s war on Ukraine a ‘territorial dispute,’ then appeared to swipe the Florida governor’s slogan when he called for a ‘great American comeback.’
Pence launched his bid for the Republican party’s 2024 presidential nomination with an emotive video, making him the first vice president in modern history to take on his former running mate.
The nearly three-minute clip, posted to his Twitter account on Wednesday morning, highlights how his Irish immigrant family ‘has lived the American dream’, while taking aim at President ‘Joe Biden and the radical left for weakening the country at home and abroad’.
Pence has previewed a presidential run for months after his relationship with Donald Trump soured in the final days of his presidency.
During the January 6 Capitol attack, rioters called for the hanging of Pence, who was still vice president at the time. Trump did not denounce these threats and even backed his supporters calling for the death of his No. 2.
Additionally, Pence has already testified in cases involving Trump and could serve as a witness in a series of legal challenges the former president is still facing.
Pence will formally kick-off his campaign with an event in Des Moines, Iowa later in the day Wednesday.
Mike Pence (pictured in his campaign video) launched his bid for the Republican party’s 2024 presidential nomination with an emotive video, making him the first vice president in modern history to take on his former running mate
‘I believe in the American people, and I have faith God is not done with America yet. Together, we can bring this Country back, and the best days for the Greatest Nation on Earth are yet to come!’ he wrote on Twitter, along with the announcement video.
‘Different times call for different leadership,’ Pence says in the video posted just hours before appearing in the first-in-the-nation primary caucus state of Iowa.
‘Today our party and our country need a leader that’ll appeal, as Lincoln said, to the better angels of our nature.’
While it would be ‘easy to stay on the sidelines,’ he adds, ‘that’s not how I was raised. That’s why today, before God and my family, I’m announcing I’m running for president of the United States.’
Even before announcing his candidacy, Pence has secured his third-place spot in national polling.
According to a tracking by FiveThirtyEight, Pence has 5.4 percent support among the already crowded GOP primary field. His No. 3 spot, however, is a far 16 percent behind second place Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Trump is still securely in first with 53.7 percent.
Highlighting his background in the announcement video, Pence said he was ‘a son of the heartland, grandson of an Irish immigrant.’
Therefore, he said, ‘My family has lived the American Dream. I had the great honor to serve in Congress, as Governor, and as your Vice President, and I’ll always be proud of the progress we made together, for a stronger, more prosperous America.’
He then took aim at Biden and the Democratic party, saying: ‘today, our country’s in a lot of trouble. President Joe Biden and the radical left have weakened America at home and abroad. The American Dream is being crushed under run-away inflation, wages are dropping, recession is looming.
‘Our southern border is under siege, and the enemies of freedom are on the march around the world, and worse still, timeless American values are under assault as never before.
‘We’re better than this,’ he added.
Pence is staking his presidential hopes on Iowa as he holds an event to launch his campaign for the Republican nomination in Des Moines later today.
Pence and his advisers see Iowa – the state that will cast the first votes of the GOP nominating calendar – as key to his potential pathway to the nomination.
Its caucus-goers include a large portion of evangelical Christian voters, whom they see as a natural constituency for Pence.
They also think Pence, who represented Indiana in Congress and as governor, is a good personality fit with the Midwestern state.
His campaign will also test the party’s appetite for a socially conservative, mild-mannered and deeply religious candidate who has denounced the populist tide that has swept through his party under former President Donald Trump.
And it will show whether Pence still has a political future after January 6, 2021, with a large portion of GOP voters still believing Trump’s claims that the 2020 election was stolen and that Pence had the power to reject the results.
The clip, posted to his Twitter account on Wednesday morning, highlights how his Irish immigrant family ‘has lived the American dream’, while taking aim at President ‘ Joe Biden and the radical left for weakening the country at home and abroad’
Pictured: A Pence family photo seen in the campaign video released today
Pence is staking his presidential hopes on Iowa as he holds an event to launch his campaign for the Republican nomination in Des Moines later today. Pictured: Pence’s campaign video
Mike Pence’s Presidential launch video speech in full:
The land of opportunity. Beacon of democracy. The shining city on a hill. Land of the free, home of the brave. The United States of America.
As a son of the heartland, grandson of an Irish immigrant, those aren’t just words. My family has lived the American Dream. I had the great honor to serve in Congress, as Governor, and as your Vice President, and I’ll always be proud of the progress we made together for a stronger, more prosperous America.
But today, our country’s in a lot of trouble. President Joe Biden and the radical left have weakened America at home and abroad. The American Dream is being crushed under runaway inflation, wages are dropping, recession is looming. Our southern border is under siege, and the enemies of freedom are on the march around the world. And worse still, timeless American values are under assault as never before.
We’re better than this. We can turn this country around. But different times call for different leadership. Today our party and our country need a leader that’ll appeal, as Lincoln said, ‘to the better angels of our nature’.
I have long believes to whom much is given much will be required. My family and I have been blessed beyond measure with opportunities to serve this nation, and it’d be easy to stay on the sidelines.
But that’s not how I was raised. As for today, before God and my family, I’m announcing I’m announcing I’m running for President of the United States.
We can bring this country back, we can defend our nation and secure our border, we can revive our economy and put our nation back on a path to a balanced project, defend our liberties and give American a new beginning for life.
President Reagan described this as a ‘shining city on the hill’. And above all, he called on Americans to renew optimism, and believe in themselves again. To believe in each other.
Every time our nation has produced leadership that has called upon this country to do hard things, the American people have always risen to the challenge. And we will again. We just need Government as good as our people to do it.
I believe in the American people. And I have faith. God is not done with America yet, and together, we can bring this country back and the best days – for the greatest nation on earth – are yet to come.
God bless you. And God bless the United States of America.
Pence faces steep challenges.
He enters the race as among the best-known Republican candidates in a crowded GOP field that now includes Trump, DeSantis, former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, among others.
But Pence – seen by Trump critics as complicit with his most indefensible actions and maligned by Trump loyalists as a traitor – also has highly unfavorable ratings.
A CNN poll conducted last month found 45 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents said they would not support Pence under any circumstance. Only 16 percent said the same about Trump.
Pence’s favorability has also slipped in Iowa, according to The Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll.
Shortly after leaving office, in June 2021, 86 percent of Iowa Republicans said they had a favorable view of Pence.
But the Register’s March Iowa Poll showed that figure had dropped to 66 percent.
The poll also found Pence with higher unfavorable ratings than all of the other candidates it asked about, including Trump and DeSantis, with 26 percent of Republicans polled saying they have a ‘somewhat’ or ‘very’ unfavorable view of him.
And just 58% of Iowa evangelicals said they had favorable feelings toward Pence – a particularly disappointing number, given his campaign’s strategy.
But Pence, who has already visited Iowa more than a dozen times since leaving office, has also received a warm welcome from voters during his trips.
During a ‘Roast and Ride’ event over the weekend that drew a long list of 2024 candidates, Pence stood out as the only candidate to actually mount a Harley and participate in the event’s annual motorcycle ride.
When he arrived at a barbecue at the state fairgrounds, he moved easily from table to table, warmly greeting and chatting with attendees.
But there remains lingering skepticism of Pence among many Republican voters who adhere to the persistent conspiracy theory that the 2020 election was stolen.
Many believe Pence was complicit in the plot to deny Trump a second term because he refused Trump’s pressure campaign to reject the Electoral College vote when he presided over a joint session of Congress on Jan. 6, 2021, when a mob of Trump’s supporters violently stormed the building.
Some rioters even threatened to kill Pence.
Pence advisers say they recognize the challenge and intend to explain to voters directly that Pence was adhering to his constitutional duty and never had the power to impact the vote in his ceremonial role.
‘I think it’s something you have to walk straight through,’ said his longtime adviser Marc Short.
Beyond Jan. 6, his team sees their primary goal as reintroducing Pence to a country that largely knows him as Trump’s second-in-command.
They want to remind voters of his time in congressional leadership and as governor and are planning a campaign heavy with town halls, house parties and visits to local diners and Pizza Ranch restaurants – more intimate settings that will help voters get to know him personally.
‘People have seen Mike Pence the vice president. I think what people are going to see is Mike Pence the person,’ said Todd Hudson, the speaker of the House in Indiana and a longtime Pence friend who has signed on to help with outreach to state legislators. ‘I’m super excited for people to get to know the Mike Pence that I know, who’s funny, who’s just a wonderful person… the more relaxed Mike Pence.’
Pictured: Mike Pence appears at a ‘Roast and Ride’ event over the weekend
At the event that drew a long list of 2024 candidates, Pence stood out as the only candidate to actually mount a Harley (pictured) and participate in the event’s annual motorcycle ride
Reed believes there is a strong desire in the party for a candidate like Pence who espouses Reagan-style conservatism, including traditional social values, hawkish foreign policy and small government economics.
‘We think this nomination fight is going to be an epic battle for the heart and soul of the conservative, traditional wing of the Republican Party. And Pence is going to campaign as a classic conservative. His credentials are unmatched,’ he said.
Unlike Trump and DeSantis, Pence has argued that cuts to Social Security and Medicare must be on the table and has blasted those who have questioned why the U.S. should continue to send aid to Ukraine to counter Russian aggression.
‘We are not going to try to out-Trump Pence. Everybody else is,’ Reed said. ‘Pence is the only candidate running not to be Trump’s VP.’
Who is Mike Pence, Republican 2024 presidential hopeful?
Former Vice President Mike Pence has formally announced his candidacy for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, setting him up for a battle with the man he once loyally stood by – former President Donald Trump.
Here are some facts about Pence’s life and career:
A SOCIAL CONSERVATIVE AND FORMER RADIO HOST
Pence, who turns 64 on Wednesday, was a Democrat in his youth. He became disillusioned with the party while in college and inspired by former President Ronald Reagan, switched to the Republican Party. He also became an evangelical Christian.
After losing two bids to become a U.S. congressman in 1988 and 1990, Pence worked as a conservative talk show host before running again for Congress in 2000, this time winning a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Pence served in the House until 2013, rising through the ranks to become a member of the chamber’s Republican leadership, with a reputation as a staunch conservative.
He ran for governor of Indiana in 2012, narrowly winning election, and assumed office in January 2013. While governor, Pence pursued a tax-cutting and socially conservative agenda, including measures to restrict abortions.
TRUMP’S VICE PRESIDENT
Pence dropped out of his gubernatorial re-election bid in 2016 to become Trump’s vice presidential running mate.
Trump’s choice of Pence in 2016 was widely seen as a move to solidify support among Christian conservatives.
Their relationship remained steady throughout Trump’s many scandals in office, with Pence demonstrating fierce loyalty during Trump’s four-year term. He repeatedly defended Trump or simply stayed silent.
RIFT OVER 2020 ELECTION RESULTS
Pence came under huge pressure from Trump to overturn his 2020 loss to Democrat Joe Biden when Congress certified the election results on Jan. 6, 2021. As vice president, Pence oversaw the certification in his ceremonial role as president of the Senate.
Pence refused to do Trump’s bidding, incurring the wrath of Trump and his supporters who stormed the Capitol that day, some threatening to kill Pence.
In March, Pence decried Trump’s role in the riot and the threat it posed.
‘His reckless words endangered my family and everyone at the Capitol that day, and I know history will hold Donald Trump accountable,’ Pence said.
Pence will focus much of his efforts in coming months on Iowa, which kicks off the Republican nominating contest next year.
Iowa has a significant number of evangelical voters among its Republican electorate. Pence hopes a strong showing there will give him momentum and propel him into contention.
Reporting by Reuters