Pence jumped into the race to challenge Trump for the nomination with a campaign speech in Des Moines, Iowa, home to the GOP first-in-the-nation caucuses and a crucial early nominating state. The campaign launch also comes on the same day he is set to participate in a town hall with CNN, one month after Trump held his own town hall with the network, and on the same day as his 64th birthday.
Pence released a video Wednesday morning announcing his campaign by saying he would defeat President Joe Biden and “the radical left” yet made no mention of Trump, his running mate in 2016 and 2020. However, during the Iowa appearance Pence did mention the former president by name, even as he seeks to lead the GOP in a different direction.
“As your vice president, I stood by President Donald Trump every single day when we made America great,” Pence said in prepared remarks. “Given my support for our record, it might be fair to ask why I am challenging my former running mate for the Republican nomination for president.”
Although known to GOP primary voters as Trump’s loyal 2016 and 2020 running mate, Pence will now need to distinguish himself from the former president after their public falling out following the 2020 presidential election and Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot which forced Pence to flee violent protesters.
Pence said in the aftermath of Jan. 6, Trump’s “reckless words endangered my family and everyone at the capitol.”
Since that harrowing moment, Pence has distanced himself from Trump and called for a return to traditional conservative values.
But his efforts have been met with mixed reactions. Trump is the dominant frontrunner in the 2024 race among GOP primary voters with Pence polling in the low single digits. At a National Rifle Association convention in his home state of Indiana, attendees booed Pence while expressing repeated adulation for Trump. Undeterred Pence chirped back: “I love you too.”
Pence, however, said he “will always be grateful for what President Trump did for this country” and that he has “often prayed for him in the years since.”
The former vice president is the latest lawmaker to run for president; former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced his campaign on Tuesday and Gov. Doug Burgum (R-ND) launched a campaign on the same day as Pence. Other GOP 2024 hopefuls include Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL), former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley among other lesser-known candidates.
Both Trump and Pence are set to speak again at the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s “Road to Majority” policy conference in the nation’s capital from June 22-24. They, along with DeSantis, Haley, and Scott, will seek to persuade conservative activists to back their candidacies.
Prior to joining the Trump campaign as Trump’s vice president, Pence served as governor of Indiana from 2013-2017 and before that was a former House member representing Indiana’s Sixth Congressional District.
Original Location: Mike Pence announces 2024 presidential bid, taking on former boss Trump
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