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Reports published on Friday suggested that former Vice President Mike Pence is heavily weighing a 2024 presidential bid, even as it remains nearly certain in many Republican circles that former President Donald Trump, his 2016 running mate, will also run.
On Thursday, as the House committee investigating the January 2021 incident at the Capitol Building held new hearings that focused a great deal on Pence’s role that day in certifying the electoral results of the 2020 election, he was far from Washington, campaigning in Ohio on behalf of incumbent GOP Gov. Mike DeWine and a Republican congressman.
Those appearances are among “the latest step in a carefully managed re-emergence onto the national political scene as he appears to lay the groundwork for a 2024 presidential campaign,” The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.
“Ultimately, I believe that most Americans understand that we did our duty that day under the Constitution and the laws of this country,” Pence told the paper regarding the events of that day, commenting on how he rebuffed attempts by the then-president to not certify certain electoral votes from a handful of states Trump was contesting.
The WSJ adds:
It was the most visible break Mr. Pence displayed after four years of loyalty to Mr. Trump. Committee members said the president’s resulting actions helped trigger an attack that included calls for the vice president’s hanging.
Mr. Pence, nonetheless, indicated he isn’t interested in relitigating the 2020 election as Mr. Trump has since he lost, to the frustration of some GOP leaders.
“Everywhere I go across the country, I can tell you, the American people are hurting,” he said Thursday. “Inflation is at a 40-year high, $5-a-gallon gas and higher, the crisis at our border that I saw firsthand on Monday. A crime wave impacting our cities. It’s one of the reasons I’m so determined to be out supporting candidates for the House, the Senate and governors.”
As for Trump, Pence said, “The president and I had very different styles, we’re different men.
“But we were working shoulder-to-shoulder…and we delivered for the American people,” he added.
The Daily Mail notes further:
The interview does not quote Pence discussing the 2024 nomination battle – although a headline says he ‘plots’ a 2024 bid.
He has an economic speech planned in Chicago Monday, is ‘expected’ to form a new super PAC, has a book deal, and is ‘expected’ to keep traveling to early voting states Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. That checks several of the boxes of activities presidential candidates usually engage in, amid chatter that Trump might make his own announcement after the midterms.
The New York Times previously reported that the pressure on Pence continued up until the morning of of Jan. 6, when Trump reportedly told his vice president: ‘“You can be a patriot or you can be a p****.”
Questioned by ABC’s Jonathan Karl about the quote after he left office, Trump replied: “I wouldn’t dispute it.”
But despite Pence’s reportedly presidential posturing, Trump remains very popular among rank-and-file GOP voters, topping most every poll since he left office. And because of that, some Republican insiders are not at all sure Pence can pull off the nomination if Trump decides to run again, which he is expected to announce after the midterms, should the GOP pull manage to retake control of Congress.
“The Trump base in many states is very firm and very loyal,” Pennsylvania pollster Terry Madonna told the WSJ. “That’s Pence’s problem. He has to find a way to move some of those people over to him and campaign without alienating that base.”
Most recently, it was Trump vs. Pence in the Georgia GOP gubernatorial primary, with the former president backing ex-U.S. Sen. David Perdue in his bid to unseat Pence-backed incumbent GOP Gov. Brian Kemp, the latter of whom won easily and will now move on in a rematch against likely Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams.