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Former Vice President Mike Pence is expected to jump into the increasingly larger field of 2024 Republican presidential contenders on Wednesday, pitting him against his old boss and running mate, former President Donald Trump.
But if he wants to beat Trump, who is the current party frontrunner, for the nomination, he’s got a tough road ahead of him.
“Pence, who turns 64 on June 7, has continued to embrace many of Trump’s policies while portraying himself as an even-keeled and consensus-oriented alternative. He has also appealed more directly to the evangelical Christian community,” Salem Radio Network (SRN) News reported Wednesday, adding that former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, himself a 2016 presidential contender, was set to enter the race, too.
Other reports say Christie will announce next week, likely on Tuesday. “North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum is also planning to enter race on the same day as Pence, according to a person familiar with Burgum’s plans,” SRN News noted further.
Without question, Trump is the party’s leading candidate thus far, polling well above 50 percent in most surveys, with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who finally declared his candidacy last week, a distant second thus far. Pence is currently polling at around 4 percent, according to the RealClearPolitics average of surveys. Trump, meanwhile, is averaging about 53 percent, according to RCP.
With that in mind, “the growing Republican field concerns many Trump opponents inside the Republican Party. They fear a large number of challengers will splinter the anti-Trump vote and hand the party’s nomination to the former president, who can rely on at least 30% of the Republican base to back him,” SRN News noted, adding:
A staunch social conservative who stood by Trump throughout his time in his office, Pence has increasingly distanced himself from the former Republican president since his election defeat, saying Trump’s encouragement of the rioters who attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, put him and his family in danger.
Pence, who turns 64 on June 7, has continued to embrace many of Trump’s policies, while portraying himself as an even-keeled and consensus-oriented alternative. He has also appealed more directly to the evangelical Christian community.
The success of his campaign will hinge on whether he can attract enough backers of Trump’s policies who are turned off by the former president’s rhetoric and behavior to build a viable coalition.
NBC News and CNN reported that Pence is expected to make a formal announcement that he’s in on June 7, the same day he is slated to appear at a CNN-sponsored event in Des Moines, Iowa billed as a “Presidential Town Hall.” Trump did a CNN town hall in early May.
The Georgia Republican Party had initially planned for the former vice president to address their event on June 9. However, the party recently informed its supporters that Pence “has been forced to re-schedule because of a televised national town hall at which he will be making an announcement regarding his future plans” in a memo that was first reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“We’re continuing to talk to people around the country and getting a lot of encouragement around the country,” Pence said in a recent appearance on Fox Business Network with Larry Kudlow, according to The Hill.
Significantly, Trump is also polling better than President Joe Biden. And, according to a Monmouth poll released on Tuesday, most Republican voters believe Trump has the best chance of defeating Biden next year.
The poll asked respondents, “Regardless of whether you currently support Donald Trump, which of the following statements comes closest to your view about which Republican has the best chance to win in 2024.”
Overall, 63 percent said they believe Trump has the best chance to beat Biden, compared to around 32 percent for another Republican candidate.