In another speech outlining the future of the Republican Party and conservative values, former Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday resisted an opportunity to combat voter fraud conspiracy theories espoused by his former boss, opting instead to focus on what he sees as their sharing. visions for the future of the GOP.
“I don’t know if our movement is that divided,” he said, responding to a question from a student at the Young America’s Foundation National Student Conservative Conference in Washington, DC.
The Gettysburg College student in Pennsylvania wanted to know if the rift between Pence and former President Donald Trump over the future of the conservative movement extends to the rest of the Republican Party and its supporters and what could be done about it .
“I don’t know if the president and I differ on issues, but we may differ on direction,” Pence said, continuing to walk a tightrope between drawing a clear line between himself and the former president without him. outright criticize.
“I truly believe that elections are about the future and it’s absolutely critical at a time when so many American families are hurting and so many families are struggling that we don’t give in to the temptation to look back,” Pence continued. “I think now is the time for us to put forward a bold, positive agenda to bring America back and I will continue to carry that message across the country.”
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In a thirty-minute speech that eschewed Trump altogether, Pence touched on all the usual GOP talking points — anti-abortion laws, critical race theory, school choice, Second Amendment protection, and cancel culture. campus, among others – as he pointed out. its so-called “America First” program. He was due to deliver the speech at the Heritage Foundation on Monday, but pulled out of the event at the last minute when his flight was canceled due to bad weather.
Notably, Pence’s comments — and his willingness to stand up to Trump’s attack — come as the House Jan. 6 committee piles up damning evidence against the former president and his entourage over efforts to decertify or cancel the 2020 presidential election. It included a startling video of Pence being quickly driven away from the Capitol that day as rioters spurred on by Trump closed in.
For now, Pence, who fills his schedule with speaking engagements and looks set to announce his candidacy for the 2024 presidential election, is biting his tongue.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the record of the Trump-Pence administration,” Pence said, adding that he “will always be grateful for the opportunity to serve as vice president.”
Trump, meanwhile, has been much less hesitant to slam Pence, just last month calling him a “human treadmill” for not backing efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.
“Mike Pence had a chance to be awesome. He had a chance to be downright historic,” Trump said during a speech at a Faith and Freedom event in Nashville, Tennessee. did not have the courage to act.
The two headlined events in Arizona over the weekend, where Trump spoke at a rally in support of Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake and US Senate candidate Blake Masters, while Pence campaigned at two events alongside the other GOP gubernatorial candidate, Karrin Taylor Robson, an attorney who has called for the 2020 election to pass.
At the rally, Trump called the panel investigating the Jan. 6 riot a “hoax” and denied testimony shared at the latest hearing, which focused on his actions and inactions as a violent mob breached the Capitol as Congress attempted to certify Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory — a process that involved Pence escaping rioters, some of whom had erected a makeshift noose and chanted “hang Mike Pence.”
Pence is among a host of Republicans seeking to set the stage for a 2024 race, while avoiding any direct mention or comparison to Trump. This includes former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Only DeSantis has polled anything close to Trump’s numbers in voter polls on a possible 2024 race. DeSantis has also amassed a formidable campaign war chest of more than $100 million while maintaining that he stands focuses solely on his re-election race in the Sunshine State.
Trump is also scheduled to speak in Washington on Tuesday at the America First Policy Institute, where he will deliver the closing remarks at the group’s annual policy summit.