Former US Vice President Mike Pence on Saturday put the brakes on his presidential campaign for the upcoming elections in 2024 after struggling to gain traction. He announced the decision at the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas, reported CBS News.
"We always knew this would be an uphill battle, but I have no regrets. To the American people, I say this is not my time, but it's still your time. I urge you to hold fast to what matters most, faith, family, and the constitution of the United States of America," he said at the event.
Pence reportedly lagged behind other Republican contenders in fundraising and poll numbers and is the most high-profile candidate to pull out of the presidential race. He was ex-President Donald Trump's running mate, but broke ranks after the latter's loss in 2020 elections and the Capitol riots on January 6, 2021.
"I came here to say it's become clear to me: this was not my time. So after much prayer and deliberation, I have decided to suspend my campaign for president, effective today," Pence said in Las Vegas.
An uphill battle
Pence's presidential campaign faced a stiff challenge as he attempted to contrast himself from his former boss without alienating a massive number of Trump voters. Trump's indictment also forced him to be more vocal against the former US President.
On the campaign trail, Pence had to frequently defend his decision to oppose Trump and his alleged attempts to overturn the 2020 election. Pence repeatedly said that he fulfilled his constitutional responsibilities during the joint session of Congress on January 6, 2021, amid the attack on the US Capitol, a claim that many Republican voters disagreed with.
"As I’ve said many times, on that fateful day, President Trump’s words were reckless. They endangered my family and everyone at the Capitol. But 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: I chose the constitution and I always will," Pence said in June.
In the time between June and September, Pence managed to raise $3.3 million, but his available cash on hand was limited to $1.2 million, leaving him grappling with a significant debt of approximately $620,000. The lack of fundraising showed the public's disinterest.
Pence's split with Trump
Pence apparently refused to overturn the election results of the 2020 elections during the joint session of Congress in 2021, despite orders from Trump. Rioters on that day were heard chanting "hang Mike Pence" and Pence was moved to a secure location.
Trump long blamed Pence for refusing to back his plans to overturn the election results, causing Pence to have to publicly rebuke Trump — and by extension, many of his followers.
In Trump's indictment on election interference, the document alleges repeated attempts by Trump "to enlist the Vice President to use his ceremonial role at the certification to fraudulently alter the election results," and links these efforts to the violence at the Capitol when Pence refused to oblige.
After he pulled out of the presidential race, many candidates sent out messages of support to the former Vice President, with the exception of Trump and Indian-origin aspirant Vivek Ramaswamy.