Nearly two days after former Vice President Mike Pence filed paperwork for the presidential campaign, on Wednesday, he announced his final intention to run for the upcoming Presidential elections. The latest declaration set up a challenge to his former boss, Donald Trump, just two years after their time in the White House ended with an insurrection at the US Capitol and Pence fleeing for his life.
Trump is still leading the race
While Trump is currently leading the early fight for the nomination, with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis polling consistently in second, Pence supporters see a lane for a reliable conservative who espouses many of the previous administration’s policies but without the constant tumult. While he frequently lauds the accomplishments of the “Trump-Pence administration,” a Pence nomination in many ways would be a return to positions long associated with the Republican establishment but abandoned as Trump reshaped the party in his image. Pence has warned against the growing populist tide in the party, and advisers see him as the only traditional, Reagan-style conservative in the race.
A staunch opponent of abortion rights, Pence supports a national ban on the procedure and has campaigned against transgender-affirming policies in schools. He has argued that changes to Social Security and Medicare, like raising the age for qualification, should be on the table to keep the programs solvent — which both Trump and DeSantis have opposed — and criticized DeSantis for his escalating feud with Disney. He also has said the U.S. should offer more support to Ukraine against Russian aggression while admonishing “Putin apologists” in the party unwilling to stand up to the Russian leader.
Who is Mike Pence?
Pence, who describes himself as “a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order,” has spent months laying the groundwork for an expected run, holding events in early-voting states like Iowa, South Carolina and New Hampshire, visiting churches, delivering policy speeches and courting donors. Pence’s team sees Iowa and its evangelical Christian voters as critical to his potential path to victory. Advisers say he plans to campaign aggressively in the state, hitting every one of its 99 counties before its first-in-the-nation caucuses next year.
The campaign is expected to lean heavily on town halls and retail stops aimed at reintroducing Pence to voters who only know him from his time as Trump’s second-in-command. Pence served for more than a decade in Congress and as Indiana’s governor before he was tapped as Trump’s running mate in 2016. As vice president, Pence had been an exceeding loyal defender of Trump until the days leading up to Jan. 6, 2021, when Trump falsely tried to convince Pence and his supporters that Pence had the power to unilaterally overturn the results of the 2020 election.
(With inputs from agency)