Former Vice President Mike Pence is becoming increasingly brazen in his willingness to counter former President Donald Trump.
The two will hold dueling rallies in Arizona on Friday as they stump for rival candidates who offer dramatically different visions of the Republican Party in a critical battleground state. Days later, they will once again cross paths as they deliver major speeches on the same day in Washington, D.C.
The encounters mark a more confrontational phase in the fraught relationship between the former running mates and once close confidantes who could soon find themselves competing against one another in the 2024 GOP presidential primary if they both ultimately choose to run.
“I think this is a continuation of the larger message that Pence is trying to embody here, which is the Republican Party should look to the future,” said Scott Jennings, a longtime party strategist. “This is going to be the existential question for the Republican Party: Are we going to listen to a slightly different view than Donald Trump’s? Right now, the standard-bearer for this is Mike Pence.”
That description marks a striking turnaround for Pence, who spent his four years in the White House as Trump’s most loyal defender. But Trump turned on his vice president when Pence refused to go along with his unconstitutional efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election, putting Pence in the crosshairs of a violent mob on Jan. 6.
Now Pence, who has repeatedly defended his actions that day, is taking a more active effort to shape the future of the party. This week, Pence endorsed Karrin Taylor Robson in Arizona’s Republican gubernatorial primary, pitting himself against Trump, who has endorsed Kari Lake, a former newscaster who has embraced Trump’s election lies.
“As Arizona Democrats pursue the reckless Biden-Harris agenda, Karrin Taylor Robson is the only candidate for Governor that will keep Arizona’s border secure and streets safe, empower parents and create great schools, and promote conservative values,” Pence said in a statement announcing his decision.
Pence backed Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a top Trump target who easily defeated the former president’s hand-picked challenger this spring. But Pence’s Arizona move showed a willingness to weigh in on a closer and open race in alliance with the state’s outgoing GOP governor, Doug Ducey, who also rebuffed Trump’s efforts to overturn the election.
Pence is planning to campaign with Robson in Phoenix and southern Arizona Friday — the same day that Trump is set to headline a rally for Lake that was rescheduled after the death of his first wife, Ivana Trump.
A Trump spokesperson did not respond to requests for comment on the events.
Trump and Pence will again cross paths next week as the former president returns to the nation’s capital for the first time since leaving the White House. Pence will address the conservative Heritage Foundation on Monday evening and will speak at the Young America’s Foundation’s annual National Conservative Student Conference on Tuesday morning. That afternoon, Trump will headline a two-day summit organized by the America First Policy Institute.
Pence will use his speech before the Heritage Foundation to highlight the policy agenda he released earlier and talk about the future of the party, according to aides. The remarks are expected to offer an implicit contrast with Trump, who has spent much of his energy since leaving office on relitigating the 2020 election.
Pence has urged Republicans to move on, even as he continues to tout the accomplishments of what he often describes as the Trump-Pence administration.
Pence’s efforts come as Trump is preparing to launch a third campaign for the White House as soon as this summer while he faces a flurry of investigations into his efforts to cling to power. That includes the House Jan. 6 committee, which on Thursday will hold another prime-time hearing, this time spotlighting Trump’s refusal to call off the angry mob that stormed the Capitol and sent Pence and other lawmakers into hiding.
While polls show Trump remains the overwhelming favorite in a hypothetical GOP primary, Marc Short, Pence’s former chief of staff and a top adviser, argued that even if Trump does announce a run, that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll be on the ballot two years from now.
“As the committee winds down, I’m sure he’s looking for a reset that brings attention back on him. And an announcement does not necessarily mean a commitment at the end of that process to continue forward,” said Short. “I don’t think there’s any doubt that the president enjoys being the center of attention. And the announcement puts even additional media focus on him.”
Trump, meanwhile, has continued to slam Pence for refusing to go along with his scheme to remain in power. At a gathering of Evangelical Christians in Nashville, Tennessee, last month, Trump again said Pence “did not have the courage to act,” drawing applause.
When it comes to a potential race, Trump does not see Pence as a threat, according to allies, who are much more consumed with Ron DeSantis. The Florida governor is increasingly seen by conservatives as a natural and younger successor to Trump’s MAGA movement who can channel the same anger, but with less baggage.
Jennings, meanwhile, praised Pence for being willing to stand up to Trump when so many others in the party still refuse to cross him.
“What Mike Pence is doing is extremely valuable. And whether he is a viable candidate for president. I don’t know. But he’s certainly earned the right to make the case for a post-Trump future,” said Jennings.
“He may end up being John the Baptist to someone else,” he added. “Headless but remembered well.”
Republished with permission of The Associated Press.
July 20, 2022 at 3:25 pm
Trump is politically impotent and radioactive waste. If he runs again…he will loose again. Most GOP members secretly loath the man. No point in running such nonsense articles about Trump. He’s toast..
July 20, 2022 at 7:02 pm
According to polls, Trump would beat the senile man in the White House if the election were today.
Biden’s approval rating is down to 30%. If the economy does go into recession by next year, he’s going to be the next Jimmy Carter. And he’ll be wiped out no matter who the GOP nominates.
By 2024, no one will even care about Jan 6th. People are going to vote for their wallets and their jobs…something Democrats are doing a fantastic job destroying.
July 20, 2022 at 7:38 pm
1) Trump is politically dead I assure you he’s not coming back
2) The rich will vote with their wallets… people who aren’t rich will get screwed by every Republican administration. During Trump, wages in NE Florida fell to abominable levels… the equivalent of $6 an hour in 1997 inflation adjusted real purchasing power. Even fast food workers were making $7 – 7.50 back in 1997. $8 an hour back then was $15 an hour today. The economy was fine when this was going on but workers were too stupid to realize they were getting fked. Republicans only benefit the rich and money does not trickle down. They just buy all the assets and turn them into money vaccumes. Your great grandchildren will spit no matter how much far right propaganda they’ve consumed. Things will get that bad. Have fun!
July 20, 2022 at 6:18 pm
Neither Trump or Pence will ever be President
July 20, 2022 at 8:25 pm
Nope. His supporters don’t realize what a disaster his presidency was.. wreaked havoc on the nation socially as well as economically. The economic portion of is was an overheating economy and no steps to curve inevitable inflation..also abominable grifting by the rich off the backs of workers…and accelerated hoarding of money by the rich due to the Trump tax cuts. All the propaganda on both sides of the political spectrum only served to obscure the grifting. When the government and the people are fighting…that capitalists are making a killing off of it all. This barely benefits ordinary people because of the sheer amount of wealth hording they do. Tax cuts only increase the horde.
July 21, 2022 at 7:48 am
Never underestimate the stupidity of the voting public. The rubes donated ~$250MM to trump’s stop the steal super pac which doesn’t even exist. Hopefully he’ll be charged with wire fraud but people are really that stupid. Pence is such a pathetic sycophant that even thinking of him running is pretty sad but again, you never know these days.
July 21, 2022 at 10:19 am
Well people can vote and donate all they want to but if he runs again then he will loose again. No amount of money or stupidity can counter the forces arrayed against Trump. The GOP secretly loathes the man, other GOP candidates are more attractive to the hogs, the Dems want him dead, he’s in hot water legally, and too many would come out and vote against him. He’s toast… relegated to carnival barking and side shows forever.
July 21, 2022 at 1:55 am
i will vote for Mike Pence.
hopefully he will find and select a
strong, vice president canidate to
July 23, 2022 at 7:20 pm
This view is a description that you have no free will in felony’s if you don’t do you get pinned to the graveyard
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