Former Vice President Mike Pence visited Iowa last week, where he faced questions about his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and his relationship with former President Donald Trump. Pence, who is widely seen as a potential 2024 presidential contender, also sought to showcase his conservative credentials and appeal to the Republican base.
Pence defends his actions on Jan. 6
Pence was in charge of presiding over the joint session of Congress that certified the 2020 election results on Jan. 6, when a mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in an attempt to stop the process. Trump had repeatedly pressured Pence to reject some of the electoral votes won by Joe Biden, something that Pence did not have the authority to do.
At the Iowa State Fair, Pence was confronted by a man who accused him of committing treason by certifying the election. Pence responded by saying that he was following his constitutional duty and that he respected the man’s right to disagree.
“I appreciate you giving me a respectful listen,” Pence said. “But I want you to know that I’m proud of what we accomplished for America over the last four years. And I will always be proud of the role that I played on January 6th, standing in that chamber at my post, defending our Constitution and ensuring that we counted every legal vote.”
Pence also brought up Jan. 6 in a speech at the Des Moines Register Soapbox, where he denounced Trump’s “reckless” words that incited the violence.
“History will hold Donald Trump accountable for Jan. 6,” Pence said. “Make no mistake about it: What happened that day was a disgrace, and it mocks decency to portray it in any other way. President Trump was wrong. His reckless words endangered my family and everyone at the Capitol that day.”
Pence also praised the journalists who covered the riot, saying that they helped inform the American people of what happened.
“We were able to stay at our post in part because you stayed at your post,” he said of the reporters in the Capitol during the attack. “The American people know what happened that day because you never stopped reporting.”
Pence faces Trump’s attacks and low poll numbers
Pence’s comments on Jan. 6 did not sit well with Trump, who has continued to spread false claims about the election and blame Pence for not overturning it.
“I heard his statement, and I guess he decided that being nice isn’t working because he’s at 3% in the polls, so he figured he might as well not be nice any longer,” Trump told a small group of media aboard his plane on Monday.
Trump said Pence shared the “blame” on Jan. 6 for not rejecting some of the electoral votes won by Joe Biden.
“Had he sent them back to Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona, the states, I believe, No. 1, you would have had a different outcome. But I also believe you wouldn’t have had ‘Jan. 6’ as we call it,” Trump said.
Trump also said that he would welcome Pence as a witness in his trial in the 2020 election case, where he faces four criminal charges related to his attempts to overturn the election.
“Mike Pence will be one of our best witnesses at trial,” Trump’s lawyer John Lauro said on Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”
Pence has said that he has no plans to testify, but that he would comply with the law if subpoenaed.
“I have no plans to testify, but, look, we’ll always comply with the law,” Pence told CNN’s Dana Bash in an interview that aired Sunday on “State of the Union.”
Pence also faces low poll numbers among Republican voters, who largely remain loyal to Trump. A recent survey by Morning Consult/Politico found that only 9% of GOP voters would support Pence in a hypothetical 2024 primary, compared to 44% for Trump.
Pence touts his conservative record and vision
Despite the challenges he faces from Trump and his supporters, Pence has not given up on his presidential ambitions. He has been traveling across the country, meeting with donors, activists and voters, and delivering speeches on various topics.
In Iowa, Pence highlighted his conservative record as vice president and governor of Indiana, as well as his vision for the future of the Republican Party and the country.
He spoke about his pro-life stance, his support for religious freedom, his opposition to critical race theory and his advocacy for border security and law enforcement.
He also criticized President Biden’s policies on inflation, energy, foreign affairs and Afghanistan.
“Biden has been wrong on every major foreign policy decision for nearly half a century,” Pence said. “And now Biden’s weakness has emboldened our enemies.”
Pence also expressed optimism about the GOP’s chances in the upcoming midterm elections and beyond.
“I believe we’re on the verge of a great American comeback,” he said. “And I believe with all of my heart that the best days for the Republican Party and the best days for America are yet to come.”