Former Vice President Mike Pence launched his 2024 presidential campaign in Ankeny Wednesday, June 7. (Photo by Robin Opsahl/Iowa Capital Dispatch)
Former Vice President Mike Pence announced his candidacy for president to a crowd at Des Moines Area Community College in Ankeny, focusing on the differences between him and former President Donald Trump, who is also running again in 2024.
While Pence praised the conservative successes he and Trump achieved in office, he said he is challenging the former president because of their “different visions” for the country’s future, and his promise to uphold the Constitution.
During the Capitol insurrection Jan. 6, 2021, Trump “demanded I choose between him and the Constitution,” Pence told the crowd.
“Now voters will be faced with the same,” Pence said. “I chose the Constitution.”
Pence said he stands by his decision to ensure the “peaceful transfer of power.” He said his candidacy is not just to stop Democrats from “trampling” over the Constitution, but to restore the Republican Party to the party that defends the U.S. Constitution.
“The American people must know the leaders in the Republican Party will keep our oaths to support and defend the Constitution, even when it’s not in our political interest,” Pence said. “I believe that anyone who puts themselves over the Constitution should never be president of the United States. And anyone who asks someone else to put them over the Constitution should never be president of the United States again.”
Pence is entering a crowded field. In addition to Trump, the former vice president will face at least nine other Republicans including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, U.S. Sen. Tim Scott and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley. Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum also entered the race Wednesday.
The Indiana Republican criticized other Republicans for “retreating” on their anti-abortion positions, called for supporting Ukraine against the Russian invasion and said entitlement programs like Social Security need urgent reform.
While voters at Pence’s kick-off event were supportive of the former vice president’s campaign, he may face difficulty gaining ground with people who still support Trump. Jayne Hawkes, a Des Moines resident, said at a DeSantis campaign event said she’s looking for a “Christian conservative” to support, but said she was not sold on Pence.
“He has to be more bold and outspoken on some things,” Hawkes said. “That’s what I need from him.”
Other critics say Pence may fail to gain traction because he does not have the personality and presence of GOP candidates like Trump. But Indiana House Speaker Todd Huston, when introducing Pence, said he looked forward to Iowa voters getting to know Pence. Huston said he read that someone called the former Vice President “mayonnaise on toast.”
“Let me just suggest this: I think you’re gonna get to know the Mike Pence that we know,” Huston said. “… And there’s a lot of Iowa bacon and maybe even some Tabasco sauce on that toast too.”
Iowa Democratic Party chair Rita Hart said Pence will push for banning abortion, cutting Social Security and undermining “our most basic freedoms,” the same as other 2024 candidates.
“Mike Pence has long championed one of the most extreme, anti-middle-class agendas in Congress and Indiana,” Hart said in a statement Wednesday. “Now, after serving as Donald Trump’s wingman in Washington, he’s looking to take the failed Trump-Pence policies that caused average farm income to fall to near 15-year lows and weakened our middle class even further.”
This story was published earlier by the Iowa Capital Dispatch, an affiliate of the nonprofit States Newsroom network, which includes the Florida Phoenix.
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