Former Vice President of the United States Mike Pence is expected to officially announce his presidential campaign in early June, pitting him against his former boss, former President Donald Trump.
On Wednesday, US media including the Associated Press and Reuters reported that Pence would launch his campaign for the White House on June 7 in Iowa, citing sources familiar with his plans.
While Pence promoted his work in the Trump administration, he had a strained relationship with Trump himself. Pence wrote in So God Help Me: “We had a close working relationship for four years. It didn’t end well.”
Pence blasted Trump over his speech on January 6, 2021, when a mob of Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol in an effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election.
A congressional committee investigating the riots said it heard testimony that Trump suspended his endorsement when he called on members of the mob to kill Pence for refusing to endorse a plan to deny an Electoral College vote.
Since then, Pence has denounced Trump’s speech as “reckless” and said that “history will judge” the former president.
Crowded main field
Pence’s announced plans will add another name to the growing list of candidates challenging Trump, the current frontrunner, for the Republican nomination in the 2024 election.
And the party’s nominee will run in the general election against the Democratic nominee, most likely President Joe Biden.
Among those vying for the Republican nomination is Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is widely seen as Trump’s most dangerous rival. He announced his campaign in a stunning Twitter event last week.
Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie is also expected to announce his presidential campaign next week, according to sources quoted in US media. Like Pence, Christie previously had close ties to Trump — as an adviser to his 2016 campaign — before becoming a critic of the former president.
Other candidates include US Senator Tim Scott, former Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, and former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, who also served as ambassador to the United Nations under Trump.
However, polls show that Trump maintains a significant advantage over his Republican rivals. In a poll of Republican candidates, RealClearPolitics found that Pence had only about 4% support among GOP voters, compared to 53% for Trump.
Christie’s numbers were around one percent or less.
An evangelical Christian and social conservative, Pence served in the United States House of Representatives from 2001 to 2013 and was the governor of Indiana from 2013 to 2017.
He has sought to portray himself as a more moderate and conservative figure than Trump, who remains embroiled in a series of scandals and court cases. Pence has signaled support for a nationwide abortion ban, but he’s also cautioned against far-right opposition to support Ukraine, which is at odds with Russia after the latter’s full-scale invasion in 2022.
It remains to be seen whether Pence’s message will resonate with Republican primary voters, some of whom are angry at Pence for refusing to act on Trump’s claims that the “rigged election” cost him victory in the 2020 presidential race.
While speaking at the National Rifle Association (NRA) convention in April, Pence took the stage to boos from the audience.