NEW YORK (UKTN) — Former Vice President Mike Pence said Wednesday that voters are “looking for new leadership” following the disappointing midterm elections for Republicans, who are now openly debating whether his former boss, Donald Trump, will take a leadership role in the party.
In an interview with The UK Time News just hours after Trump announced another run at the White House, Pence declined to say whether he thinks the former president is fit to return to his old job. But he implicitly positioned himself as a potential alternative for Republicans seeking conservative leadership without the chaos of the Trump era.
“I think we’ll have better choices in 2024,” Pence said. “I have every confidence that Republican primary voters will choose wisely.” He said he and his family will come together over the holiday season “and we will prayerfully consider what our role might be in the days to come.”
Asked if he blamed Trump for this week’s Republican losses, he said: “Certainly the president’s continued efforts to relitigate the last election played a role, but … each individual candidate is responsible for his own campaign.”
Pence, while contemplating a presidential campaign of his own, has increased his notoriety by promoting his new memoir, “So Help Me God,” which was released on the same day Trump made official his long-touted bid for the White House. If Pence moves forward, he would be in direct competition with Trump, a particularly uncomfortable clash for the former vice president, who spent his four years in office defending Trump and refusing to publicly criticize him until after January 6, 2021.
That’s when a mob of Trump supporters — driven by Trump’s lie that Pence could somehow overturn the election results — stormed the Capitol as Pence presided over Democrat Joe Biden’s certification of victory. The vice president was taken to safety with his staff and family, with some in the crowd shouting, “Hang Mike Pence!”
Still, on Wednesday, Pence remained largely reluctant to criticize Trump outside of the uprising. That hesitation reflects the reality that the former president remains extremely popular with the GOP base that Pence would need to win to be competitive in primary games.
“It wasn’t exactly the style of presidency I would have fostered if I had been the first name on the ballot,” Pence said of his unlikely partnership with Trump. “But it was his presidency and I was there to support and help him. And until that fateful day in January 2021, I tried to do just that.”
Pence said he had not seen Trump’s full announcement speech on Tuesday, but suggested voters are looking for a new, less controversial direction.
“You know, the president has every right to run for re-election,” he said. But after traveling across the country campaigning with interim candidates, “I really feel that the American people are looking for new leadership who could unite our country around our highest ideals and reflect respect and civility.” that the American people show each other every day. day, while still advancing the policies we pursued during those years of service,” he said.
Trump’s campaign launch comes as Republicans grapple with the fallout from elections in which they failed to wrest control of the Senate and are on track to win only the narrowest majority in the House. Those results came despite voters’ deep concerns about inflation and the country’s course under Democrat Biden.
Trump supported a long list of candidates in competitive states, including Pennsylvania and Arizona, who subsequently lost their general election races. While Pence said he was happy that Republicans took the House, he acknowledged that the election “wasn’t quite the red wave we’d all hoped for.”
“My conclusion,” he said, “is that the candidates who were focused on the future, focused on the challenges facing the American people today, and solutions to those challenges fared reasonably well.” But those who still have doubts about the 2020 results — as Trump demanded — “have not fared very well.”
In his new book, Pence writes in detail about his experience on Jan. 6, and he elaborated on that Wednesday.
“I will never forget the simmering indignation I felt that day when I saw those images on the cell phones as we gathered in the loading bay below the Senate Chamber. I couldn’t help but think this, not here, not in America,’ he said.
In the interview, he recalled his response to Trump’s tweets “criticizing me directly at a time when a riot was raging in the corridors of the Capitol.”
“The president’s words were reckless and endangered my family and everyone in the Capitol,” he said. “The president had decided to be part of the problem. I was determined to be part of the solution.”
Asked what consequences Trump should have for his actions, however, Pence pointed out.
“That’s up to the American people,” he says. ‘Really. And look, I will always be proud of the track record of the Trump administration over four and a half years. President Trump was not just my president. He was my friend. And we worked closely together to advance the policies for which we were elected.
“It didn’t end well,” he admitted in an understatement. And that tragic day in January will always be a day of great sadness for me, a sadness about what had happened to our relationship, about the bad advice the president accepted from a group of lawyers who, as I write in my book, should never have been allowed on White House grounds, much less the Oval Office. ”
Pence and Trump have always been an odd couple—a pugnacious, crass New York celebrity and a determined Midwestern evangelical who once wrote an essay on the evils of negative campaigning and says as a rule he won’t dine alone with a woman who that’s not his wife. When asked why he spoke so rarely when Trump issued deeply personal insults to figures like the late Senator John McCain, Pence basically said he signed on to do so.
“As his vice president, I believed my role was to be loyal to the president,” he said. “And so every step of the way, as I did, I believed I was elected vice president to support the presidency that Donald Trump was elected to move forward.”
Indeed, Pence writes in the book that even after January 6, the two men “parted amicably as our service to the nation came to an end.”
“And in the weeks that followed, he called me from time to time to speak and check in,” Pence said in the interview. “But when he again criticized me and others for enforcing the Constitution that day, I just decided it was best to go our separate ways. And we have.”
When asked why he would part ways with Trump “amicably” given the president’s actions — including his decision not to call Pence to check on his safety while the riot was underway — Pence said he believed that the president had been genuinely sorry when they first met. time after the 6th.
“For the rest of about 90 minutes, we sat, we talked. I was very direct with the president. I made it clear to him that I believe I did my duty that day, and I felt genuine remorse on his part,” Pence recalled. “The president and I had forged not only a good working relationship, but a friendship that lasted four and a half years. We literally worked together every day. But at that time he was different. I encouraged him to bring the matter to prayer.”
As for his plans for the future, as everyone is asking if he plans to run, he and his family will gather over the holiday season “and we will prayerfully consider what our role might be in the days to come.”