The administration's response to the outbreak of coronavirus in the United States was praised by the former vice president. After a mob attacked the U.S. Capitol and threatened his life, Pence refused to invoke the 25th Amendment in order to remove Trump from office.
After years of being Trump's sidekick, Pence has begun to distance himself from Trump and is taking more open steps towards a White House bid.
Pence called Trump out last month. He said his former boss was "wrong" to insist that Trump had the power to unilaterally reverse the results of the 2020 elections -- something vice presidents don't have. Pence gave another speech in front of top Republican donors. He urged the GOP not to dwell on Trump's 2020 grievances. After Trump had praised Putin's maneuverings as "genius", he declared that "there is no place in this party for apologists for Vladimir Putin."
These moves demonstrate how Pence, an ex-congressman and Indiana governor, works to create a new political identity that is independent from his former boss. This strategy is fraught with risk as it could lead to Trump's deception about the 2020 election. If Pence can navigate this moment successfully, it could be a model for Republicans to profit from their work alongside Trump without being tied in any way to his worst behavior, which has repeatedly hurt the party's ability to reach suburban voters, who often decide elections.
Marc Short, the White House's chief of staff, stated that Pence's recent actions were "certain opportunities that are afforded and certain constraints." You sort of take on a new identity during those four years, because your job it to support the president and his work.
Pence's aides stress that he has many deeply held views and principles. He was a long-time conservative radio and political broadcaster before joining Trump's team in 2016. They expect him to often invoke these views, including his strong opposition to abortion rights as he campaigns to support Republicans in the coming year's midterms.
They also noted that Pence is a long-standing critic of Putin and they expect him to continue speaking out about Ukraine. Pence made an unannounced trip to Poland's Ukrainian border shortly after the invasion. He helped to deliver aid to those fleeing the war, and it seemed that Pence was wearing a presidential aura.
The Rev. Franklin Graham, an evangelist and president at Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian relief organization, stated that Pence's evolution was natural.
"People are now seeing the real Mike Pence. Graham stated that vice presidents must follow the president's lead and be in sync with all his statements. People are now seeing who he really is, what he stands for, and what his opinions are. It's not repeating the president's words. It is stating what he believes. ... He is speaking for himself and not for President Trump.
Pence spent the last few months touring the country, giving policy speeches, raising money to support midterm candidates, and visiting early-voting state while simultaneously working on two books. He plans to return to Iowa in the next few months to host the party's first presidential nominating contests. He will also be making two trips to South Carolina, an early-voting state, during the course of the year.
His political group, Advancing American Freedom announced a $10 million ad-campaign targeting congressional Democrats, urging them to support American energy production expansion in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He is also preparing to release the "Freedom Agenda", a new policy platform that will help candidates articulate to voters what Republicans are for and against.
Pence has also spent time with high-ranking donors. Pence traveled to Israel before his visit to Ukraine. He had dinner with Benjamin Netanyahu, an ex-prime minister and opposition leader, who Trump has reportedly criticised. Pence also met Miriam Adelson (billionaire donor), marking their second meeting in recent months.
These efforts make it clear what lane Pence can take if he decides to run in the 2024 GOP primary contest, which could see Trump as a candidate. Pence may be able to combine the successes of the Trump-Pence administration with the traditional conservative movement, even though there is still a section of the party that won't forgive him for his Jan. 6 constitutional role.
Early polls indicate that Trump is still the favorite of GOP voters, even if he decides to run again. Florida Governor will be the next Republican candidate. Ron DeSantis appears to be the early favourite.
Others are making similar moves. For example, Mike Pompeo was Trump's CIA director, secretary of state and traveled to Taiwan recently. He met with Taiwanese President TsaiIng-wen. Meanwhile, Sen. Tom Cotton, Arkansas, gave a highly public speech at Reagan Library praising Trump's record, but also criticizing his signing of bipartisan criminal justice reform legislation.
Former governor of New Jersey Chris Christie spoke Monday at Saint Anselm College’s New Hampshire Institute of Politics. This is a frequent stop for presidential hopefuls. He continued his criticism of Trump by slamming those that have spoken admiringly of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and calling Trump "dead wrong about this election."
"It's over, everybody. Do you know why I know this? Joe Biden is sleeping in Donald Trump's bed," Christie said. "And we as a party need to move forward. We cannot look backwards. We cannot be a party that is vindictive and wags vendettas. We can't be a party that settles scores for me .'''. We must be a party that creates opportunity and inspires us.
Pence has so far been coy about what his future plans are. Fox Business asked Pence if he would run for president. Pence replied that he is currently focusing on 2022.
He continued, "I'm confident that the Republican Party will nominate the next president of America in 2023," he said. "And at just the right moment, my family will reflect on how they might participate in that process."
Trump is not responding to Pence's attacks at the moment, which is unusual for someone who can respond to even the smallest of slights. Trump's spokesperson did not answer questions. However, some speculate that Trump doesn't want Pence to be antagonized before his book is published and he embarks on a publicity tour.
Trump made it clear that he is not pacifist.
Trump said that Mike and I had a great friendship, except for the very important fact that occurred at the end," he told the Washington Examiner last week in an interview. "I haven’t spoken with him in a while."
He also dismissed the possibility of another Trump-Pence nomination.
Trump said, "I don’t think the people will accept it," and he has also thought about other vice presidential candidates.