2024 Watch: Former Vice President Mike Pence’s Jan. 6 conundrum
Former Vice President Mike Pence says he knows he did "the right thing" on Jan. 6 in certifying the 2020 election and ignoring the requests from then-President Donald Trump to overturn the Electoral College results.
"I know in my heart of hearts that on that day, we did our duty, under the Constitution," Pence said in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network that was released a few days ago. "I don't know if President Trump and I will ever see eye to eye on that day. Or that many of our most ardent supporters will agree with my decision that day. But I know I did the right thing."
If Pence’s comments sound familiar, they are.
The former vice president, headlining a Republican county fundraising gala in New Hampshire six months ago, made headlines when emphasizing that he did his "duty under the Constitution and the laws of the United States."
And he acknowledged during that early June speech how his once solid relationship with Trump – he was the former president’s loyal right-hand man for four years - had frayed because of the events on Jan 6, telling the audience that "I don’t know if we’ll ever see eye to eye about that day."
Pence has been in a precarious position among many in the GOP base since the storming of the Capitol by right wing extremists aiming to disrupt congressional certification of now President Biden’s election victory over Trump.
Pence was at the Capitol at the time it was attacked, overseeing the joint session of Congress. By following his constitutional duties instead of following Trump’s wishes and overturn the results, Pence has endured the wrath of the former president and plenty of Trump’s most devout loyalists and supporters.
As the former vice president crisscrosses the country, helping fellow Republicans running in the 2022 midterm election, he repeatedly takes aim at President Biden and his agenda, and highlights the achievements of the Trump-Pence administration.
And he continues to spotlight his social conservative credentials. Last week, on the eve of the Supreme Court hearing of a case that could potentially result in the overturning of the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling which established a constitutional right to abortion, Pence cheered the decision’s possible demise.
"As we stand here today, we may well be on the verge of an era when the Supreme Court sends Roe v. Wade to the ash heap of history where it belongs," Pence said at a National Press Club event hosted by anti-abortion group the Susan B. Anthony List.
Pence has also spotlighted his belief that "there were irregularities" in the 2020 presidential election.
But his acknowledgement that he did his "duty" in upholding the election results guarantees he’s lost the support of a portion of the MAGA world should he launch a 2024 presidential bid.
Pence returning to New Hampshire
The former vice president’s travel itinerary continues to point to a potential White House run.
Pence on Wednesday makes his second stop this year in New Hampshire, the state that for a century’s held the first primary in the presidential nominating calendar. During the visit, which was first reported by Fox News last month, Pence will keynote a fundraising event in Manchester for the New Hampshire Senate Republicans. And he’ll also headline a Heritage Action "Save Our Paychecks" event which targets Biden's domestic agenda, which the group says is "hurting workers and families across the country."
The former vice president joined the Heritage Foundation, one of the oldest and most influential think tanks in the conservative movement, as a distinguished visiting fellow earlier this year. Heritage Action is the organization's political wing.
Pence last month made his second visit this year to Iowa, the state whose caucuses for half a century have kicked off the presidential nominating calendar. Pence also stopped this spring in South Carolina, which votes third in the GOP primary and caucus calendar, and last month in Nevada, which holds the fourth contest.
The trips to the early voting presidential primary and caucus states will fuel further speculation that Pence is gearing up towards a 2024 GOP White House run.
Trump has repeatedly flirted all year with making another White House run. But the possibility of another bid by Trump, who remains extremely popular with many Republican voters and continues to hold great sway over GOP politicians, does not appear to be deterring Pence from potentially launching a campaign of his own.
While the former vice president remains mum in public about his political plans, he vowed during a speech last month at the Republican Jewish Coalition' annual leadership meeting that "we’re going to win back this country in 2024."
Cotton’s jam-packed swing through New Hampshire
The former vice president isn’t the only potential 2024 contender to make repeated stops in the early voting primary and caucus states. Among the others is GOP Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas.
Cotton on Friday paid his second trip this year to New Hampshire. The senator’s also stopped twice this year in Iowa, and once in Nevada.
Cotton kicked off his jam-packed day in New Hampshire by sitting down for an interview with Fox News, which was followed minutes later by a meeting with the Saint Anselm College Young Republicans. The senator then headlined a law enforcement roundtable in Goffstown, followed by a small business forum in Bedford, and a visit to the Hitchiner Manufacturing Company in Milford. Cotton also paid a visit to longtime New Hampshire GOP activist and donor Augusta Petrone, and capped his New Hampshire itinerary by keynoting a Cheshire County Republican fundraising event in Keene.
Cotton, as he’s done in the past, demurred on such talk, telling Fox News that "I’m not making any decision right now about the future. The election that’s looking at us right in our windshield is the 2022 election and it’s still almost a year away."
But Chris Ager, who as Republican National Committee member from New Hampshire stays neutral in GOP primaries, said he could see Cotton resonating with Granite State Republicans should he decide run for the White House in the 2024 cycle. "Sen. Cotton has been at the forefront of articulating the Republican message nationwide," he said.
State Rep. Fred Doucette, who co-chaired Trump’s 2016 and 2020 presidential campaigns in New Hampshire, would likely back the former president again if he runs again in 2024. But asked what he thought of Cotton’s chances if Trump doesn’t launch another presidential bid, Doucette said the senator "articulates the message of the Republican Party and more importantly the America First agenda."
"Sen. Cotton gets it and he gets us here in New Hampshire. We’ll take a hard look at all of them," Doucette noted.
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