United States

Ex-US vice president Mike Pence withdraws from 2024 presidential race

Reuters

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Ex-US vice president Mike Pence withdraws from 2024 presidential race

MIKE PENCE. Former US Vice President Mike Pence speaks at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, US, October 19, 2022.

Leah Millis/REUTERS

Pence gambled that Republican primary voters would reward him for following the US Constitution rather than Trump's instructions to overturn the 2020 election results. But Trump's base of supporters never forgave Pence.

LAS VEGAS, USA – Former US Vice President Mike Pence ended his cash-strapped presidential campaign on Saturday, October 28, after struggling for months to convince Republican voters he was the best alternative to the man he once served with unswerving loyalty, Donald Trump.

Pence’s surprise announcement at the Republican Jewish Coalition donor conference in Las Vegas made him the first big-name candidate to drop out. Trump is the runaway frontrunner in the race.

“Traveling over the country over the past six months, I came here to say it’s become clear to me: this is not my time. So after much prayer and deliberation, I have decided to suspend my campaign for president effective today,” Pence told the audience to gasps and, later, prolonged claps and cheers of support.

Pence stopped short of endorsing anyone in his speech, but seemed to swipe at his former boss.

“I urge all my fellow Republicans here, give our country a Republican standard bearer that will, as Lincoln said, appeal to the better angels of our nature,” Pence said, adding it should also be someone who leads the country with “civility.”

A source close to Pence laughed when asked whether he would endorse Trump.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Trump did not mention Pence in their speeches, which came after Pence’s announcement. Haley praised Pence as a fighter for America and Israel. DeSantis later posted on social media platform X that Pence was a “principled man of faith.”

More candidates might soon follow Pence in dropping out, consolidating the wide field of contenders. With more than a half dozen candidates, donors seeking alternatives to Trump have been reticent to open their pocketbooks.

Trump’s lead is so large it may not matter, however, and contenders also might decide to stay in for longer. No clear-cut alternative has emerged since the DeSantis campaign has languished after a disappointing start.

Pence’s doomed campaign

Pence, 64, publicly broke with Trump, lambasting the former president for his role in the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the US Capitol. Pence gambled that Republican primary voters would reward him for following the US Constitution rather than Trump’s instructions to overturn the 2020 election results when as vice president, he held the ceremonial role of president of the Senate.

But Trump’s base of supporters never forgave Pence for overseeing the certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s election.

Ex-US vice president Mike Pence withdraws from 2024 presidential race

Trump has built one of the biggest primary leads in US electoral history, according to opinion polls. They show most Republican voters have embraced, or do not care about, Trump’s lie that the 2020 election was stolen from him and his efforts to overturn the result.

Pence announced his White House bid in June but has failed to attract enough primary voters and donors to sustain a candidacy that has languished in the low single digits in polls.

A stolid campaigner short on charisma, Pence was low on cash by October. He failed to catch fire in the first Republican nominating state of Iowa despite spending time and resources there.

Pence’s third quarter fundraising totals on October 15 showed his campaign was $620,000 in debt, with only $1.2 million cash on hand. That was far less than several better-performing Republican rivals and insufficient for a White House race.

In several past elections, former vice presidents who have competed to become the White House nominee have succeeded, including Republican George H.W. Bush in 1988 and Democrat Al Gore in 2000. Biden himself was vice president to former President Barack Obama.

But Pence could not overcome the political juggernaut of Trump, along with rivals who appealed more to primary voters and donors, including former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and DeSantis.

Pence ran as a traditional social and fiscal conservative, and a foreign policy hawk, calling for increased military aid to Ukraine and cuts in welfare spending. His brand of Republicanism has been eclipsed in the Trump era by full-throated populism and “America First” isolationism. – Rappler.com

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