Pence, who served as Trump’s VP, has halted his bid to become the Republican Party’s 2024 presidential nominee.
On Saturday, at a Republican Jewish Coalition gathering in Las Vegas, Pence announced his withdrawal from the race. Pence, like many other candidates, had been far behind Trump in the polls.
“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 said.
Pence, 64, had been leading a campaign that had been suffering for some time. He had previously served as governor of Indiana and as a congressman for the state. Due to a lack of necessary funds, he was not eligible to participate in the upcoming third GOP debate on November 8th.
His statement on Saturday, which was attended by Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, among other potential candidates for the party’s nomination next year, caught many by surprise.
Appearing on the stage at the event in Nevada, Pence, a Christian hard-right conservative, said: “The Bible tells us there is a time for every purpose under heaven” and he went on to add: “This is not my time.”
The crowd at the event, anticipating rousing words as he began his campaign, let out a collective gasp as he made the news, displaying his customary lack of evident emotion.
Instead, Pence made his announcement drily then put more power in his voice as he said: “Now, I’m leaving this campaign, but let me promise you, I will never leave the fight for conservative values and I will never stop fighting to elect principled Republican leaders to every office in the land, so help me God.”
The crowd then broke into cheers, whistles and sustained applause, with Pence saying a quiet “thank you” after some minutes.
His run for the presidency never really took off. Despite Trump being impeached twice, first for extorting Ukraine and once for stirring the rebellion at the US Capitol on 6 January 2021, he remained a faithful lieutenant to the New York Republican throughout his controversial single term.
However, it all changed when Pence took the action that permanently severed ties between himself and Trump. Trump had urged the then-vice president, in his capacity as president of the US Senate, not to certify Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory over Trump, but he refused.
When Trump then condemned Pence for that via social media, as crowds of extremists were surging to the Capitol then broke in to try, in vain, to force a halt to Biden’s certification, many began chanting “Hang Mike Pence”.
On 6 January, while in the chamber to certify the result, the vice president, along with other members of Congress, had to evacuate for their safety as the mob invaded the premises. Despite opposition from several Republicans, Congress confirmed Biden’s victory over Trump in the early hours of January 7 in a damaged Capitol.
When Pence launched his campaign for the 2024 GOP nomination, however, in June, he chastised Trump for his “reckless” actions on 6 January.
Pence rehashed ideas from his campaign video released hours earlier, such as addressing inflation, the national debt, and issues at the US-Mexico border, and he bragged about his record in Congress and as governor of Indiana, during which he supported legislation against abortion and expanded government spending.
He also pointed to his time as vice-president, touting some of the policies that he and Trump pushed forth in their term.
He first noted: “I was proud to stand by President Donald Trump every day”, then said: “The American people deserve to know that on that day [6 January 2021], President Trump also demanded that I choose between him and the constitution … And anyone who asked someone else to put them over the constitution should never be president of the United States again.”
Pence is strongly anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQ+ equality, a fiscal conservative and a foreign policy hawk.
“I’m a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order,” Pence said at his launch, repeating a frequently used phrase.
Trump’s base of core supporters never forgave Pence for overseeing the certification of Biden’s election to the White House, viewing it as a supreme act of disloyalty to their icon.
Pence stopped short of endorsing anyone in his speech on Saturday, but in an apparent swipe at Trump, called on Americans to select someone who appeals to “the better angels of our nature” and can lead with “civility”.
Since announcing his run for president in June, Pence has languished in the low single digits of opinion polls and struggled to collect money. He failed to attract enough anti-Trump Republican primary voters, and contributors, to sustain his campaign.
Therefore, by October, Pence, a stolid candidate lacking in charm, had run out of money and had failed to gain traction in Iowa, the first state to hold the Republican primary caucuses.
Pence’s campaign announced its third-quarter fundraising totals on October 15th, showing a $620,000 deficit and a total of $1.2 million in cash on hand—far less than several better-performing Republican rivals and certainly not enough to sustain the financial demands of a White House campaign.
Al Gore, the Democratic vice president in 2000, and George H.W. Bush, the Republican vice president in 1988, are just two examples of previous vice presidents who successfully ran for president and were ultimately nominated by their respective parties.
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