In his first political speech since leaving office, former Vice President Mike Pence made it clear that his days of trying to ingratiate himself with his former boss are far from over as he forges his political plans for the future.
On Thursday evening, Mr Pence did not speak to the Palmetto Family Council, a socially conservative group in South Carolina, about the scathing criticism Mr Trump had of him for refusing to dismiss the 2020 presidential election results. He made only temporary mention of the January 6 attack on the Capitol, which included excited Trump supporters singing “Hang Mike Pence” while the President did nothing to stop them for hours. (An earlier version of this article made no mention of the January 6 attack.)
He did not admit that after being loyal to Mr. Trump for four years, Mr. Trump dangled insulting tidbits for conservative news outlets from his bunker in Mar-a-Lago; That includes an interview with Fox Business in which Mr Trump said he would consider Florida Governor Ron DeSantis a fellow campaigner if he decided to start another presidential campaign in 2024.
Instead, Mr Pence made his political calculation clear: Any possible future in the party for him still depends on remaining close to Mr Trump despite the outrage that comes with it. Mr Pence said he had the “privilege to serve alongside President Donald Trump” and recalled the good times they had together in the 2016 campaign.
After explaining how hard they were going to advertise in 2016, he remembered Mr. Trump “looking over at me and slapping my shoulder and saying,” And then it will be great. “Mr. Pence wrote to her administration” Four years of consistency, four years of results, and four years of promises and promises kept. “
He recalled Mr. Trump sending him to speak at the March for Life, the annual anti-abortion advocate demonstration, in 2017 after Mr. Trump realized he would not be able to attend to participate yourself.
“I remember standing next to the Resolute Desk,” recalled Mr. Pence, noting that he was speaking “quite shyly” to say to Mr. Trump, “You know, they invited me too.”
Mr. Trump looked up at him, he remembered, and “he said,” Well, you should definitely go. “
Mr. Pence has been silent since leaving office, particularly skipping Republican gatherings such as the Conservative Political Action Conference in February. He had a successful operation this month to have a pacemaker implanted and signed a contract to write a book about his tenure as vice president.
According to an aide, Mr Pence has spoken to Mr Trump frequently since the two of them left. They last connected, the aide said when Mr. Trump called him after his pacemaker procedure.
In public, however, Mr Trump has continued to criticize his former loyal # 2. Speaking to party donors this month, Mr. Trump said he was “disappointed” with Mr. Pence for presiding over certification of election results.
In his speech, Mr. Pence also condemned the Biden government for promoting what he called the “avalanche of liberal politics”. He promised to “break off culture wherever it arises” and claimed that the Republican Party is the one that “recognizes this electoral integrity” is a national imperative. “
“Had enough?” He said about Mr Biden’s agenda. “I have.”