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Mike Pence announces 2024 run for president with sharp criticism of Trump

Former Vice President Mike Pence speaks to a crowd of motorcycle riders and the press before riding a motorcycle to the Iowa state fairgrounds for Iowa GOP Sen. Joni Ernst's Roast and Ride fundraiser on June 3.
Clay Masters
/
Iowa Public Radio
Former Vice President Mike Pence speaks to a crowd of motorcycle riders and the press before riding a motorcycle to the Iowa state fairgrounds for Iowa GOP Sen. Joni Ernst's Roast and Ride fundraiser on June 3.

Updated June 7, 2023 at 2:29 PM ET

Former Vice President Mike Pence officially jumped into the 2024 presidential race with a video released Wednesday morning. He capped off his campaign announcements with an event outside Des Moines, Iowa in front of supporters.

In a very different tone than he has taken in appearances leading up to the confirmation of his campaign, Pence did not mince words when it came to speaking about his former boss and running mate, former President Donald Trump.

He took direct and pointed aim at Trump about the events of Jan. 6, 2021, in which the angry mob that engulfed the Capitol shouted "Hang Mike Pence" and erected a gallows on the lawn. Pence was overseeing the official count of Electoral College votes that declared Joe Biden to be the winner of the 2020 election.

"My former running mate continues to insist that I had the right to overturn the 2020 election," Pence said. "President Trump is wrong."

"I will always believe by God's grace I did my duty that day."

Pence attempted to position himself as a constitutional conservative and argued that the Republican Party needs to be the party of the U.S. Constitution, directly addressing the oath he took as vice president and using it, again, to contrast with Trump.

"The American people deserve to know on that fateful day, President Trump also demanded I choose between him and our Constitution," Pence remembered. "Now voters will be faced with the same choice. I chose the constitution and I always will."

Pence has been signaling his plans for several months with several stops in early voting states like New Hampshire and Iowa and the announcement of a super PAC supporting his bid. Pence will join at least nine other Republicans attempting to unseat Trump as the frontrunner for the GOP nomination.

In the past several weeks, Pence has previewed a campaign focused on returning the Republican Party to traditional GOP themes like expanding free markets, fiscal responsibility, supporting American allies abroad and small government. He has also made more pointed attacks on Trump, his former running mate, by invoking his own faith and family values and promising to respect the Constitution.

FILE - President Donald Trump listens as Vice President Mike Pence speaks about the coronavirus in the Rose Garden of the White House, April 27, 2020, in Washington.
Alex Brandon / AP
/
AP
President Donald Trump listens as Vice President Mike Pence speaks about the coronavirus in the Rose Garden of the White House on April 27, 2020.

In a November 2022 interview with NPR's Steve Inskeep, Pence said his draw to the presidency boils down to sense of service. He said he believes that the people want to get back to the policies he and Trump championed during their time in office: a strong military; conservative courts; support for allies and standing up to enemies.

"But I think they long for leadership that could unite our country around our highest ideals and demonstrate the kind of respect and civility that the American people show each other every day," Pence told Inskeep. "You know, our politics is very divided right now, maybe more than any time in my lifetime. But you know, moving back to Indiana, shopping at the grocery store, going to the gas station, being back around family and friends, traveling the country, I'm not convinced that the American people are as divided as our politics."

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Dustin Jones is a reporter for NPR's digital news desk. He mainly covers breaking news, but enjoys working on long-form narrative pieces.
Kelsey Snell is a Congressional correspondent for NPR. She has covered Congress since 2010 for outlets including The Washington Post, Politico and National Journal. She has covered elections and Congress with a reporting specialty in budget, tax and economic policy. She has a graduate degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. and an undergraduate degree in political science from DePaul University in Chicago.
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