Despite four years of loyalty, Pence has drawn the wrath of the GOP’s pro-Trump base for refusing to obey Trump’s wishes and, without a legal mechanism to do so, thwart the counting of some states’ votes in January 6.
But in front of a friendly crowd, he was greeted warmly as he dipped his toes in the water of the early campaign – flipping burgers at the Sioux Center and cheering from a socially conservative crowd that included longtime allies in Des Moines.
Pence insisted that the agenda he and Trump fought for in 2020 is a victorious one, pointing to GOP wins in the House of Representatives. But he largely left Trump out of the picture, skipping the frequent loans to the former president that had filled his speeches during his four years as vice president. He hadn’t mentioned their relationship since leaving Washington.
However, he recorded a reference to the January 6 uprising that followed Trump’s speech and had supporters wanting Pence to reject some states’ votes – and after Pence refused, he marched up to the Capitol and chanted, “Hang Mike Pence. ”
“The truth is we have been through a lot in the past year, a global pandemic, civil unrest, a divisive election, a tragic day in our nation’s capital,” said Pence.
In Des Moines, he criticized Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, complaining about “the damage they have done in such a short time.”
“I came here today to say, after 177 days of open borders, higher taxes, runaway spending, defunding the police, abortion on demand, censorship of free speech, abolition of our most cherished freedoms, I’ve had enough. And the time has come.” … stand up and fight the agenda of the radical left, “said Pence.
The earliest stage of the 2024 Republican presidential primaries unfolds with the party’s biggest question – whether Trump will run again – looming large.
Trump recently held campaign-style rallies again to settle internal party bills. He supported the Republican primaries in 2022. And he teased another presidential run, telling right-wing propaganda network Newsmax in June that he would “make an announcement in the not too distant future.”
If he doesn’t run again, however, Republicans would start with a wide-open field – a prospect that has drawn the party’s most ambitious personalities to travel to primary-voting states to liaise with activists, potential employees, and GOP officials a year and a half before the 2022 midterm elections.
In his speech, Pence accused Biden of overseeing an “explosion in spiraling spending,” referring to budget talks in Washington. He criticized the Biden government for ending the construction of Trump’s border wall. And he accused the government of replacing “patriotic upbringing” with “racist indoctrination” – and at the same time offered a misleading explanation of critical racial theory.
“The critical race theory teaches children in kindergarten to be ashamed of their skin. Critical racial theory is state-sanctioned racism and should be rejected by every American every day, “Pence said.
“And it is long time to abandon the left reflex to find systemic racism in every institution in the country,” he said. “America is not a racist country. America is the fairer, noblest and most inclusive nation that has ever existed on earth.”
Along with Pence, there were two other potential 2024 contenders for the Family Leadership Summit: South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Both received polite – but restrained – receptions from the crowd of hundreds of social conservatives.
Noem positioned himself under Biden, unlike America, describing a country she said was “built on hatred and division.
“It’s a shame to watch the violence and the crime and the lack of unity,” she said.
She bragged that South Dakota did not order any store closings during the coronavirus pandemic. “We don’t have any accommodation on site. We didn’t order anything. We just trusted the people,” she said.
South Dakota has the third most common Covid-19 cases per 100,000 population in the country, according to the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering. But the state has only seen one new case per 100,000 people a day lately.
For a week after Noem watched the protests against racial injustice last year, the state advertised to recruit foreign law enforcement officers to work in South Dakota, a campaign that she said attracted 900 police officers 41 states woke up. “We will continue to be a state that takes our law enforcement agencies in its arms,” said Noem.
Pompeo emphasized the role of his faith in foreign policy decisions during his tenure as Trump’s top diplomat. He said the Biden administration’s abolition of Trump-era politics was “difficult for me to observe”.
Pompeo argued that Biden was not tough enough on China and in responding to crime in American cities, and he complained that the Democrats had not given the police enough support.
He criticized “the rubbish they are trying to teach in our schools today” – a reference to critical racial theory, an increasingly common target for Republicans – and said the United States is not “inherently and systemically racist.”
“We shouldn’t question our creation. It was noble,” said Pompeo.
He added, “We are not a declining nation. We are not a racist nation. We are a God-blessed Christian nation. Don’t let the awakened socialists get you down.”