Donald Trump's former Vice President Mike Pence is considered his fiercest competitor in the fight for the role of the Republican presidential candidate.
WASHINGTON – Former US Vice President Mike Pence has begun his presidential campaign with an attack on his former boss Donald Trump. In a speech to supporters in Ankeny in the state of Iowa, the arch-conservative Republican made the ex-president on Wednesday jointly responsible for the storming of the Capitol on January 6, 2021 – and stressed that Trump should not be allowed to become president again.
He also accused Trump of putting him and his family in danger with his words. "The American people deserve to know that on that fateful day, President Trump also asked me to choose between him and the Constitution," Pence said. Now the voters would be faced with the same decision again.
Now it's my turn: then-US Vice President Mike Pence (r) together with Donald Trump in the White House in 2020 (archive image). © Michael Brochstein/ZUMA Wire/dpa
Pence wants to become U.S. president – and sharply attacks Donald Trump
Pence had made his candidacy public on Wednesday with a video, after he had already submitted his application documents to the election commission on Monday. Trump is also running again after his defeat in 2020. From 2017 to 2021, Pence was Trump's deputy in the White House. The presidential election is scheduled for November 5, 2024. Who will be the official candidate in the end will be decided by an internal party primary. Pence and Trump have a difficult relationship and a mixed common past.
"Anyone who puts himself above the Constitution should never be president of the United States," Pence said, referring to the storming of the U.S. Capitol. And anyone who asks someone else to put him above the Constitution should never become president again. In the evening, Pence, who also celebrated his 64th birthday on Wednesday, wanted to face questions from voters at a citizens' question time on CNN in Iowa.
Pence's sharp attacks against Trump: Republicans face decision
Trump supporters stormed the congressional seat on January 6, 2021, while the victory of Democrat Biden was to be confirmed there, chaired by Pence. Trump had claimed in the days before that Pence could simply reject election results from individual states, which legal experts and also the vice president considered illegitimate. During the storming of the Capitol, Trump tweeted that Pence "did not have the courage to do what should be done." Shouts of "Hang Pence" came from the mob. After the attack ended, Congress under Pence's chairmanship completed the certification of Biden's victory. Pence later described Trump's statements at the time and his behavior as dangerous.
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In the application video published by Pence, a number of scenes from his time as vice president can be seen, but Trump is deliberately omitted. Instead, like his speech a short time later, he takes aim at US President Joe Biden and his Democrats. "Our country is in great trouble today. President Joe Biden and the radical left have weakened America both domestically and abroad," Pence said. But God has not yet finished with America. Together, they can bring the country back to its former strength. "The best days for the greatest nation in the world are yet to come," he says.
Mike Pence wants to become U.S. president: Trump, Haley and DeSantis are the fiercest competitors within the party
With his announcement, Pence further expands the field of Republican aspirants. The most prominent among them, besides Trump, are Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley. Less movement is to be expected among the Democrats. President Biden is running for re-election, and as an incumbent, he is unlikely to face serious competition from within his own ranks in the election campaign.
Pence sees himself as a classic conservative who wants to bring the Republican Party back to its roots. He is deeply religious, likes to talk a lot about religion, cultivates the image of the good public servant. For Trump, the evangelical Christian covered this important group of voters at the time. Pence also supports a nationwide ban on abortion, which is very important to many conservatives, especially on the outer fringe. "Different times call for different leadership," Pence emphasizes in his video.
Republican presidential candidate: Pence sharply attacks Trump
Among the Republicans, Trump leads the field of candidates in polls. Pence is currently far behind. Due to his tenure as vice president, he has a high level of recognition, but he has to struggle with poor popularity ratings. For years, Pence appeared as a loyal companion of Trump. Far more than other vice presidents before him, he was eager to constantly praise his boss and put him on a pedestal of sorts. But at the latest in the turmoil after the 2020 presidential election, the relationship between the two was permanently damaged. (dpa/AFP/Reuters/fmü)