Donald Trump sure sounds like he’s running for president in 2024, and if he makes another run, he’ll be doing it without former vice president Mike Pence on the ticket.
In a phone interview with the Washington Examiner on Tuesday, Trump remained critical of his vice president when asked about the possibility of again tapping Pence to be his running mate.
“I don’t think the people would accept it,” Trump told the publication, citing the fallout from the 2020 election as a point of contention. Trump, of course, has refused to accept the fact that he lost, and unsuccessfully pressured Pence to reject the counting of Electoral College votes in Congress on Jan. 6, 2021. Since the deadly Capitol insurrection, he has periodically complained about Pence bucking his boss and deciding instead to keep alive the world’s longest-running Democracy.
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In recent months, Pence has sought to distance himself from Trump regarding the events of Jan. 6. In February, he told the Federalist Society that Trump was “wrong” to claim the vice president had the authority to overturn the election. “Frankly there is almost no idea more un-American than the notion that any one person could choose the American president,” he said.
Pence, who himself hasn’t ruled out a White House bid, has also taken a firmer approach than Trump toward Russia. Earlier this month, following the country’s invasion of Ukraine, Pence told a group of Republican donors that there’s “no room in this party for apologists for Putin” — a thinly veiled criticism of Trump, who has had a very difficult time saying anything bad about the Russian president.
Trump told the Examiner that he and Pence haven’t spoken “in a long time.”
“Mike and I had a great relationship except for the very important factor that took place at the end. We had a very good relationship,” Trump said. He then repeated his line of attack against the ex-vice president about Jan. 6, saying he was “disappointed” in him.
“Mike thought he was going to be a human conveyor belt, that no matter how fraudulent the votes, you have to send them up to the Old Crow,” the twice-impeached conspiracy theorist said, referring to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
“But that turned out to be wrong. Because now, as you know, they are feverishly working to try and get it so that the vice president cannot do what Mike said he couldn’t do,” Trump added, referring to efforts to reform the Electoral Count Act. “Obviously, they were either lying, misrepresenting, or they didn’t know.”
There are no heroes here. Mike Pence spent five years trying to put a veneer of respectability over the Trump presidency as he successfully laundered Trump’s bigoted and authoritarian agenda into the mainstream. At the end, Pence commendably declined to plunge the country into the precipice, but outside of Trump himself, he’s responsible as anyone for bringing us close to the edge.
And now Trump is moving on, determined to find someone even worse. Hope it was worth it, Mike.
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