The Right Resistance: Pence vs. Trump feud is overblown, but will voters have short memories?
The case for Mike Pence in 2024.
It’s safe to say not many Donald Trump supporters thought they’d ever need to “make a case” for Mike Pence when it came time to succeed the winner of the 2016 and 2020 elections – or so we thought and anticipated. As the loyal vice president dutifully accepting the secondary spot these eight years, the soft-spoken man from Indiana would’ve been a natural heir apparent to the two-term MAGA force that was Donald Trump.
But it didn’t turn out that way. The votes came in on Election Day, 2020, and it looked to many like the contest was a virtual repeat of 2016 when Trump and Pence defied all the polls and pundit predictions to defeat the heinous Crooked Hillary Clinton in every swing state that mattered – and even included a couple huge upsets (Pennsylvania, Michigan) that no one would’ve foresaw in a dozen national elections.
Instead, in 2020, Trump leads in Georgia, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan mysteriously evaporated overnight, and solid chances for a Republican ticket comeback in Nevada and Arizona also came up short. Everyone but Democrats smelled a rat. One friend suggested that a 2016-like pattern had occurred in Ohio and North Carolina – and Florida – but not these other states, all or which went the other way for some reason.
Of course, the powers-that-be stopped counting votes in Georgia, while late Biden ballots (allegedly due to mail-in rules after the deadline) swamped Michigan and Wisconsin. Trump had all-but declared victory on Election Night and, as the days went on, reports of funny business blanketed the conservative news airwaves. As an example, someone had erected barriers to observing the vote count in Michigan. Or, a truck driver came forth and swore under oath that he’d transported a load of blank ballots from New York city to the counters in Pennsylvania.
The affidavits came flooding in, too, yet the Biden leads in these six key states only increased. The president was beside himself trying to get someone to do something – or at least to acknowledge the inconsistencies. Court after court – including the U.S. Supreme Court – refused to act, citing a lack or ripeness or, what they said was insufficient evidence, or an unwillingness to intervene in the political process.
Trump fired Attorney General William Barr largely due to the man’s public stance against getting involved. The days went by and nothing was done. The establishment media acted as though the matter was settled and, as usual, depicted Trump as a sore loser who refused to admit that he’d lost. Establishment Republicans piled on. It was ugly.
We weren’t privy to what was going on behind the scenes, but Trump publicly called on his vice president to act to stop the Electoral Vote count when Congress convened to tally them up. Pence was non-committal, but it certainly didn’t seem like he would align with the scholars who insisted the vice president possessed such a power.
January 6 arrived, and a very small band of Trump supporters, perhaps egged-on by leftist agitators as well as disguised agents of their own government, behaved in a manner that conservatives generally don’t do. These few outliers clashed with police. They climbed up the outer walls of the capitol building. Establishment news crews got all the footage they’d ever need to play over and over again to whip the outrage mob into a frenzy.
When Congress reconvened late that night, there was no stomach left for overturning the questionable results. Joe Biden was officially elected, and everyone in Trump’s orbit felt his political career was finished. This group included myself.
Mike Pence was left in limbo. Democrats and the Washington establishment let it be known that Trump wasn’t welcome at Biden’s inauguration, but Pence ended up going to represent the outgoing administration. In a scene of incredible awkwardness, a masked (remember, the COVID stupidity was still at high ebb) Mike Pence walked down the same capitol steps he’d taken four years earlier. In doing so, Pence was seen as the “good guy” in this scenario. Trump returned to his home in Florida and laid low.
Time and circumstances have remarkably flipped since that topsy-turvy time. It took a few months, but Trump’s political prospects recovered and eventually placed him right smack in the middle of the conversation for upcoming 2024 Republican presidential candidates. All signs now lead to the former president declaring another candidacy, while Mike Pence’s have seemingly gone the other direction, with a number of Trump backers vowing to never forgive him.
Despite this, Pence himself looks as though he will be part of the debate for 2024, if not a candidate himself. The former vice president has put together an agenda to further his cause. Tom Howell, Jr., reported at The Washington Times:
“Alienated from Mr. Trump, Mr. Pence focused his remarks on their joint policy wins, the culture wars and stumbles by the Biden administration, as the former vice president makes the rounds in the policy and political world, stirring talk of a 2024 presidential bid. ‘Our borders are under siege, our currency has been devalued, our energy independence has been squandered and our booming economy is being brought to a screeching halt by big government socialism. There is a cure for what ails America, and that is leadership committed to American freedom,’ he told the [Young America’s] foundation, a conservative group for young people founded in 1969.
“As Mr. Trump continues to focus on the 2020 election results, the subtext of Mr. Pence‘s speech was a focus on what lies ahead. ‘Now some people may choose to focus on the past, but elections are about the future and I believe conservatives must focus on the future to win back America,’ he said.
“He spoke at length about reciprocal trade deals and deregulation policies that spurred the economy during the Trump administration — arguing it provides a road map for the future — but he did not dwell on the former president or their rift. ‘I don’t know that our movement is that divided. I don’t know that the president and I differ on issues, but we may differ on focus,’ Mr. Pence said.”
Yes indeed, Trump and Pence don’t appear to differ all that much on issues, but on focus they definitely do diverge. In times past it was widely rumored that Pence was the secret policy weapon behind the Trump administration, the man being placed in charge of setting much of the domestic agenda while Trump did his job as commander in chief and “selling” the ideas to the public.
Many folks don’t recall that Pence was always there when Trump gave policy speeches. Who really knows what went on behind closed doors -- but the dignified second in command never criticized his boss in public. And needless to say, the numerous gossip reports of Pence having “had it” with Trump’s behavioral antics and was therefore contemplating an exit – well, they never came true, did they?
To my knowledge, there never was any inkling that the two differed in any major respect except on January 6. Nevertheless, the establishment news media – and Liz Cheney’s stupid January 6 Committee – couldn’t keep from dredging up the audible “hang Mike Pence’ chants during the riot, but does anyone seriously believe the unorganized, unarmed (except for sticks and flagpoles) crowd would have gone through with an actual lynching? Pence’s secret service detail was all packing, weren’t they? Common sense says not a soul would’ve gotten within ten yards of Pence’s person.
The vice president was never in danger. And it’s not like the rioters were able to fully take control of the capitol itself. Not even for one second. Video shows the police were letting the protesters into the building unhindered – and most of them just walked around and took selfies. Yet the authorities continue to tell lies about the fate of Officer Brian Sicknick. Shameful.
The greater question for Pence’s future is whether he can overcome the controversy and visible public spat with his old boss to become a legitimate contender in 2024? As I’ve written before, if the choice were only between politicians with records and accomplishments (versus the usual media focus on personalities and hyperbole), Pence would have a darn solid shot at it.
Trump may claim sole credit for everything his administration achieved in its relatively short four years, but there had to be others helping out while the president was dealing with the inane Russian collusion investigation, practically daily battles with the Democrat leadership, an entirely hostile establishment media and the ruling elites of his own party who sought to undermine him at every step and bobble.
For sure, Donald Trump was the face of his administration, and his thousands of tweets bolstered his arguments and defenses whenever such things were called for. But let’s not forget that Trump was a relative policy novice when he entered politics, and many of his personnel choices turned out to be disastrous, with ambitious underlings actively working to thwart him.
But not Mike Pence. Trump’s vice president was out fighting the good fight, dutifully staying in the background while the president did what he does best – fight for the MAGA voters and principles. Here’s thinking Pence would make a very good candidate – and president – if the stars aligned and conditions fell into place.
Both Trump and Pence deserve criticism for the way COVID was handled – specifically for not firing the federal government’s medical team when it became evident that they were power-hungry adventurers who didn’t give a hoot about constitutional freedoms. But the truth will come out – and both Trump and Pence will have to answer for it.
There certainly is a case to be made for Mike Pence in 2024, though a lot of good things would need to happen in order for Trump’s vice president to convince enough conservative voters that America is ready to get beyond what went down in 2020 and should home in on the future alone. Pence deserves a platform and respect; as for his political future, it’s still a mystery.
Joe Biden economy
Biden cognitive deline
January 6 Committee
Build Back Better
Marjorie Taylor Green
2024 presidential election