Mike Pence builds conservative bonafides as both he and Trump tease 2024 runs

Former vice-president continues laying groundwork for 2024 bid, writes John Bowden

Friday 29 October 2021 05:09
Comments
<p>Former Vice President Mike Pence greets attendees after speaking about educational freedom at Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Va., Thursday, Oct. 28, 2021</p>

Former Vice President Mike Pence greets attendees after speaking about educational freedom at Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Va., Thursday, Oct. 28, 2021

Former Vice President Mike Pence took a swing through Washington DC and northern Virginia on Thursday at a pair of events that could offer clues into his future ambitions.

At the Free Iran Summit at Washington DC’s Hilton hotel Thursday morning, Mr Pence spoke for roughly an hour in a prepared address and follow-up discussion with Marc Short, his former chief of staff, about his time in the White House and the work of the Trump administration to impose a pressure campaign against Iran’s government.

His remarks were full of effusive praise for his former boss, despite media reports indicating that the two have not mended ties following the 6 January attack on the US Capitol and Mr Pence’s refusal to try and halt the certification of former President Donald Trump’s 2020 election defeat.

“Under the Trump-Pence administration, I am proud that America did not turn a deaf ear to the pleas of the Iranian people,” said Mr Pence, adding: “On the day we left office, the Iranian regime was more isolated than ever before.”

From there, he headed to Loudoun County, Virginia, where he delivered an address on “educational freedom”, a clear call to the growing anger in the conservative GOP base around issues including mask and vaccine mandates in schools as well as the teaching of content dealing with social issues.

In recent months, school boards across the country have faced calls from conservatives to ban the teaching of “critical race theory”; in practice, this criticism largely has sought to stifle most teaching about issues like racism, slavery, and segregation, as the right has opposed anything that could be seen as agreeing with the central theory that America is or was a racist country, either past or present.

The multifaceted school board controversies began seriously ramping up as schools began enforcing mask mandates at the beginning of the 2021 school year; most school districts went to some form of distance learning in 2020. Parents were confronted with requirements that their children wear masks for the entire day while indoors, and in some cases balked at the idea of wearing masks themselves on school property.

Anger over the issues has only grown in recent months; earlier this week a school board in a small rural Pennsylvania district told CBS Philadelphia that every single member of its board had received violent threats, adding that the board was sending them to the FBI.

Mr Pence is not the first likely 2024 contender to weigh in on this issue. Florida’s Ron DeSantis had that honour earlier this month when he vowed to fight any effort to work with federal law enforcement to investigate threats against school board officials.

Mike Pence says media uses Capitol riot to ‘distract’ from Biden’s ‘failed agenda’

“Attorney General Garland is weaponising the DOJ by using the FBI to pursue concerned parents and silence them through intimidation,” said the governor. “Florida will defend the free speech rights of its citizens and will not allow federal agents to squelch dissent.”

Thursday’s swing through Purcellville, Virginia., followed two other policy-related speeches Mr Pence has hosted through the organisation he founded after leaving the White House in January, Advancing American Freedom. He previously spoke in Oregon about “law enforcement and public safety”, another hot-button issue for conservatives who have largely battled the criticism of US police levelled by supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement. The former president also spoke at the conservative Heritage Foundation in DC about US-China relations.

All in all, the events signal that Mr Pence is eager to remain in the conversation on a wide range of topics as speculation swirls regarding whether his former boss will mount a third bid for the White House in 2024.

Mr Trump is viewed as the likely favourite for the GOP nomination should he run again, a prospect that the former president has been more than happy to entertain. That has not deterred other GOP hopefuls from laying the groundwork for their own campaigns, but could change their plans drastically should he jump in the race officially.

The Washington Post reported earlier this month that the former president is all but officially running, and has only held off on announcing to avoid taking the blame for any potential GOP shortcomings in the 2022 midterms.

“As for 2024, there has been a shift from intention to urgency as he watches in horror the many failings of this administration,” his former campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, told the newspaper.

Mr Pence appears himself in full-steam-ahead mode preparing the base for his own White House bid regardless of his former boss’s desire to return to power, and will head to Iowa, the first primary state, next month for an event hosted by the Young American Foundation.

The Independent reached out to a spokesman for Mr Pence about the talk surrounding his own 2024 ambitions on Thursday, who declined to comment.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in