‘Pathetic. Weak. Spineless. Shameless’: Anger on both sides of the divide as Pence encourages GOP Senate election challenge

Senator Mitt Romney calls move ‘egregious ploy’ that ‘dangerously threatens Democratic Republic’

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Sunday 03 January 2021 19:07 GMT
Mike Pence running and clapping at the same time

The reaction to Vice President Mike Pence’s statement that he welcomed the efforts of a number congressional Republicans planning to challenge the election results was swift and harsh.  

Conservative attorney and husband of former counsellor to the president Kellyanne Conway had a few choice words to describe the actions of Mr Pence. 

At least 140 House Republicans and 12 in the Senate have announced that they plan to challenge the congressional certification on January 6. Mr Pence is to preside over the proceedings in the Senate.

Mr Pence’s chief of staff Marc Short put out a statement saying that Mr Pence “shares the concerns of millions of Americans about voter fraud and irregularities in the last election,” and that “The vice president welcomes the efforts of members of the House and Senate to use the authority they have under the law to raise objections and bring forward evidence before the Congress and the American people”.

Mr Pence previously asked that a lawsuit attempting to give him the authority to overturn the election be dismissed. 

Mr Pence is joining the election challenge along with several other Republicans who are thought to be eyeing presidential runs in 2024, like Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Missouri Senator Josh Hawley. To win the nomination they would likely have to become the heir-apparent in the eyes of Donald Trump’s fervent supporters. 

Mr Cruz, along with ten other Senators, put out a statement on Saturday, saying that “Congress should immediately appoint an Electoral Commission, with full investigatory and fact-finding authority, to conduct an emergency 10-day audit of the election returns in the disputed states.”

“Accordingly, we intend to vote on January 6 to reject the electors from disputed states… unless and until that emergency 10-day audit is completed.”

The statement cited the belief many voters hold that the election was rigged but no evidence that that was the case. No evidence has yet been found of widespread voter fraud and election security experts have said that the election was free, fair, and safe. A statement from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said: “The November 3rd election was the most secure in American history.”

Mr Trump’s former Attorney General William Barr said on December 1 that “We have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.” 

Mr Cruz’ statement noted that some Democrats have raised objections in the past and cited an electoral commission setup in 1877 after doubts were raised about the 1876 election. But this large a number of election challengers could rock the foundations of American democracy by turning what used to be procedure into a partisan fight. 

The last standard-bearer of the Republican Party from the pre-Trump era, 2012 presidential nominee and now Utah Senator Mitt Romney put out a statement blasting the election challenge saying: “The egregious ploy to reject electors may enhance the political ambition of some, but dangerously threatens our Democratic Republic.”

Mr Romney called Mr Cruz’s argument that challenging the results would restore trust in the system “nonsense". finishing with: “I could never have imagined seeing these things in the greatest democracy in the world. Has ambition so eclipsed principle?”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s former chief of staff predicted that those challenging the election will regret it in the future. 

Republican Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska slammed members of his own party saying: “The president and his allies are playing with fire… If you make big claims, you had better have the evidence. But the president doesn’t and neither do the institutional arsonist members of Congress who will object to the Electoral College vote."

Mr Sasse joined Mr Romney in criticising the election challengers for putting political ambition ahead of integrity. He said: “Let’s be clear what is happening here: We have a bunch of ambitious politicians who think there’s a quick way to tap into the president’s populist base without doing any real, long-term damage. But they’re wrong – and this issue is bigger than anyone’s personal ambitions. Adults don’t point a loaded gun at the heart of legitimate self-government.”

Join our commenting forum

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


Thank you for registering

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