Ex-VP Pence enters the 2024 presidential election
Ex-VP Pence enters the 2024 presidential election

Washington: Former vice president Mike Pence of the Republican Party announced on Monday that he would run for president in 2024, providing a more conventional challenge to populists Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis.

Prior to a formal announcement on Wednesday in Iowa, a state with early voting, the evangelical Christian submitted his paperwork to the Federal Election Commission, joining a field that was already crowded.

Pence, 63, cultivated his reputation as a fiercely devoted assistant who stuck by Trump throughout a four-year period marred by scandals and won over the religious right.

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However, he became an outcast in Trumpworld after refusing the Republican leader's requests that he annul the 2020 election in his capacity as Senate president.

Pence was continually chastised by Trump after Joe Biden's victory, and even heckled with cries of "traitor!" at a conservative conference. Nevertheless, Pence continued to praise the businessman in public.

That eventually changed when a mob at the US Capitol began chanting for Pence to be hanged as a result of Trump's barrage of false allegations of election fraud.

For the majority of the past two years, Pence has travelled to early-nominating states like Iowa and New Hampshire to reaffirm his commitment to being a "Christian, conservative, and Republican — in that order."

His entry doesn't significantly alter the race's dynamics, which are already set up as Donald Trump, the front-runner, DeSantis, the Florida governor in office, and everyone else.

Pence presents himself as a traditional Republican who cares about family values and fiscal responsibility and can carry out Trump's economic policies without fuss.

He has, however, also indicated that there is clear water between the two as he strongly supports Ukraine and won't rule out cuts to welfare benefits.

Although Pence's political views are well-liked among Republicans, some critics wonder if he still has support in a party that now places a greater emphasis on populism and cultural politics than on traditional conservatism.

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Additionally, voters who support his decision to defend the Constitution have other options for candidates, such as the proselytising Christian Tim Scott, who do not carry the baggage of the Trump administration.

Republican strategist Sarah Longwell told Politico, "We all give (Pence) credit for certifying the election.

He did, however, stand next to Donald Trump for four years as Trump trampled the presidency, normalising and validating him.

DeSantis hopes to defeat Trump from the right by consistently polling nearly 20 points better than Pence.

The floodgates have been opened, however, by the Florida governor's dismal performance in head-to-head polls, with Chris Christie set to declare on Tuesday and join former governors Nikki Haley, Asa Hutchinson, and Doug Burgum in the race.

Pence, like Haley and DeSantis, has seemed determined to stay out of Trump's way in an effort to win over some of his former supporters should the string of criminal investigations into the former president force him to withdraw from the race.

There is still a long way to go in the race, and Trump was trailing in the low single digits at this point in the 2016 cycle, according to the lower-ranked candidates.

Democrats who were spectating from the sidelines claimed that Pence would tilt the election to the right due to his socially conservative platform and his hardline stance against same-sex marriage and abortion.

Mike Pence "hasn't slowed down" since joining the extreme Tea Party, in his own words, "before it was cool," according to Democratic National Committee Chair Jaime Harrison.

Pence's break with Trump over the uprising, according to Zed Cohen-Sanchez, a left-leaning election strategist who has collaborated with progressives like Bernie Sanders, was a double-edged sword.

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"Despite allegations and charges against Trump, his base remains strong, and given that Pence essentially turned against Trump, these voters will not support him," she said to AFP.

DeSantis has a track record that conservatives are enthusiastic about and they see him as a strong alternative to Trump, so the majority of other Republicans support him.


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