MOVE ON, MAGA: Pence rebukes Trumpy candidates stuck on 2020, pushes GOP to focus on the future

EXCLUSIVE: Former Vice President Mike Pence, in an interview with Fox News Digital, said that the country needs “different leadership” and blamed the GOP’s lackluster midterm performance on his party’s hyper-focus on “relitigating the last election.”

Though Pence steered clear of rebuking his former boss outright, highlighting the achievements of the Trump-Pence administration, the former vice president alluded to a need for change and getting “back to the policies of the Trump administration” — rather than back to Trump himself.

“I have the view that that different times call for different leadership,” said Pence. “The American people, I think, want to see us get back to the policies of the Trump administration. I’ve heard again and again around the country that people want leadership that could unite our country around our highest ideals and reflect the kind of civility and respect that Americans show one another.”

Pence, who many believe will throw his hat in the ring for the upcoming presidential election, has not yet made a formal commitment to run, saying that he will need to deliberate with his family on “whatever role” he might play in 2024.

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Former Vice President Mike Pence visits “Fox & Friends” at Fox News Channel studios on Nov. 16, 2022 in New York City.
(John Lamparski)

Pence’s comments come on the heels of Trump’s announcement to run for president again in 2024, speaking to a crowd of supporters Tuesday night from his Mar-a-Lago home in Florida — the same day that Pence released his new book titled “So Help Me God”, detailing his time in the White House.

Mike Pence’s new book “So Help Me God”, details Pence’s time in the Oval Office.
(Getty Images)

When reflecting on Republicans’ disappointing performance in the midterms, Pence stressed the need for his party to “focus on the future,” pointing to Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp as a bright spot on an otherwise sub-par day for the party.

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Republican Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, right, and Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, left, at a Georgia campaign event leading up to the midterm elections.
(Elijah Nouvelage)

“Candidates that were focused on the past, focused on relitigating the last election did not fare as well. And that’s one of the reasons I was campaigning for Governor Brian Kemp in the primary earlier this year.”

Like Pence, the Georgia governor has been a frequent target of Trump’s public rancor. Despite taking a shellacking from the former president in the aftermath of the 2020 election, Kemp managed to beat out a Trump-backed primary challenger in May and handily defeated Stacey Abrams in the general election last week.

On abortion’s role in the midterms, Pence believes that Democrats “mischaracterized the consequences” of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision from the get-go.

President Biden speaks about the importance of electing Democrats who want to restore abortion rights on Oct. 18.
(Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call)

“I think the American people caught on and that what the Supreme Court did was simply return the question of abortion to the states and to the American people, to the democratic process.”

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Despite some analysts saying Republicans underestimated the impact abortion had on voters, Pence believes that candidates who leaned in on a “principled basis” and “articulated their support for the right to life” performed “quite well” in their races.