Pence paints contrasts with Trump as former VP moves closer to launching 2024 campaign
CONCORD, N.H. – With a 2024 White House campaign looming, former Vice President Mike Pence is putting plenty of distance between himself and former President Trump.
While not blasting the former president with the language or the tone used by some others in the field of actual and likely Republican presidential nomination contenders — such as former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, and New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu — Pence is making clear where he and his one-time running mate disagree.
Pence said that Trump was “wrong” when it comes to entitlement reform as he took questions from Fox News and a handful of other news organizations on Tuesday evening after speaking at a conservative think tank in New Hampshire, the state that holds the first primary and second overall contest in the GOP presidential nomination race.
HERE’S THE LATEST SIGN THAT PENCE IS ABOUT TO LAUNCH A PRESIDNTIAL CAMPAIGN
Pence, who is expected to launch a Republican presidential campaign in the coming weeks, spotlighted his economic agenda as he keynoted an annual awards dinner hosted by the Josiah Bartlett Center. The former vice president called for making permanent tax cuts implemented during the Trump-Pence administration, promoting free trade, calling on the Federal Reserve to concentrate solely on fighting inflation and leaving job creation to Congress and the president, and resisting efforts by some in the GOP to punish big businesses over ideological grounds.
The former vice president showcased his calls for fiscal responsibility and urged that the country head down a path towards a balanced federal budget. And with Social Security and Medicare — which Pence said are major contributors to what he termed “runaway government spending” — facing shortfall risks in the years ahead, he reiterated his push for entitlement reform of the popular government programs.
WHAT PENCE SAID ABOUT TRUMP AS FORMER VP NEARS 2024 CAMPAIGN LAUNCH
When asked by Fox News if Trump — who has pushed back against talk of entitlement reform by highlighting his pledge to protect Social Security and Medicare — was wrong, Pence answered, “the truth is President Joe Biden’s policy is insolvency. He’s said we’re not even going to talk about Social Security and Medicare reform. And frankly my former running mate’s policy’s exactly the same. And I think they’re both wrong.”
Pence disagreed with Trump’s comments last week at a town hall in New Hampshire, where the former president shrugged off concerns about the U.S. potentially defaulting on its financial obligations as soon as June 1 if Congress and the White House do not agree to a compromise to address the debt limit. Trump suggested the country should default if President Biden does not agree to Republican congressional spending cuts.
“Well, you might as well do it now because you’ll do it later because we have to save this country. Our country is dying. Our country is being destroyed by stupid people, by very stupid people,” Trump said.
While the U.S. Treasury has warned defaulting poses a “catastrophic” risk to the global economy, Trump suggested that “it’s really psychological more than anything else. And it could be really bad, it could be maybe nothing, maybe it’s a bad week, or a bad day, who knows?”
On Tuesday, Pence disagreed with the former president, saying “I think President Biden and Republicans and Democrats in Washington, D.C., have an obligation to meet the requirements of the Constitution of the United States to uphold the full faith and credit of the United States.”
However, he added, “I strongly support Speaker [Kevin] McCarthy’s efforts to make a down payment on fiscal discipline and reform.”
WHO’S IN AND WHO’S ON THE SIDELINES — YOUR GUIDE TO THE 2024 GOP PRESIDENTIAL NOMINATION RACE
Pence once again highlighted his differences with Trump on the combustible issue of abortion, which is top of mind with many in the GOP base, specifically Trump’s hesitance to fully support federal abortion bans proposed by some Republicans.
“I disagree with President Trump about the heartbeat bill,” Pence reiterated to reporters. “I also believe that there’s a role at the federal level to advance the sanctity of life.”
Pence was also asked whether Trump should bow out of the 2024 race after a federal jury in New York City last week in a civil case found Trump liable for sexually abusing writer E. Jean Carroll in an upscale Manhattan department store nearly three decades ago, but not liable for the rape Carroll accused Trump of committing. The jury concluded within a couple of hours that Trump was also liable for defamation and awarded Carroll nearly $5 million in damages. Trump has called Carroll’s claims “fake” and repeatedly trashed the verdict, which he is appealing.
“I think that’s a decision for the American people and for him [Trump]. Look, it’s a free country,” Pence reiterated.
However, he added that “I never want to be dismissive of any allegations of that nature. I’m the father of two daughters, the grandfather of three granddaughters. I think everyone deserves who believes they’ve been the subject to sexual abuse to let their voice be heard.”
Trump, who launched his third straight White House campaign in November, is currently the overwhelming front-runner in the Republican nomination race according to polling. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who like Pence remains on the 2024 sidelines but is expected to launch a campaign in the coming weeks, is firmly in second in the surveys, behind Trump but far ahead of Pence – who polls in the mid-single digits – and the rest of the burgeoning field of contenders.
“I’ve debated Donald Trump many times, just not with the cameras on. I’d welcome the opportunity to bring my ideas forward if I’m a candidate,” Pence said when asked how he would handle challenging his former running mate.
Minutes earlier, during the event, Pence also took a shot at DeSantis over his high-profile fight with Disney, as part of Florida governor’s culture wars strategy of targeting corporations over woke policy.
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
“I’m a limited government constitution conservative,” Pence emphasized. “Republicans should stand for the freedom of businesses to do business and nothing beyond that. That should be our principle. I truly do believe that.”
He added that “I simply believe that the state should not be moving against a private employer simply because they disagree on a political issue in the state legislature. I really believe in freedom, in free markets.”