Pence blasts Trump, DeSantis at New Hampshire GOP fundraiser
WASHINGTON (NewsNation) — Former Vice President Mike Pence still hasn’t officially joined the 2024 race for the White House, but that didn’t stop him from dropping hints during a special GOP fundraiser dinner in New Hampshire on Thursday.
Pence took shots at former President Donald Trump, telling a room full of supporters about the events that played out on Jan. 6 and saying that come 2024, an American comeback will begin.
“Now, I know our former president has said that I had the right to overturn the election. But Donald Trump is wrong. I had no right to overturn the election. The presidency belongs to the American people and to the American people alone,” Pence said.
Marc Short, the former chief of staff for Pence, told NewsNation host Adrienne Bankert that he expects a decision in the coming weeks on whether Pence will join the presidential campaign for 2024.
New Hampshire figures to be the first primary in the Republican presidential nomination cycle and the former vice president decided to take a more aggressive approach, not only calling out Trump but also Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for his comments this week calling the war in Ukraine a “territorial dispute.”
“Let me be very clear, the Russian invasion is not a territorial dispute. It was an act of unprovoked aggression against a sovereign nation. And it must be met with America’s strength,” Pence said.
Trump commented on Pence’s new aggressive approach, saying, “I guess he figured that being nice is not working. But, you know, he’s out there campaigning. And he’s trying very hard. And he’s a nice man; I’ve known him; I had a very good relationship until the end.”
Later on Friday, Trump will host a Lincoln Day dinner at Mar-a-Lago, expected to use the event for more campaign talk. Earlier this week, on the heels of other criticisms from Pence about Jan. 6, Trump told reporters while in Iowa that he believed Pence was to blame for the riot.
At the event on Thursday, Pence declined to say if Trump should leave the 2024 race if he gets indicted, possibly as soon as next week, in a hush money investigation, saying everyone can make their own decisions.
Short said he doesn’t think Pence speaking against Trump will impact Americans’ views of him, explaining that people know that Pence supported a lot of great policies that have helped the American people.
“I think that Americans know that Vice President Pence stood next to Donald Trump and advanced so many great policy victories for the American people from what we did to secure the border to address the threat that China poses to tax relief,” Short said. “I think they know his record.”
Short called Jan. 6 a “very tragic day for the American people,” saying that he thinks the American people look for leaders who are going to stand up and defend the Constitution as they swear an oath to do.
“The great thing about this is the voters get to decide and they’ll get to know the candidates more in the coming months,” Short said.
The former vice president is scheduled to visit Iowa on Saturday, which will likely kick off the presidential primary season next year for Republicans.
NewsNation writer Devan Markham contributed to this report.