NEW YORK (AP) — Former Vice President Mike Pence On Saturday, he abandoned his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, ending his campaign for the White House after struggling to raise money and gain ground in the polls.
“After much prayer and deliberation, I have decided to suspend my presidential campaign effective immediately,” Pence said at the Republican Jewish Coalition rally in Las Vegas. “We always knew it would be an uphill battle, but I have no regrets.” he said.
Pence becomes the first major candidate to leave a race dominated by his former boss-turned-rival, Donald Trump.
This decision, more than two months before the Iowa caucuses on which he had staked his campaign, spares Pence the embarrassment of not qualifying for the third Republican primary debate, on November 8 in Miami.
But the withdrawal is a blow to a politician who spent years biding his time to become Trump’s most trusted lieutenant, only to become the scapegoat during his final days in office when Trump became convinced that Pence somehow had the power to overturn the results of the 2020 election. and keep both men in power – which is not something a vice president could do.
While Pence avoided a constitutional crisis by rejecting the plan, he drew the fury of Trump, as well as the anger of many Trump supporters who believed his lies and still consider Pence a traitor.
Among Trump’s critics, Pence was seen as an enabler who defended the former president at every turn and refused to criticize even Trump’s most indefensible actions.
As a result, an Associated Press-NORC Public Affairs Research Center found in August that the majority of American adults, 57 percent, viewed Pence negatively, and only 28 percent had a positive view.
Throughout his campaign, the former Indiana governor and congressman insisted that while he was well known to voters, he was not “well known” and set out to change that with an aggressive schedule including numerous stops at restaurants and Pizza Ranch restaurants.
Pence had bet on Iowa, a state with a large white evangelical population that has a long history of promoting religious and socially conservative candidates such as former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Pennsylvania Gov. Rick Santorum . Pence has often campaigned with his wife, Karen, a Christian teacher, and has highlighted his hardline stances on issues such as abortion, which he opposes even in cases where a pregnancy is not viable. He has repeatedly called on his fellow candidates to support a national ban of at least 15 weeks and has pushed for a ban on drugs used as alternatives to surgical procedures.
He attempted to confront his actions on January 6, 2021 head-on, repeatedly explaining to voters that he fulfilled his constitutional duty that day, knowing full well the political consequences. It was a strategy that aides believed would help defuse the problem and earn Pence the respect of a majority of Republicans, whose actions they were convinced did not agree with. of Trump.
But even in Iowa, Pence struggled to gain traction.
He had an equally difficult rise with donors, despite years of relationships. Pence finished September with just $1.18 million in the bank and $621,000 in debt, according to his latest campaign filing. That debt number has likely grown in the weeks since, and it will apparently take years for Pence, who is not independently wealthy, to pay it off.
The Associated Press first reported after the filing that people close to Pence began thinking he had to choose whether remaining a candidate could potentially diminish his long-term standing in the party, given the position of Trump.
Some said Hamas’ attack on Israel in October, which brought foreign policy to the forefront of the campaign, gave Pence a new sense of duty, given his warnings throughout the campaign against growing wave of isolationism within the Republican Party. Pence had argued that he was the most experienced candidate in the race and denounced “voices of appeasement” among Republicans, arguing that they had emboldened groups such as Hamas.
Pence is expected to stay engaged, in part through Advancing American Freedom, the conservative think tank he founded after leaving the vice presidency. He envisions it as an alternative to the Heritage Foundation.
Pence’s group is expected to continue defending policies he supported during his campaign, including calling for increased U.S. support for Ukraine’s defense against Russian invasion and proposing security reductions social security and health insurance to curb the debt. Such ideas were once the bread and butter of establishment Republican orthodoxy, but they fell out of favor as the party embraced Trump’s isolationist and populist turns.