the former vice president Mike Pence said this Wednesday that the former president, and now a candidate for the Republican nomination for the White House, donald trumpdemanded on January 6, 2021 that he choose between him and the Constitution.
That day, as a crowd stormed the Capitol, Pence was preparing to certify the victory of Joe Biden, something that Trump considered a falsehood.
In his first candidacy speech for the Republican nomination in the 2024 election, Pence jumped at the opportunity to harshly criticize his former boss.
According to the former vice president, Trump is not fit to return to the White House and lacks democratic values.
“That January 6 was a tragic day in the life of our nation. But thanks to the courage of the forces of order, the violence was put down, we reconvened the Congress. (But) President Trump’s reckless words endangered my family and everyone on Capitol Hill,” Pence stressed.
And he stressed: “The American people deserve to know that on that fateful day, President Trump demanded that they choose between him and our Constitution. Now voters will face the same choice. I chose the Constitution, and I always will.”
Pence described his own actions that day in certifying Biden’s victory as a defining moment that demonstrated his courage, and Trump’s actions that day as disqualifying.
“The Republican Party should be the party of the Constitution of the United States,” the former vice president said to applause.
“Anyone who puts themselves above the Constitution should never be president,” he said, adding that “whoever asks someone else to put them above the Constitution should never be president again.”
Pence has potentially put himself in the position of having to support Trump, the frontrunner in the Republican Party, who has required other primary candidates to sign a pledge to support whoever is chosen.
In his hour-long speech, Pence focused on three issues to establish an ideological contrast with Trump: abortion, fiscal conservatism and foreign policy.
“When Donald Trump ran for president in 2016, he promised to govern as a conservative. And together we did exactly that,” he said, not mentioning the fact that the Trump-Pence administration added about $8 billion to the national debt.
“Today he makes no such promise,” he added. “After leading the most pro-life administration in American history, Donald Trump and others in this race are withdrawing from the cause of the unborn.”
But Pence attacked not only his former boss, but also the current Democratic president.
“Our country is in a lot of trouble,” he said in his nearly three-minute video announcement, accusing Biden and the “radical left” of undermining America “at home and abroad.”
Citing “galloping inflation,” a looming recession, a “besieged” southern border, “enemies of freedom” running amok in Russia, China “on the march” and what he calls an unprecedented assault on “timeless American values,” he promised to deliver what he said the nation badly needed.
“We are better than this,” he said. “We can change this country. But different times call for different leadership. Today, our party and our country need a leader who will attract, as Lincoln said, the better angels of our nature.
Cris Christie wants the same position
In turn, another former Trump ally, who has become a fierce critic of the former president, former New Jersey Governor Cris Christie, submitted his candidacy to the Republican primary.
In doing so, he said that Trump is “a bitter and angry man” and that “his time in office was a failure.”
This is the second run for Christie, who comes across as the person most willing to attack both Trump, his former friend turned adversary, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has ranked second in nearly every poll on the public Republican primaries for months.
“This family’s scam is impressive,” Christie said. “Awesome. Jared Kushner and Ivanka Kushner walk out of the White House and months later get $2 billion from the Saudis? That’s your money he stole,” she continued, saying, “That makes us a banana republic.”
For more than two hours, Christie also berated other Republicans in the race for being too timid to criticize Trump by name. Describing a recent appearance in Iowa by fellow 2024 presidential hopefuls, she mocked their euphemistic attacks on the former president.
I’m the only candidate who can take on Donald Trump and tell the truth.
Every other Republican thinks they can tiptoe around him. I don’t tiptoe.
Get me on stage and get your popcorn ready: https://t.co/6bndZTT9OO
—Chris Christie (@GovChristie) June 6, 2023
“We need a leader who looks forward, not back,” Christie said sarcastically. “I understand! You’re talking about the way the 2020 election was stolen. And you won’t say it wasn’t stolen.”
In previous appearances, Christie called Trump a loser due to his 2020 loss and said he was in no condition to return to the White House after inciting a mob to attack the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Christie has said that if Trump is the nominee, she will not vote for him, which belies a deal she must enter into with the Republican party.
“Let me be very clear,” he said. “I am going out to eliminate Donald Trump, but here is the reason: I want to win. And I don’t want him to win.”
Still, polls show Christie to be the most unpopular 2024 candidate among Republicans. The existential question for his career then is which voters will he appeal to.
Your campaign will depend heavily on media coverage and agility in traveling to places where you are most likely. New Hampshire is the state where you will start your campaign, but it will not necessarily be the place where you will establish your headquarters.