In the end, Mike Pence’s decision to suspend his quixotic 2024 presidential bid in Las Vegas was a strangely fitting one; the incongruity of an evangelical Christian making his announcement to the Republican Jewish Coalition at their annual convention in a city that represents the antithesis of Pence’s teetotaling moralist persona is, in a way, similar to the incongruity of Pence’s broader campaign to represent a party under the thrall of a man whose supporters wanted Pence hanged just two years ago. That Pence would end his candidacy by acknowledging 2024 was simply “not my time” raises an obvious follow-up question: was it ever?
“There is a time for every purpose under Heaven.” After traveling the country the past six months, it has become clear…this is not my time. As we leave this campaign, we do so with grateful hearts. I will always be grateful for the opportunities my family and I have been given… pic.twitter.com/bsmc94LxjwOctober 28, 2023
With anemic polling numbers and moribund fundraising hauls, Pence’s campaign had been “DOA for months,” according to Politico, which called it “surprising” that former veep had held out for as long as he did “given the hostility he endured from Trump’s most ardent supporters.” If anything, Pence was caught in something of a “political no-man’s land,” The Dispatch reported, citing GOP strategist Brad Todd, who told the outlet that Pence’s ultimate failure wasn’t one of ideology, but because “he was too Trumpy for Trump’s detractors and not Trumpy enough for Trump’s admirers.”
Although that sort of political limbo may have been fatal for his presidential aspirations, it does not mean Pence is wholly without options for his future. With the re-ascendency of his former boss looking more and more likely by the day, Pence’s next steps as a non-candidate could end up being nearly as consequential as if he’d never dropped out to begin with.
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One thing Pence will most likely not do is follow his old boss’ advice and throw his weight behind Trump’s juggernaut of a campaign, In spite of Trump’s call for Pence to “endorse me” now that he’s out of the race (“You know why?” he told RJC conference attendees. “Because I had a great, successful presidency and he was the vice president”), Pence had predicted his entire run on rejecting Trump’s populist bombast, and seems unlikely to return to the MAGA fold anytime soon — especially after Trump conditioned his suggestion with the longtime critique that Pence was “very disloyal.”
President Trump on Mike Pence: “He should endorse me…because I had a great, successful presidency” pic.twitter.com/fnpH05ZId5October 29, 2023
If anything, Pence is now less encumbered to speak out against Trump where it matters — in court, MSNBC legal analyst Danny Cevallos predicted. Noting that Pence has “already provided evidence” for Special Counsel Jack Smith’s various investigations into the former president, Cevallos put the odds of Pence actively testifying against Trump at “high to almost a certainty,” with “absolutely nothing holding him back now.”
Blocking Trump politically, however, may be Pence’s most immediate concern. He is “considering his options” for a potential endorsement of one of his many GOP rivals, Time Magazine reported, saying he’s “likely to pray on the decision and consider who is most plausible to block Trump from the nomination.” To that end, his onetime adversaries have largely reacted to Pence’s exit by lauding the former veep, including Nikki Haley, “widely presumed to be the main beneficiary of Pence’s exit,” who praised Pence as a “good man of faith,” according to The Guardian. Florida Gov. Ron Desantis also hailed Pence as a “principled man of faith” while thanking the Pence family for “their willingness to put themselves forward in this campaign.”
What next?In the immediate future, Pence is likely focusing on the November 14 publishing date of his next book, “Go Home for Dinner,” a series of anecdotes on “how faith makes a family and family makes a life” co-authored with his daughter Charlotte. Pence is also expected to continue his political advocacy through his Advancing American Freedom think tank created after he left office as “an alternative to The Heritage Foundation,” The Associated Press reported.
Ultimately, Pence seemed to be campaigning more “for his place in the history books than the Iowa caucuses,” Politico said. With potential enforcement coming, and Trump’s federal trials looming, his departure from the race is “not likely the last time Pence will make news in the coming months.”
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