Mike Pence took a sharp jab at his former boss and potential future primary rival, Donald Trump, saying Republicans will have "better choices" than the former president in 2024.
Pence, who is expected to announce a run soon, told Fox News' The Story that Trump was the right man for the moment in 2016, but times have changed.
"I think nobody could have defeated Hillary Clinton in 2016 other than Donald Trump. But I think come 2024, our party will choose the right standard bearer to meet this moment, to strengthen America at home and abroad. And my family and I continue to reflect on what role we might play in that."
A rift has grown between the two men since the end of Trump's presidency. Pence has vocally criticized Trump over the January 6th Capitol riot, saying "history" will hold Trump "accountable."
If that's true, history is taking its sweet time. Riding a backlash over his unprecedented indictment, Trump has surged in the primary polls to his biggest leads yet, leaving rivals including Governor Ron DeSantis (R) in the dust.
Pence has generally ranked third, far behind DeSantis, who is widely seen as the only real threat to Trump from within the GOP, and Trump.
Asked for his take on Trump's surge, Pence dismissed it as a blip.
"Look, it’s early in this process. I do think we’ll have better choices," he said.
Pence doubled down on his criticism of Trump's populist style and isolationist foreign policy, particularly concerning Ukraine, during a Republican party retreat Friday.
“We must resist the temptation to put what is popular over what is wise, and resist the politics of personality and the lure of populism unmoored to timeless conservative values," Pence said.
But Pence was booed at an NRA conference where he and Trump both spoke on Friday. Trump joked about the incident during his speech.
"It's a big news story. You've made news today. I don't know what you did, but you made news today with the introduction you gave," he said.
Those looking for an alternative to Trump lost one of their options when his former Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, announced Friday that he would not pursue an anticipated run.