Former Vice President Mike Pence declined to say in a recent interview whether he would support a re-election bid by former President Donald Trump if the former president was the Republican nominee in 2024, the Washington Examiner reported.
It was the latest example of the severely frayed, if not irreparably broken, relationship between the two previously loyal partners and running mates following the aftermath of the 2020 election and subsequent Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
“I think we’ll have better choices”
Former Vice President Pence sat for an interview Wednesday with CBS News reporter Caitlin Huey-Burns and “twice declined to commit to supporting Trump” if Trump ended up being the GOP nominee in the next election cycle.
Asked if he would support the former president if he was the “standard-bearer” for the Republican Party, Pence replied, “Well, I think we’ll have better choices, and I really trust Republican voters to sort it out.”
WATCH: @Mike_Pence won’t commit to supporting Trump in 2024, says ‘I think we’ll have better choices’ https://t.co/scstnWy6MJ pic.twitter.com/PLf3lll97K
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) March 1, 2023
“And I’m confident our standard-bearer will win the day in November of that year,” Pence added, according to CBS News.
At another point in the interview, while acknowledging that voters had chosen “wisely” in 2016 to pick Trump over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, Pence seemed to imply that the same choice wouldn’t be so wise again in 2024 as “different times call for different leadership.”
No direct criticism of Trump
The Washington Examiner noted that Pence did not directly criticize Trump and, in fact, seemed to praise his former running mate with respect to the 2016 election and some of the conservative policy achievements they won over the four-year tenure in the White House.
“I just have great confidence in the American people. I don’t think anyone could have defeated Hillary Clinton in 2016 other than Donald Trump. And I didn’t realize that initially — I was supporting another candidate in the Indiana primary,” Pence said in reference to his endorsement of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).
The former VP added of his ex-boss, “Trump offered a change of leadership and in the kind of campaign that was able to take on the Clinton campaign machine that was decades in the making.”
However, CBS News also noted that while Pence refrained from directly criticizing Trump, he did go to great lengths to draw distinctions between the more traditional conservativism that he has championed as compared to the more populist variety espoused by Trump.
RNC to require loyalty pledge from candidates
This refusal by Pence, who is likely on the verge of announcing his own presidential candidacy, to commit to supporting Trump if Trump is the nominee, could place the former vice president afoul of the Republican National Committee and a loyalty pledge it is considering for all 2024 GOP candidates.
According to Axios, the probable pledge that was similarly in place in 2016 would require all candidates to sign an oath to support the eventual nominee if they wished to be included in any of the RNC’s 2024 primary debates.
In outlining the planned pledge during an appearance Sunday on CNN, RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel said, “Anyone getting on the Republican national committee debate stage should be able to say, ‘I will support the will of the voters and the eventual nominee of our party'” — and that would apply to all candidates, including Trump, who has also been non-commital about supporting a GOP nominee other than himself.