In Indiana, Mike Pence rebukes Trump, announces plan to ‘restore’ federalism

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Former Vice President and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence delivers remarks at the National Conference of State Legislatures' Legislative Summit, the nation's largest annual gathering of state lawmakers, Aug. 16, 2023 (Peter Blanchard/IBJ photo)

During a stump speech in his home state Wednesday, former Vice President Mike Pence announced a plan to “restore and revive federalism,” including the abolishment of the U.S. Department of Education, the return of block grant funding to states and the repeal of Obamacare mandates.

Speaking in downtown Indianapolis at the National Conference of State Legislatures’ Legislative Summit, the country’s largest annual gathering of state lawmakers, the former Indiana governor outlined a five-point plan to give greater authority to states over everything from education and elections to infrastructure and health care.

“It’s important to remember that states created the federal government. The federal government didn’t create the states,” Pence told a crowd of state lawmakers, policymakers and GOP supporters, echoing remarks made by one of his idols, former President Ronald Reagan. “I believe that all of us in the Republican Party hold the keys to the story of America, and I believe that reviving limited government and restoring and reinvigorating federalism in America is a key to a boundless American future.”

Pence also took aim at the Biden administration, noting that this week marks the second anniversary of the country’s botched withdrawal from Afghanistan, an event that he said has “weakened America at home and abroad.”

His visit comes as former President Donald Trump faces a new set of criminal charges in his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Trump was charged in Fulton County, Georgia, with 13 counts, including violating the state’s racketeering act, soliciting a public officer to violate their oath, conspiring to impersonate a public officer, conspiring to commit forgery in the first degree and conspiring to file false documents.

The White House has been reticent to comment about the fourth indictment against Trump for fear of playing into the GOP’s claims of a weaponized Department of Justice, but Pence hasn’t been shy about his disagreement with his former boss over whether Pence had the authority to overturn the 2020 election results.

“Despite what the former president and his allies have said … the Georgia election was not stolen, and I had no right to overturn the election on Jan. 6,” Pence said Wednesday.

He also praised Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, who on Tuesday insisted that elections in Georgia are “secure, accessible, and fair and will continue to be.”

But when asked by a New Hampshire lawmaker whether, as president, he would pardon Trump if he were convicted on criminal charges, Pence declined to answer the question.

Despite now facing four criminal indictments, Trump remains the overwhelming favorite to win the GOP nomination, with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, once thought to be the party’s next torchbearer, a distant second, according to polls.

Pence will take part in the first GOP presidential debate in Milwaukee next week, though it took him longer than most of the other candidates to reach the 40,000 individual donor threshold. It’s unclear if Trump will make an appearance, but Pence said he would welcome the opportunity to debate his former running mate.

“I’ve debated Trump a thousand times, just not with the cameras on,” Pence said. “I do hope he comes.”

Other candidates that will take the stage Wednesday include Ohio entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, former South Carolina Gov. and U.S. ambassador Nikki Haley, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

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23 thoughts on “In Indiana, Mike Pence rebukes Trump, announces plan to ‘restore’ federalism

    1. Mike was a terrible governor, is a religious extremist, and I’d never vote for him.

      But do give him credit – he finally stood up to Trump and saved the Republic, at least for a moment, when asked to do otherwise … at the cost of his political career. Somewhere in there, under all the machinations, he decided to obey his oath to the Constitution and did the right thing when it was the hard thing.

      For that, he should be commended. I just don’t think he’s realizes that was God’s plan for his life, yet.

    2. Mike Pence is conservative. However, his religious views are still perfectly in sync with about 30% of the country population, possibly more. If we looked back 40 years, his religious views were in sync with a majority of the population.

      Now that we’re so advanced that we don’t have need for such religiosity, he’s an “extremist”–all while the people pushing us toward “social progress” are normalizing open street defecation and medical experimentation on children.

      Imagine thinking you “stand on the side of the constitution” as you mimic the actions of fill-in-the-blank Banana Republic by seeking to create a one-party state. Civil War is gonna be so, so justified when it finally happens.

      The Dixiecrats of yesteryear were utterly convinced of their moral, intellectual, and cultural superiority and thus saw their election meddling as righteous and fully justified. The party hasn’t changed one iota.

    3. If you’re just gonna copy/paste the latest nonsense as said by Steve Bannon, at least give him the credit.

      Lauren, I simply don’t understand what it is about fascism that you find so desirable. Of all the people to be your Dear Leader, you want Donald Trump to lead your Christian Fascist movement.

  1. I agree with Joe B, I give him credit for only 1 thing…standing on the side of the constitution and not Trump. Other than that, not much good I can say about him.

  2. First, as mentioned above, kudos to Mike Pence for finally growing a bit of a backbone with regard to Trump.

    Actually Mike, other than the original 13 states, the federal government did create the remaining 37 states. So, 37 to 13. Almost three times more states created by the federal government than were around to create the federal government.

    Why is there a federal Department of Education? because states like Indiana do such a horrible job with education. It was an attempt to allow the federal government to supervise how federal funds were spent. DOE doesn’t do a good job? Let’s look at the Indiana Department of Public Education. Block grant programs tend to benefit favored businesses and consultants, not just in education.

    Does Pence really want to talk about state supervision of infrastructure? Or health care? Indiana under his and subsequent Republican administrations has some of the most expensive health care in the nation. Indiana hospitals routinely produce high expense and poor results in the federally sponsored evaluations. So let’s fix that by making sure the feds can’t do those studies any longer, or withhold funding from low-achieving hospitals. Yeah, that will make things better. Anyone driven in adjacent states lately? Stopped in a rest area? Better roads, better infrastructure all around us. Yeah, let’s give Indiana more control over a failing system.

    So yeah, let’s permit the states more leeway in their seemingly on-going campaign to provide poor services. That will drive success and economic growth…

    1. Mike wants to forget about the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendment to the constitution that were passed explicitly to move more power to the Federal government after, several states, under the old system decided that people were property. So even if the original 13 colonies didn’t approve of a strong federal government, a whole bunch of states did decide.

      Typical Republican Platform, tear down government and make sure the rich get richer. Move the money to the top 1% and then make sure nobody is left to enforce fair rules. If you want to make America great again, lets go back to the policies that worked form 1933 to 1981, and boot the idea of trickle down once and for all.

  3. Although I don’t care for his most extreme convictions, other than Nikki Haley he is the most qualified person on either side of the aisle running for President. I’m glad to see him take on the Donald.

    1. Nikki Haley is as worthless as Mike Pence. Chop off her hair and put on an eye patch and she’s metaphorically Dan Crenshaw.

      It’s so hilarious watching Indy’s frothing outraged lefties still thinking they have a moral backbone supporting them when they’re looking for someone like Pence as their inspiration.

      2024 will be bloody. As it should. But since most violence is already coming from the party that supports open criminality, sterilization of teenagers, and aborts its children–we should just allow the death cult to continue to do what it does best.

      Froth away.

  4. “Pence also took aim at the Biden administration, noting that this week marks the second anniversary of the country’s botched withdrawal from Afghanistan,”…..

    This sentence should include “that the trump administration negotiated”.

    1. Trump didn’t negotiate that botched exodus. Thirteen service members were killed by a suicide bomber thanks to Biden’s blunders.

  5. and maybe further, a withdrawal the Trump Administration negotiated, then failed to conduct any planning to effectuate the withdrawal scheduled for about 100 days from the end of the Trump Administration. Literally, no planning. Agreed withdrawal was BY May 1, 2021. Biden Admin took office January 20, 2021. Agreement was to be gone by May 1, not to start withdrawing May 1. Biden extended to August, because there were no plans in place. That withdrawal wasn’t on Biden…it was on Trump. Trumps military leadership did nothing to prepare for a February/March/April withdrawal. Military leaders advised Biden the Afghan government’s army could hold off the Taliban…and those soldiers deserted in droves. Mike Pence opined it all would have been good if Biden had just stuck with the original date, a date for which Trump and Pence failed to plan. Au Contraire, Mr. Pence.

    1. More predictable partisanship from the pretend moderate Tim. We have no way of knowing what that withdrawal would have looked like under #45. It may indeed have been a botched. But it didn’t happen under his timeline and it didn’t happen under his leadership.

      And in the meantime, how many billions are being siphoned by the Clown Prince of Ukraine? At the very least, when Zelenskyy does his pen1s-piano-playing schtick, now he can at last afford a Bosendorfer.

    2. Remember there was no planning because tRump refused to start the turn over process. It was a situation that was designed to fail, BY tRump, and here you are years later still blaming Biden. I guess it worked.

  6. He was a terrible governor and Indiana has not recovered from his botched response to the HIV outbreak in southern Indiana or RFRA. Add on the horrific abortion ban, continued attempts to funnel money away from private into parochial schools and we are left with his only saving grace – that he grew a pair after 4 years of pandering to Trump.

  7. I don’t think anyone but Pence and his right wing cronies want an all out abortion ban. It’s despicable that they do. Republicans need to back off that completely and do it NOW. Just having Pence on the stage hurts conservatives.

    1. Correct. I don’t really want an all-out abortion ban and would vote against it if there ever was a referendum. The first trimester remains a perfectly reasonable range for which we absolutely should strive to defend a woman’s bodily autonomy. Pence, Holcomb, and the other neo-cons are actually going more extreme so that they can try to shake more independents away from MAGA…because they still prefer Chuck and Nancy over MAGA.

      But let’s remember that there are six states (and growing) that really do have abortion up to the end of the third trimester. The most extreme pro-abortion laws in the entire world.

      This “reactionary” approach from the pro-life right didn’t come from a vacuum.

    2. And if you live in Indiana, you live in a state where the Democrats proposed a 15 week ban which was voted down. And a state in which Indiana Right to Life fought every single meager accommodation in Indiana’s law.

      Of course, you know that the vast majority of late term abortions are being done by women who want to have babies, but are medically unable or are carrying a baby that will not survive birth. All you’re asking for is that they be forced to risk death because that unborn fetus is more valuable to a bunch of religious extremists right until it exits the birth canal, and that newly born child will go back to being not cared about about one whit by the “pro-life” folks.

      93% of abortions are done in the first 15 weeks, which is exactly what Republicans are now pushing since they’ve realized they’re on the wrong side of the issue. All this nonsense for a meager number of less abortions, when far more could have been accomplished if those pro-life folks had been practical and looked at better birth control. However, that doesn’t fit with the Catholic extremists that many of them are.

      It’s so tired, Lauren. So very tired. But go on tiling at those windmills.

  8. Mike is struggling to be relevant, in a crowded field of people who don’t have the intestinal fortitude to stand up to the scrutiny required to be President!

    Mike would have pulled a Joe Hogsett, if he had to endure the scrutiny that Trump has encountered.

  9. Well, Lauren B., I’m not a pretend moderate. But I suppose terms like “moderate”, “radical” and “reactionary” are in the eye of the beholder. So to you I might be a flaming liberal. But among those who know me, I’m perceived of as a moderate…I annoy both Trumpians and the Sanders/Warren/AOC folks, with equal enthusiasm.

    Now, what would a withdrawal under Trump have looked like? In part, we’ll never know because he was no longer in office. But based on the complete lack of preparation by the end of January, about 3 months from the negotiated withdrawal…yes, the withdrawal had been negotiated, it was now an operational issue for the US. And Trump would not allow his military to make the plans. The agreement was negotiated in February 2020. And nothing happened to plan for it until after January 2021. By which time there was no time to properly plan for an April 30 deadline. Simply put, there was no leadership by Trump. He negotiated an agreement that allowed the US to walk away without regard to its allies and employees in Afghanistan, and then did nothing to help make the withdrawal successful. He took the credit for the treaty which abandoned the Afghanis who believed in and relied upon the US, and left office without providing any leadership to those most impacted by his decision.

    As for the Ukraine comments, I’m so glad the French saw it in their best interest to support a rag tag bunch of revolutionaries way back in 1778. Or else we might not be here today to have these little chats. Democracy is always worth fighting for, and whatever the corruption issues in Ukraine prior to the invasion, those people had a democracy. The US was once upon a time the light on the hill, the defender of democracy. If Ukrainians are willing to fight and die for their country, we can support them with money and ordnance. We should always be the arsenal of democracy. On that point most of this country agreed after two world wars taught us what sitting on the sidelines ultimately cost our country.

    Or is that too much a liberal woke philosophy for today’s Trumpian Republican party?