Pence emerges as appealing draw for some GOP candidates

Former Vice President Mike Pence speaks at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, on June 24. (Screenshot from speech)

In Donald Trump’s assessment, Mike Pence “committed political suicide” on Jan. 6, 2021.

By refusing to go along with the former president’s unconstitutional push to overturn the results of the 2020 election, Pence became a leading target of Trump’s wrath and a pariah in many Republican circles.

But the final weeks of the intensely competitive 2022 election suggest the former vice president’s fortunes have shifted as he lays the groundwork for his own potential campaign for the White House in 2024.

The man who was booed last year at a conservative conference is now an in-demand surrogate for Republican candidates, including some who spent their primaries obsessively courting Trump’s endorsement, in part by parroting Trump’s election lies.

Pence has been traveling the country, holding events and raising millions for candidates and Republican groups, including signing fundraising solicitations for party committees.

For some campaigns in tight races, Pence is seen as something of a neutralizing agent who can help broaden their appeal beyond Trump’s core base of support. That includes Arizona, with a key Senate race on Nov. 8 and what is expected to be a hotly contested stop in the 2024 presidential campaign.

Last week, Pence endorsed Senate nominee Blake Masters, who has struggled to pivot from the primary to win over moderates in a state where one-third of voters are registered independents.

“He takes a little bit of the edge off Masters with a lot of voters,” veteran GOP strategist Scott Reed said. “You know Masters is new to this, first time candidate, said some silly things he probably regrets during the campaign.”

Yet the endorsements can seem jarring given that Pence has spent much of the past year pushing back on Trump’s election lies, which spurred the violent mob that descended on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, while Pence was trying to preside over the formal congressional certification of Joe Biden’s presidential victory. Pence and members of his family had to be rushed to safety and held for hours in an underground loading dock as the marauders roamed the hallways, some chanting, “Hang Mike Pence!” and erected a makeshift gallows outside.

Masters, during the primary, baselessly denied the 2020 results, recording a video in which he said he thought Trump had won. Masters claimed on his website that, “if we had had a free and fair election, President Trump would be sitting in the Oval Office today.”

Trump said when he endorsed Masters in June: “Blake knows that the “Crime of the Century” took place, he will expose it and also, never let it happen again.”

Pence made no mention of that in Phoenix on Tuesday.

“What I came here to Arizona to say is not only is Blake Masters the right choice for the United States Senate, the people of Arizona deserve to know Blake Masters may be the difference between a Democrat majority in the Senate and a Republican majority in the Senate,” Pence said.

Pence, along with Masters and Gov. Doug Ducey, took just three questions, two of them from conservative websites. When a television reporter noted that Masters has questioned the 2020 election, a spokesman for Masters cut him off before he could finish his question.

Masters is not the only election denier Pence has endorsed or assisted.

Two days after the Masters event, Pence was in Georgia headlining a fundraiser for Burt Jones, the nominee for lieutenant governor. Jones not only embraced Trump’s claims of widespread election fraud and called for a statewide investigation into the 2020 race, but also signed on to be one of his state’s fake alternate electors — a scheme that is now under criminal investigation.

Last month, Pence campaigned in New Hampshire for Senate nominee Don Bolduc, a retired Army general who also spent his primary campaign telling voters the 2020 race was stolen from Trump.

Marc Short, a longtime Pence adviser, declined to set a red line for candidates Pence would and would not endorse.

“It’s more about making sure that he’s being a team player where he needs to be,” he said. “I think as a lot of these candidates look to solidify the party behind them, Pence can be helpful.”

There is no evidence of any widespread fraud or manipulation of voting machines in the 2020 election, underscored by repeated audits, court cases and the conclusions of Trump’s own Department of Justice. Still, support of false election claims run deep among GOP candidates this year.

Short said Pence was happy to support candidates who had moved past 2020, as he has urged the party to do.

“If people sort of acknowledged a mistaken position before, he certainly wants to reward that,” said Short. “I think he wants to help conservatives first and foremost, but if people who were elected are now adopting new position about the events of Jan. 6,” he said, “then that’s a positive.”

Reed, the Republican strategist, said he wasn’t surprised by the candidates Pence had chosen to back.

“He’s a big picture party guy. And it doesn’t surprised me that he’s hustling as hard as he is for people who may not be 100% Pencers,” Reed said. “By doing these kinds of events,” he added, “they’re going to take another look at him if he decides to run.”

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20 thoughts on “Pence emerges as appealing draw for some GOP candidates

  1. Quote: By refusing to go along with the former president’s unconstitutional push to overturn the results of the 2020 election…

    Typical AP baloney.

    Trump sought, and rightfully so, to question certifying the results in a few key states where there was good evidence suggesting ballot harvesting and fraud, thanks to Democrat shenanigans to push the current dementia-addled idiot over the line and into office….the results of which we see every day when buying gas or groceries…and the unbridled hostilities of Putin and Kim Jong-un, which surely wouldn’t have happened had Trump been re-elected because they would rightfully fear what he might do.

    If that evidence, properly investigated, had resulted in Trump having won necessary key states, so be it.

    To make a blanket statement about “an unconstitutional push to overturn the election” is misleading and wrong…but to be expected of the Trump-hating mainstream media.

    1. A T — LOL, your party is still financing the Jan 6 witch hunt, even as the lame-duck figurehead Liz Cheney is getting ready for her book deal as well as her “token peroxide conservative” seat on “The View”.

      How many hundreds of millions did the American people shell out to finance the Mueller investigation? How many millions more for Jan 6?

      And yet the media likes to claim that Hunter Biden is unfairly targeted and would swim through investigations if he were a trump child… Hilarious. He swam through 2020 while the legacy media did everything to downplay his eagerness to sell out the nation on behalf of “the big guy”.

      Pretending the entire establishment isn’t overwhelmingly skewed to one side–joke news sites like the AP throw a bone to has-beens like Mike Pence.

      70% of Americans don’t trust the media on bit. Gosh I wonder why.

    2. Lauren – Mike Pence is a has been but is also the most sought after Republican to appear at events around the country?

      COGNITIVE DISSONANCE – as every trumper loved to yell in 2018…

    3. Adorable, thinking that the legacy media is the voice of authority on this matter.

      I wasn’t aware: does a nobody at the Associated Press decide who the primary GOP candidates are? Hasn’t that gotten the uniparty into trouble before?

      Why are you so terrified of the peasants?

    4. Bob, he lost every single case at both the state and federal level out of 60+ cases – just one exception on a technicality that had no impact on the vote count. There was no *good* evidence of fraud.

    1. IBJ is nearly as ideologically captured as all the others. Given that AP and Washington Post (IBJ’s preferred publications) are no better than Breitbart and Fox News, why not cite from Breitbart and Fox News.

      Business journals are just eager to defend that swampy deep state that picks winners and losers, and bases its winners on the donor class.

  2. Wow, the MAGAs on here are going crazy. Trump obviously had the right to contest election results from various states. His lawyers filed lawsuits in multiple states, brought their cases before judges (many of which were appointed by Trump), and had their cases rejected because they lacked evidence. Arizona and Georgia both had full Republican control in their state governments, so you can’t say the Democrats rigged the election somehow. Guess what people? A lot of voters are disgusted by Trump and didn’t want him in office. That’s why he lost.

    After that, Trump continued claiming the election was stolen. He brought his supporters to DC on Jan 6 to get them to intimidate Congress and Pence into illegally overturning the election results. He then waited multiple hours to do anything as his supporters were destroying the Capitol. It’s sad that you guys are so brainwashed that you consider this reporting biased.

    1. Hi Lauren, I left Indiana a few years ago. I was quite sick of dealing with the segment of the population that thinks similarly to you. I still own a couple apartments Downtown that are renting at record prices. Apparently it’s not the disgusting place you make it out to be. Supply would be high and demand low if that were the case.

    2. What a relief Wesley!

      Actually, I recall you moving out West.

      Now you don’t have to be subject to thought-criminals like me…AND…you get the added benefit of living in a place where pooping and shooting up are even more culturally accepted.

      Win-win for you!

      Downtown may not be the disgusting place I make it out to be, but it’s still clearly too disgusting to host a Starbucks right at Monument Circle that had been there for probably close to 20 years. And yes, it was “citing employee and customer safety concerns”: https(colon)//www(dot)indianapolismonthly(dot)com/food-and-drinks/the-feed-thunderbird-sweetgreen-and-more

      It’s a shame. Monument Circle was a thriving place just five years ago. How quickly things fall. How long do you think downtown can sustain these conditions before people start giving up on the apartment market? It’s a lagging indicator, as long as the apartments remain safe and secure, which is easy to do. But if there’s nothing left for the millennials to visit, why would they want to stay in India-no-place? Or any other downtown for that matter?

      What do you think the BEST way is for your Antifa friends–who totally absolutely don’t exist and are a figment of rightwingers’ imaginations–to deface small businesses? Is graffiti or arson the way to go?

  3. Vice President Pence served well in very difficult circumstances created by Trump’s follies. Without him, Trump would have never been elected to begin with and in true Trump fashion he threw him under the bus…difficult to believe anyone supports his continued lies. Keep going Mr. Pence!!

    1. ‘Not saying it will or won’t happen with Pence, John M., but were you alive when Richard Nixon made his comeback…all the way to the Presidency?

    2. This is a rare moment in which Bob and I align; I wouldn’t write Pence off. There’s plenty of historical precedent for a VP to come back as President, even several terms away, and Pence is far less (publicly) aggressive than Nixon was.

      That being said, I wouldn’t blame him if he decided to retire. If a rioting mob had broken into my place of work and called for my hanging, I’d probably retire too.

    3. Hilarious watching the leftists rally behind Pence, which, of course is really them rallying behind the uniparty, where the “defeat with dignity” losers like Pence pretend they actually stand for something while continuing to give more ground to neo-Dixiecrats. Cue the inevitable: “Lauren calls Mike Pence a loser because he accepts the 2020 election results”. Yes. I do.

      The neo-cons DO in fact stand for something: crony capitalism, warmongering, offshoring of good middle class jobs, and capitulation to the left on just about everything else. Which is why the leftists here like Pence so much. He’s a bona fide Xtian, I’ll grant that–he also would continue to wring his hands when the uniparty shreds the Bill of Rights to outlaw religion. And I’m not a fraction as religious as he is, but I know how ineffectual he’d be.

      Mike Pence threw his weight behind one GOP candidate in Arizona (Karrin Taylor Robson); trump threw his behind Kari Lake. Lake won the GOP primary in all AZ counties.

      Sure, Pence is “appealing” to “some”.

    4. Where did anyone rally behind Pence? I just said I wouldn’t write him off; I would never vote for him again (did it once).

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