In a video broadcast on Wednesday, he formally launched his campaign for the Republican nomination for president, former vice president Mike Pence declared that “the best days of the greatest nation on earth are yet to come.”
Pence, who served four years with then-President Donald Trump, is heard saying in the video, “Different times call for different leadership,” made public on Fox News and Twitter hours before a kickoff ceremony in Des Moines.
Abraham Lincoln once observed, “Today, our party and our nation need a leader who will appeal to the better angels of our nature.”
Although he acknowledges that it would be “simple to stay on the sidelines,” he continues, “That’s not how I was raised. That is why I’m declaring my candidacy for president of the United States today in front of God and my family.
With Pence’s entry, the GOP field is essentially set. It includes Donald Trump, who is currently in the lead in the early polls,Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is still in second place; former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley; South Carolina Senator Tim Scott; former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie; former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, and North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, who also announced his candidacy on Wednesday.
Pence is launching a campaign to make him the first vice president in modern history to challenge his former running partner, pinning his presidential ambitions on Iowa.
The party’s willingness to support a socially conservative, well-mannered, and devoutly religious candidate who has repudiated the populist tide that has swept through his party under Trump will also be tested by Pence’s candidacy.
It will also reveal if Pence will still be in office on January 6, 2021, when a sizable majority of GOP voters would still buy into Trump’s claims that the 2020 election was rigged and that Pence had the authority to overturn the victory of Democrat Joe Biden.
The state of Iowa, which will cast the first ballots of the Republican primary calendar, is essential to Pence and his aides regarding his probable road to the nomination.
Many evangelical Christians who participated in its caucuses believe that Pence, a social conservative who supports a national abortion ban and frequently discusses his faith, is best suited to win their support.
They also think Pence, having served as governor and a representative of Indiana in Congress, is a strong fit for the Midwest nation.
“We believe the path to victory runs through Iowa and all of its 99 counties,” said Scott Reed, co-chair of a super PAC established last month to help Pence’s campaign.
Traditionally, Iowa has been viewed as a launchpad for presidential candidates, giving aspirants who succeed or defy expectations momentum, funding, and attention. However, recent winners like Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, and Ted Cruz could not get the nomination.
Pence, too faces formidable obstacles.
He is among the most well-known Republicans running in the crowded GOP field. Pence, meanwhile, who is viewed as a traitor by Trump supporters and perceived as involved with his most egregious conduct, is also burdened with high unfavorable ratings.
In a study conducted by CNN last month, 45% of Republicans and independents leaning Republican said they would never back Pence. About Trump, only 16% agreed.
According to a poll by The Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa, Pence’s favorability has likewise decreased in Iowa.
In June 2021, after Pence left office, 86% of Iowa Republicans rated him favorably. But according to the Register’s March Iowa Poll, that number had fallen to 66%. Pence received more negative feedback from respondents in the poll than any other candidate, including Trump and DeSantis, with 26% of Republicans polled expressing a “somewhat” or “very” unfavorable opinion of him.
And only 58% of Iowa’s evangelicals indicated they thought favorably of Pence, which is particularly surprising given the approach used by his campaign.
But Pence, who has already made over a dozen trips to Iowa since leaving office, has also been well-received by voters. Pence was the only candidate at a “Roast and Ride” event over the weekend that drew a long list of 2024 contenders because he mounted a Harley and took part in the event’s annual motorcycle ride. He strolled comfortably from table to table at the state fairgrounds BBQ, greeting and chit-chatting with guests as he went.