Former Vice President Mike Pence spoke at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition’s annual fall banquet in Des Moines Sept. 16, 2023. (Robin Opsahl/Iowa Capital Dispatch)
Former Vice President Mike Pence dropped out of the 2024 presidential race Saturday.
“It’s become clear to me, this is not my time,” Pence said at the Republican Jewish Coalition Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Pence launched his presidential bid in June at an Iowa event where he was criticizing his former running mate former President Donald Trump for his attempts to overturn election results following his loss to President Joe Biden in the 2020 election. Trump, the frontrunner in the race for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, “demanded I choose between him and the Constitution” during the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection, Pence told Iowans.
In suspending his campaign, Pence said Saturday that his team knew it would be an “uphill battle” to win the Republican presidential candidacy.
“But I have no regrets,” Pence said. “The only thing that would have been harder than coming up short would have been if we’d never tried it all.”
Pence was one of multiple GOP presidential candidates to announce ending their campaigns in recent days. Conservative radio host Larry Elder and Michigan businessman Perry Johnson both endorsed Trump as they suspended their campaigns this week, while former U.S. Rep. Will Hurd announced his endorsement of former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley as he exited the race earlier in October.
While the former vice president did not make an endorsement Saturday, he called for Republicans to nominate a “Republican standard-bearer” who can win the 2024 general election, and who can lead America “with civility.”
“The debate over America’s future role in the world is not confined to differences between the two parties,” Pence said. “I believe as we prepare to choose a standard-bearer for our party, the question will not merely be who, but what Republicans will offer America in 2024. Will Republicans continue to be the party of the traditional conservatives that has defined our movement over the past 40 years? Or will our party follow the siren song of populism, unmoored to conservative principles?”
Pence did not mention Trump by name in his speech, but said he was proud to serve in the most “pro-Israel administration in American history.”
He reflected on “how times have changed” since Biden took office. The former vice president, one of many presidential candidates addressing the crowd at the event, said that “America stands with Israel” in the conflict against Hamas in Gaza.
Israel has “no choice but to crush Hamas,” Pence said, in the conflict that began with the militant group in control of the Gaza strip in early October.
He denounced Biden for “pressuring, even threatening Israel to stay her hand” in the conflict. Israel launched a new ground campaign in Gaza Saturday, according to the AP, rejecting calls for a ceasefire. The United Nations passed a resolution Friday calling for a truce and to provide humanitarian aid to Palestinian civilians in Gaza after Israel cut off supplies of food, water, electricity and fuel into Gaza in the conflict.
As of Saturday, 7,700 Palestinians have been killed in the conflict, according to the Palestinian health agency in Gaza. More than 1,400 Israelis have been killed since Oct. 7 — a majority in the initial attack by Hamas.
“We should stand strong with Israel — no daylight between Israel’s position and ours,” Pence said. “And America should make it clear that there will be no aid delivered to Gaza until all hostages are free.”
Hamas leaders have said they will release all hostages if Israel frees all Palestinian prisoners. According to Reuters, a spokesman for the military wing of Hamas said Saturday that Israel has “stalled” negotiations on the potential trade.
Pence said some Republicans are saying America must choose between supporting its international allies and solving domestic problems, but that the U.S. must continue to hold its role as “leader of the free world.”
“So I urge you: embrace a generation of leaders who will continue America’s commitment to leadership at home and abroad,” Pence said. “It’s never been more important. And I promise you, wherever the Lord leads in the days ahead, I will do my part to ensure that now and always America stands with Israel.”
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