Briefing

Is Mike Pence going to run for president?

He's already checked off the requisite political memoir…

Former Vice President Mike Pence's promotion of his new memoir So Help Me God has generated renewed speculation about his political future. Is Pence going to challenge his former running mate for the White House in 2024? Here's what you need to know:

Is Pence planning to run for president in 2024?

Pence's recent press tour for his book coincided with Trump's official declaration of his intent to run for president again in 2024. Pence made headlines for breaking his silence on the Jan 6. insurrection, and for offering his take on Trump's role in inciting the mob. While the former VP hasn't formally announced plans to run in 2024, some of his answers to the press hint that he's at least considering the possibility. 

In a Nov. 14 interview for ABC's' World News Tonight, for example, David Muir asked Pence if he believed he could defeat Trump if they faced off in the primaries. Pence replied: "Well, that would be for others to say, and it'd be for us to decide whether or not we'd want to test that." When asked if he would run for president in 2024, Pence said his family was giving the question "prayerful consideration."

Pence doubled down on this answer during a CNN town hall event hosted by Jake Tapper. When asked about Trump's announcement, Pence said he believed there would be "better choices." When Tapper questioned whether he considered himself one of those better options, Pence told him, "I'll keep you posted," reiterating that his family will have "prayerful consideration to what role we might have." 

Pence further stirred rumors that he is eyeing a 2024 bid while touring the country on behalf of Republican candidates during the midterm elections. He made multiple appearances in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada — the first states to vote for the GOP presidential nomination, per Fox News. Pence's attempts to forge political relationships in the early-voting primary states represent an action that Fox says "often precedes the launch of an actual White House campaign."

How does Pence rank among the potential GOP candidates?

With Trump officially in the running, many pundits are speculating about who could run against him in the GOP primary. Recent polls show Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has emerged as one of the top contenders, but that hasn't eliminated Pence as an option. Pence remains high on The Washington Post's ranked list of the top 10 potential candidates for the GOP, holding onto a third-place spot behind DeSantis and Trump.

While Pence has openly criticized Trump's actions on Jan. 6, both in his memoir and during his press tour, many of his statements are also peppered with praise for his time in the Trump-Pence administration. He went as far as to call Trump's choice of words on Jan. 6 "reckless," but overall appeared hesitant to separate himself entirely from the Trump-Pence administration's legacy. While he admitted Trump "endangered me and my family and everyone at the Capitol building," he also has plenty of positive takeaways from their time together. 

Pence's careful attempts to toe the line between bashing Trump and reminiscing about the good times indicates the core problem he could face if he decides to run, the Post says. To be successful, Pence will "need lots of Trump backers to forgive him for the sin of not overturning American democracy." While many conservatives have begun to separate themselves from Trump, Pence "probably needs the party to break with Trump much more completely to have a shot," per the Post.

In a recent Politico/Morning Consult poll, Pence was the only potential GOP candidate besides the two top runners, Trump and DeSantis, to get at least 5 percent of the vote. Among the likely Republican primary voters surveyed, 7 percent said they would support Pence in the primaries. However, he came in a distant third to Trump's 45 percent and DeSantis' 30 percent. "It's not a matter of when Republicans are ready to turn on Trump," one aide told The Atlantic in 2018. "It's about when they decide they're ready for President Pence."

What does Pence think of Trump running for re-election in 2024?

With the release of his memoir coinciding with Trump's "special announcement" about 2024, Pence was questioned several times about his thoughts on his former running mate's campaign. Without directly speaking against Trump's bid, Pence has alluded to there being "better choices" for a candidate in a number of interviews. 

When asked during his interview with ABC if his former boss should ever serve as president again, Pence replied, "I think that's up to the American people. But I think we'll have better choices in the future. People in this country actually get along pretty well once you get out of politics. And I think they want to see their national leaders start to reflect that same, that same compassion and generosity of spirit. And I think, so in the days ahead, I think there will be better choices."

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