The AP Interview: Pence says voters want new leadership

NEW YORK (AP) — Former Vice President Mike Pence Voters are “looking for new leadership” after disappointing midterm elections, said Wednesday For Republicans, now openly debating whether his one-time boss, Donald TrumpA leading role in the party should be maintained.

In an interview with The Associated Press hours after Trump announced another White House run, Pence declined to say whether he thought the former president would be fit to return to his old job. But he has implicitly positioned himself as a potential alternative to Republicans seeking conservative leadership without the chaos of the Trump era.

“I think we’ll have a better choice in 2024,” Pence said. “I’m sure Republican primary voters will choose wisely.” He and his family gather during the holidays and we prayerfully consider what our role might be in the days ahead.

Asked if he blamed Trump for Republican losses this week, he said, “Certainly the president’s continued efforts to bring back the last election played a role, but … each candidate is responsible for their own campaign.”

Pence, while considering a presidential campaign On his own, he has raised his profile as he promotes his new memoir, “So Help Me GodReleased on the same day Trump officially announced his long-teased White House bid. If Pence moves on, he’ll be in direct competition with Trump, an especially awkward matchup for the former vice president, who has spent his four years defending Trump by refusing to publicly criticize him after Jan. 6, 2021..

That’s when Pence presided over the ceremony to certify Democrat Joe Biden’s victory, when a mob of Trump supporters — spurred on by Trump’s lie that Pence could somehow overturn the election results — stormed the Capitol building. “Hang Mike Pence!” As some of the mob shouted, the Vice President was taken to safety with his staff and family.

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On Wednesday, however, Pence largely refrained from criticizing Trump beyond the rant. That hesitation reflects the reality that the former president remains overwhelmingly popular with the GOP base, which Pence must win over to be competitive in the primaries.

“It’s not exactly the presidency that I would have gone forward with if the vote had been in the first name,” Pence said of his partnership with Trump. “But it was his presidency and I was there to support him and help him. Until that fateful day in January 2021, I tried to do it.

Pence said he had not watched Trump’s entire announcement speech Tuesday, but it appeared voters were looking for a new, less controversial direction.

“You know, the president has every right to run for re-election,” he said. But after campaigning across the country with the midterm candidates, “I have a real sense that the American people are looking for new leadership that can unite our country around our highest ideals and reflect the respect and civility that the American people have for one another. Today, we are still carrying forward the policies we carried during that tenure,” he said.

Trump’s campaign launch comes as Republicans struggle in the polls, failing to wrest control of the Senate and on course to win only the narrowest of majorities in the House. The results came amid deep concerns among voters about inflation and the direction of the country under Democrat Biden.

Trump endorsed a long list of candidates in competitive states, including Pennsylvania and Arizona, who later lost their general election races. While Pence said he was glad Republicans took over the House, he acknowledged the election “wasn’t the red wave we all expected.”

“My conclusion,” he said, “is that the candidates who focused on the future, focused on the challenges facing the American people today, and the solutions to those challenges worked well.” But those still questioning the 2020 results — as Trump urged — “didn’t.”

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In his new book, Pence wrote in detail about his experience on Jan. 6, which he described Wednesday.

“I will never forget the anger I felt that day when we were gathered in the loading dock below the Senate chamber and saw the footage on cell phones. I couldn’t imagine not this, not here, not in America.” He said.

In the interview, he recalled his response to Trump’s tweets “directly criticizing me at a time when a riot was brewing in the Capitol.”

“The president’s words were reckless, and they put my family and everyone in the Capitol building in danger,” he said. “The President had decided to be part of the problem. I was determined to be part of the solution.

However, when asked what consequences Trump should face for his actions, Pence said:

“It’s up to the American people,” he said he believes. “I really do. Look, I’ve always been proud of the Trump administration’s record over four and a half years. President Trump is not just my president. He was my friend. We worked closely to advance the policies we were elected to serve. “

“It didn’t end well,” he admitted with understatement. “Also, that tragic day in January will always make me very sad, sad about what happened to our relationship, and the bad advice I received from a group of presidential lawyers, as I write in my book, should never have been allowed in the Oval Office, let alone the White House grounds. “

Pence and Trump have always been an odd couple — a pugilistic, gruff New York celebrity and a staunch Middle Eastern evangelist who once wrote an essay about the evils of negative publicity and says, as a rule, he never dines alone with a woman. Not his wife. Asked why he spoke so rarely when Trump launched deeply personal insults against people like the late Sen. John McCain, Pence said, of course, that’s what he signed up for.

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“As his vice president, I believed it was my role to be loyal to the president,” he said. “So every step of the way, the way I squared it, I believe I was elected vice president to support the presidency-elect of Donald Trump going forward.”

In fact, Pence wrote in the book that even after Jan. 6, “the two men parted amicably as our service to the nation came to an end.”

“In the following weeks, he would call me from time to time to talk and check in,” Pence said in the interview. “But when he came back to criticize me and others who upheld the constitution that day, I decided it was best to go our separate ways. And we have.”

Asked why he parted ways “amicably” with Trump over the president’s actions — including his decision not to call Pence to check on his security while the riots were unfolding — Pence said he believed the president was genuinely sorry when they first met. Time after 6th.

“We sat and talked for the rest of the 90 minutes. I dealt with the President very directly. I explained to him that I believe I did my duty that day, and I sensed genuine remorse on his part,” Pence recalled. “The President and I had not only developed a good working relationship but also a friendship for four and a half years. We worked together literally every day. But he was different at that time. I encouraged him to take this matter to prayer.

As for his plans for the future, as everyone asks if he plans to run, he and his family will gather over the holidays “and we’ll prayerfully consider what our role might be in the days ahead.”

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