Ex-Vice President and current Congressman Mike Pence suspended his campaign more than two months before the first Republican primary election in 2024. This move shows how much the party has been influenced by Trump’s false statements regarding the 2020 race.
Trump supporters stormed the Capitol yelling “Hang Mike Pence!”, painting Pence as a traitor. Many Trump backers have smeared his name and scratched it out of their “Trump-Pence” yard signs and bumper stickers in protest.
Pence tried to thread an incredibly delicate needle by running on the record of the Trump-Pence administration while denouncing his former leader. He accused Trump of abandoning conservative ideals on topics such as abortion and of placing himself above the Constitution to stay in power. Pence defended his behavior on January 6 and said that Trump disqualified himself during that time during his campaign launch event on January 6. Conservative primary voters, however, chose not to support those candidates.
While a majority of Republicans and Independents think Trump did nothing wrong leading up to January 6, a poll conducted by the Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research indicated that 57% of Republicans still hold the view that Biden was illegally elected president. Despite this, many of those present loved and respected Pence but were still on the fence about voting for him.
Around the time of the second debate in September, Pence’s campaign, which had emphasized conventional conservative policies, was practically gone. Pence’s popularity or fundraising did not surge as expected after the first debate. By the time of the second debate, he was sitting on the very edge of the stage (a place relegated to the most unpopular candidates.)
Pence’s campaign finance report showed that he had spent nearly as much money as he was raising and had racked up debt of over $600,000. His calendar suddenly became curiously empty despite assurances from his staff that he could still qualify for the third debate.
Pence called senior supporters this past week to inform them of his decision to abandon the race. Retired Beverly Hills, California money manager Larry Post blamed Pence for his dilemma and suggested that the sixth of January had something to do with his lack of forward motion.
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, the most strident Trump opponent in the race, said it was a sign the field was finally winnowing.
Trump holds a massive lead heading into the primaries.