Pence condemns Donald Trump in Washington speech – Not only did the former vice president deliver his strongest condemnation to date of the man he shared the White House with for four years, but went against Tucker Carlson’s new counter-narrative about January 6.
Mike Pence Finally Declares War on Donald Trump
Former Vice President Mike Pence has not yet announced that he’s running for president in 2024, but he’s been hinting at it, and if he gets in the race, it will mark a rare instance of two members of a past presidential ticket running for president against each other. And if Pence is compelled to testify before a grand jury in the special counsel investigation, the Republican nomination contest may have one candidate serving as a witness against a different candidate.
Pence, in his recent book and in media appearances, has mostly stated that he believes there are better choices than Trump for president, but also that he’s proud of the things that were accomplished during the Trump Administration.
But over the weekend, Pence spoke at the Gridiron Dinner in Washington and was more critical of Trump than usual. And it was largely about January 6, when Pence refused to go along with Trump’s demand that he reject the certified electoral votes and prevent President Biden’s certification as president. The pro-Trump forces were later filmed chanting “hang Mike Pence.”
“President Trump was wrong,” Pence said at the dinner, as reported by the Associated Press. “I had no right to overturn the election. And his reckless words endangered my family and everyone at the Capitol that day, and I know history will hold Donald Trump accountable.”
Per CNN, Pence noted that January 6 was both “a tragic day” and “one thing I haven’t joked about.”
“Tourists don’t injure 140 police officers by sightseeing,” Pence said in the speech. “Tourists don’t break down doors to get to the Speaker of the House or voice threats against public officials.”
The comments were not only critical of Donald Trump but went against the counter-narrative about January 6 recently proposed by Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, based on security footage released to Carlson’s show by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
That other narrative implies that the generally observed facts about January 6, from the footage that aired live on television that day to evidence introduced in hundreds of criminal cases, are not true, and the insurrection was actually peaceful.
Pence had something to say about that, as well.
“Make no mistake about it, what happened that day was a disgrace,” Pence said in the Washington speech. “And it mocks decency to portray it any other way.”
“The American people have a right to know what took place at the Capitol on January 6, and I expect members of the fourth estate to continue to do their job,” Pence added.
If the conservative base in the Republican presidential primaries believes in large numbers that Carlson’s bogus narrative is true, that has the potential to hurt Pence’s chances in vying for the nomination, if he is saying the opposite.
Pence also made jokes, in the tradition of the Gridiron Dinner event, at one point taking a dig at Trump’s lack of religiosity.
“I read that some of those classified documents they found at Mar-a-Lago were actually stuck in the president’s Bible,” Pence said in the speech “Which proves he had absolutely no idea they were there.” Pence, however, has his own classified documents problem.
While it is a joke, this is potentially significant, as Pence has long been associated with the party’s Christian conservative wing and was widely seen as having been chosen as the vice presidential candidate in 2016 in order to deliver such voters to Donald Trump, a mine with much weaker conservative Christian bona fides.
Pence also drew some fire for joking that Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg had taken “maternity leave” when his twin children were born. The Washington Blade, an LGBTQ newspaper, ripped the comments as “homophobic.”
Expertise and Experience: Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.