Another contestant in the GOP primary race has bowed out this weekend. Mike Pence announced on Saturday that he will withdraw from the 2024 Presidential race.
Not Pence’s Time
The former vice president said at the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas that “this is not my time.”
“We always knew this would be an uphill battle, but I have no regrets,” Pence wrote in a statement.
Pence’s campaign failed to gain much traction since his announcement in June of this year. He stood in the mid to low single digits in the latest surveys and his fundraising was meager. The former Indian governor barely reached the RNC fundraising threshold to qualify for the past two primary debates and failed to achieve the target for the third debate next week in Miami.
Pence told his audience at RJC’s annual leadership meeting, “The only thing that would have been harder than coming up short would have been if we’d never tried at all.”
Fierce Opposition to Mike Pence from the Start
Perhaps the most classically conservative candidate, Mike Pence resembles a Republican of a bygone era – one that has not survived in a more populist age.
It often earned him the RINO (Republican In Name Only) label from many on the right, along with the condemnation of a large swath of Trump loyalists for certifying the 2020 election results.
Trump himself condemned his underling for not overturning the results, even though Pence lacked the authority to do so.
“Mike Pence, I hope you’re going to stand up for the good of our Constitution and for the good of our country,” Trump said on January 6, 2021. “And if you’re not, I’m going to be very disappointed in you.”
Later he said, “So I hope Mike has the courage to do what he has to do, and I hope he doesn’t listen to the RINOs and the stupid people that he’s listening to.”
Trump devotees followed suit, making Pence enemy number one over the past couple of years.
Some rioters were heard chanting “hang Mike Pence” as they stormed the halls of Congress in 2021.
He has been booed many times on stage, notably at the first GOP primary debate when he called political newcomer, Vivek Ramaswamy a “rookie” and said to him that now is not the time for “on the job training.”
Mike Pence Stands Firm
Still, Pence stands firm, convicted in his beliefs.
“I am leaving this campaign, but I will never leave the fight for conservative values,” he wrote in a statement addressed to his supporters.
Pence did not endorse any other Republican candidate upon his withdrawal.
However, he did encourage Americans to choose a leader that “will ‘appeal to the better angels of our nature’ and not only lead us to victory but also lead our nation with civility and back to those time-honored principles that have always made America strong, prosperous and free.”
He urged the GOP to return to its conservative roots and resist what he’s repeatedly called the “siren song of populism,” brought about by his former boss.
This leaves seven candidates still in the running for the Republican nomination, six if you don’t count Asa Hutchinson who, although he did not qualify for the second GOP debate, has not declared he is ending his campaign. The only two Republicans that seem to have a realistic but slim shot against frontrunner Donald Trump are Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley.
Neither Trump nor DeSantis, who spoke after Pence at the RJC conference, mentioned his departure from the race.
Later at a fundraising event in Vegas, Trump stated that his once ally should endorse him. “You know why?” Trump asked. “Because I had a great, successful presidency and he was the vice president.”
Haley, however, offered words of support for Pence. “I want to first say just a special point to Vice President Mike Pence. He’s been a good man of faith. He’s been a good man of service. He has fought for America, and he has fought for Israel. And we all owe him a debt of gratitude,” Haley said to applause from the crowd.
Jennifer Galardi is the politics and culture editor and opinion writer for 19FortyFive.com. She has a Master’s in Public Policy from Pepperdine University and produces and hosts the podcast Connection with conversations that address health, culture, politics, and policy. In a previous life, she wrote for publications in the health, fitness, and nutrition space. In addition, her pieces have been published in the Epoch Times and Pepperdine Policy Review. You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter.