Mike Pence is the Political Canary in the Coalmine Against Donald Trump in 2024 – Mike Pence was the candidate for president no one wanted—except for Mike Pence, of course.
Now, after just a few months of being in the 2024 Presidential Race, the former vice president is terminating his quixotic bid to become the GOP nominee.
Never having crossed into double-digits in the polls, straining to get even a handful of Iowa voters to show up at his campaign rallies, and down to just a little over $1 million in his campaign war chest (compared to the whopping $37.5 million that former President Donald J. Trump ended September with), no one knew what Pence was trying to achieve.
Pence’s fall is a portend of things to come for the remaining Republican candidates. Of the many politicians running against Trump in the GOP primary, only Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis stands a real chance. But even DeSantis appears to be struggling in the polls. Trump is upwards of 40 points ahead of the pack. DeSantis and Nikki Haley both have considerable hurdles to overcome. Still, they’ve been doing well in the polls compared to the other Republican candidates facing Trump and they’ve got sizable campaign cash on hand.
The problem they face is that they’re not Trump.
Trump’s popularity can be seen implicitly in the fall of Mike Pence, the last Republican vice president. At one time, Pence was a popular Republican politician. Known for his strong conservative credentials, possessing a large following among the crucial Evangelical Christian crowd, and being an ardent defender of traditional conservative social values, the Mike Pence of 2005 or 2015 was a strong candidate for higher office.
The Party of Trump
Today, however, that’s over.
The Republican Party of 2023 is not the GOP of 2015. It is Donald Trump’s party.
There was a brief moment following the disastrous showing of most Trump-backed, “MAGA” candidates in the 2022 Midterms. It was as if the defeat in what should have been an easy Republican victory broke the fever of the party’s obsession with one man. And from November 2022 until the end of March 2023, it truly looked as though the party were ready to move on.
Not to Mike Pence, of course. But the party looked as though it might have been on its way toward a greater diversification of its leadership possibilities beyond the one-term Trump. But then the administrative state began its war against the dreaded orange man who seeks the White House. Everything from exaggerated claims of hush money payments, to defamation and battery lawsuits, to allegations of mishandled classified documents, to the old insurrection and election interference canards—the Deep State brought up its greatest hits (even coming close to reviving the debunked Russia collusion claims with their mishandled classified documents federal case against Trump).
With a combined 91 federal indictments under his sizable belt, Trump went from yesterday’s news to the leading man of the GOP psychodrama that is the 2024 primary in a few short months. And Mike Pence was again made to be the human stage upon which Trump would stand, as Pence had been for all four years of the Trump Administration—except this time, Pence was made into that stepstool against his own accord.
Where Do the GOP Candidates Go From Here?
Pence is the first to fall in the GOP race to replace Trump. He won’t be the last. All eyes will be transfixed, however, on what both DeSantis and Haley opt to do in the coming months. Their campaigns, while still trailing behind Trump, are the most competitive. Pence couldn’t stick it out until mid-January, when the Iowa Caucus takes place. Nor can likely many of the other GOP candidates. That is, except for Haley and DeSantis. They must pull through to at least South Carolina, where the Trump, Haley, and DeSantis campaigns will likely make their big stand against each other.
Make no mistake, though: the Pence implosion shows that the GOP is Trump’s party. Therefore, both DeSantis and Haley have a massive uphill battle to wage.
Now, they must make bold plays to appeal to Pence’s handful of voters and bring them into their camp, if either DeSantis or Haley think they can seriously overcome the massive Trump lead.
A 19FortyFive Senior Editor and an energy analyst at the The-Pipeline, Brandon J. Weichert is a former Congressional staffer and geopolitical analyst who is a contributor at The Washington Times, as well as at the Asia Times. He is the author of Winning Space: How America Remains a Superpower (Republic Book Publishers), Biohacked: China’s Race to Control Life (Encounter Books), and The Shadow War: Iran’s Quest for Supremacy (July 23). Weichert occasionally serves as a Subject Matter Expert for various organizations, including the Department of Defense. He can be followed via Twitter @WeTheBrandon. He writes opinion pieces for this publication.
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