US politics: Republican Pence withdraws presidential bid

The ex-vice president was far behind in the polls, and financing his campaign also caused problems. For Pence’s ex-boss Trump, the withdrawal means one less competitor.

Former US Vice President Mike Pence no longer wants to become President of the United States. The Republican said in Las Vegas that he was withdrawing from the party’s internal race for the presidential nomination in next year’s election.

“This is not my time. After much prayer and consideration, I have decided to abandon my campaign for President as of today.”

The 64-year-old was far behind in polls and, according to media reports, had problems raising money for his campaign. “We always knew this would be a tough fight, but I have no regrets,” Pence told an audience that audibly responded with surprise at the announcement. Pence promised that he would leave the election campaign but would “never give up the fight for conservative values.”

Not very popular

Although the evangelical Christian was well known through his term as vice president, he still had to struggle with poor popularity ratings. The Republican field of candidates is led by former US President Donald Trump. Also in the running are Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and former US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley.

The party chooses its candidate in an internal party primary. It starts in mid-January at Iowa State. US President Joe Biden is running for re-election among the Democrats. As an incumbent, he has hardly had any serious competition in his party. Pence is the first well-known Republican candidate to drop out of the race. The presidential election is scheduled for November 5, 2024.

Against the ex-boss

Pence entered the race in June and thereby challenged his former boss Trump. Pence was his deputy from 2017 to 2021. The two have a difficult relationship: For years, Pence acted as Trump’s loyal companion. But in the turmoil after the 2020 presidential election, the relationship between the two was permanently damaged.

At the start of the election campaign, Pence came down hard on Trump, who did not want to recognize Biden’s success. With a view to the storming of the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, he accused Trump of putting him and his family in danger with his words. Trump supporters stormed the headquarters of Congress that day while Biden’s victory was to be confirmed there under the chairmanship of Pence.

In the previous days, Trump had claimed that Pence could simply reject election results from individual states, which legal experts and the Vice President considered to be unlawful. During the Capitol storm, Trump tweeted that Pence “didn’t have the courage to do what was supposed to be done.” Shouts of “Hang Pence” came from the mob.

Pence promotes candidates “with decency”

On Saturday, Pence said he was calling on all of his fellow Republicans to select as the front-runner someone who will not only lead the party to victory but also lead the nation with decency. During the election campaign, the Republican presidential candidates have to manage the difficult balancing act of not frightening the Trump fans at the base and at the same time presenting themselves as a better alternative to the ex-president.

According to observers, Pence’s decision to drop out more than two months before the primaries may have financial reasons on the one hand. On the other hand, Pence should also save face this way. He had been expected not to qualify for an upcoming Republican primary debate.

Pence is deeply religious and cultivates the image of a good public servant. He also supports a nationwide ban on abortion, which is very important to many conservatives, especially on the outer fringes. For Trump, the Christian covered this important group of voters at the time. With Pence no longer in the race, this group will have to look for a new candidate.

On Saturday in Las Vegas, Pence refrained from making a specific election recommendation for one of the other candidates.