EXCLUSIVE — Former President Donald Trump is effectively ruling out bringing in former Vice President Mike Pence as his running mate if he mounts a third White House bid in 2024 and wins the Republican nomination.
“I don’t think people would accept it,” Trump told the Washington Examiner Tuesday evening during an extensive telephone interview from Mar-a-Lago, his private social club and political headquarters in Palm Beach, Florida.
The former president cited friction arising from the aftermath of the 2020 election, suggesting their differences are too stark to overcome. Trump claimed the contest was robbed and wanted Pence to overturn the results when Congress certified President Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory. Pence, who in his capacity as President of the Senate presided over the certification process, refused, explaining that the Constitution did not grant him such authority.
Trump continues to insist otherwise. He pointed to bipartisan talks on Capitol Hill to reform the Voter Count Act, the law governing Congressional certification of Electoral College results, as evidence that his vice president could have thrown out electoral votes from various states and facilitated a second term for the Trump-Pence ticket. The former president called Pence a “really nice person” but signaled that their relationship could be irrevocably broken.
“Mike and I had a great relationship, except for the really big factor that happened at the end. We had a great relationship,” Trump said. “I haven’t spoken to him in a long time.”
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More than a year after the Trump administration gave way to the Biden administration, the feud between the pair of two running mates goes both ways.
Pence is considering a 2024 bid. He has signaled he will not automatically step down if Trump runs and has accelerated efforts to establish his independence from the former president. Pence recently told a gathering of conservative lawyers that Trump was “wrong” to claim the vice president is constitutionally empowered to overturn the results of a presidential election. Pence also took aim at Trump in a March speech to Republican donors.
“There is no place in this party for Putin apologists,” he said during remarks to party financiers gathered for a Republican National Committee donor retreat, later adding: “We don’t we cannot win by fighting the battles of yesterday or questioning the past”.
Trump has often praised Vladimir Putin’s geopolitical acumen and been reluctant to criticize him directly, although the former president told the Washington Examiner he was “surprised” that the Russian strongman invaded Ukraine and said “he has changed a lot”. Meanwhile, Trump argued that shifting the GOP’s focus to the 2022 and 2024 midterm elections would be a political mistake, saying solving what happened in the 2020 election matters most to voters. Republican primaries.
Trump, throughout his political career, has often argued with close associates – even appearing to excommunicate them from those around him, only to later welcome them with open arms.
That’s always a possibility with Pence. The two developed a close and productive working relationship in 2016 after Trump tapped the Indiana governor and former House member of 12 years to be his running mate. He gave Pence unusual autonomy to operate politically and shape his administration’s agenda. In return, Pence granted Trump a nearly unchallenged loyalty, at least publicly.
Amid Trump’s repeated criticism of Pence on Tuesday during his conversation with the Washington Examiner, the former president has occasionally signaled that he retains at least some level of appreciation for the vice president who served him. “I still love Mike,” Trump said. But overall, Trump’s comments were cold and critical.
The former president has no intention of dropping his complaints about the 2020 election.
Trump is also in no mood to forgive Pence for refusing to agree to a plan to return electoral votes from Arizona, Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin, and possibly other states, to their respective Republican-controlled legislatures, where the former president believes sympathetic state lawmakers would have given him the Electoral College votes he needed to defeat Biden.
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“Mike thought he was going to be a human treadmill, that no matter how cheated the votes, you have to send them to Old Crow,” Trump said, using his nickname as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. .
“But that turned out to be wrong. Because now, as you know, they’re working feverishly to try to make sure the VP can’t do what Mike said he can’t do,” added the former president, referring to proposals to revise the electoral count law: “Obviously, either they were lying, or they were making false statements, or they didn’t know.”
“I was disappointed with Mike,” Trump said.