Former US Vice President Mike Pence launches 2024 election bid


Former US Vice President Mike Pence formally challenged his former boss, Donald Trump, for the Republican presidential nomination on Wednesday.

"I'll always be proud of the progress we made together for a stronger and more prosperous America," he said in his campaign video, criticising current Democratic President Joe Biden but never citing Trump by name.

Pence will hold a campaign kick-off event later on Wednesday near Des Moines, Iowa's capital followed by a CNN town hall event Wednesday evening. His campaign declared his candidacy to the Federal Election Commission on Monday.

It is extremely rare for a vice president to run against a president he served under, and it has happened just a handful of times in US history. Pence enters the Republican presidential primary with a mountain to climb, polling at just 5 per cent and trailing Trump by 44 points, according to a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll in May.

Pence, who turns 64 on Wednesday, will face Trump and at least 10 others in a crowded Republican field that is essentially a two-man race between Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

He will focus much of his campaigning on Iowa, the first state to vote in the nominating contest next year, and will hope a strong showing in the state will give him momentum and propel him into contention.

During Trump's tumultuous four years in the White House, Pence repeatedly defended him through multiple scandals.

But Pence incurred the wrath of Trump and his supporters when, as ceremonial president of the Senate, he refused to stop the certification of Biden's victory over Trump in the 2020 election.

Pence said he had no constitutional authority to meddle with the election results. Trump supporters stormed the Capitol during the certification process on January 6, 2021, forcing Pence, lawmakers and staff to flee to safety.

"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 that history will hold Donald Trump accountable," Pence said in March.

Many of Trump's diehard supporters view Pence's refusal to overturn the election result as treachery, potentially complicating his path to the nomination.

Pence, who served as a governor of Indiana and is a former congressman, still embraces many of Trump's policies while portraying himself as an even-keeled and consensus-oriented alternative.

The success of his campaign will hinge on whether he can attract enough backers of Trump's policies who are turned off by the former president's rhetoric and behaviour to build a viable coalition.

Pence in his video cited inflation, immigration and recession risk. He also said, over images of the leaders of Russia and China, that "the enemies of freedom are on the march around the world".

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