Former President Donald Trump on Saturday declined to say if he would select former Vice President Mike Pence as his running mate if he opted for a White House bid in 2024.
Trump told Fox News in an interview that he had a “very good relationship” with Pence, but was “disappointed with Mike on one thing,” a likely reference to the former vice president’s refusal to overturn the 2020 Electoral College certification of President Joe Biden’s victory.
Pence, who presided over the certification on January 6, was forced to retreat into a secure location after the Capitol Building was breached that day. Several of the insurrectionists, who were part of a huge mob that sought to stop the certification, openly called for the vice president to be hanged.
Trump didn’t question Pence’s character during the interview, but the former president is still smarting from the election loss, saying that “it’s really too soon to tell” if he would bring Pence back into his fold.
“Certainly we had a very good relationship,” he said. “I was disappointed with Mike on one thing as he understands and some other people understand, but overall, I had a very good relationship with Mike and he’s a very fine person and a fine man.”
He added: “I was disappointed on one account but that was a choice that Mike made, and I want people to make their own decisions and he did. Mike and I have a good relationship … but it’s too early to be discussing running mates.”
During a GOP event in New Hampshire last week, Insider’s Jake Lahut reported that Pence delved into his relationship with the former president as it related to the events of January 6.
“President Trump and I have spoken many times since we left office, and I don’t know if we’ll ever see eye to eye on that day,” he said. “But I will always be proud of what we accomplished for the American people over the last four years.”
He added: “As I said that night, January 6 was a dark day in the history of the United States Capitol. But thanks to the swift action of the Capitol Police and federal law enforcement, violence was quelled, the Capitol was secured, and that same day we reconvened the Congress and did our duty under the Constitution and the laws of the United States.”
In 2016, Trump tapped Pence, who was then Indiana’s governor, to join his ticket, in what was seen as an overture to religious conservatives.
The former president told Fox he would “make a decision in the not so distant future” and added that “people are going to be very happy.”
In his speech at the North Carolina GOP Convention on Saturday, Trump returned to his true form, praising conservatives who supported his agenda, backing Rep. Ted Budd for the Senate seat being vacated by GOP Sen. Richard Burr next year, and criticizing the Biden administration.
With former President Donald Trump escaping the Florida heat and temporarily residing at his New Jersey golf club for the summer, trips to Trump Tower are also part of his routine, according to The New York Times.
Trump, a native New Yorker whose business relationships have long been rooted in Manhattan, reportedly commutes from Bedminster to the city “at least once a week,” and comes back and forth “without attracting much attention,” according to The Times.
When Trump descended from an escalator into the lobby of Trump Tower to announce the launch of his successful 2016 presidential campaign, the building accentuated his burgeoning political power to the world.
However, after a tumultuous term in office and a failed reelection campaign last year, the mood is decidedly different in Trump’s longtime business hub.
Many of Trump’s longtime employees are no longer at the company and family members who once worked with the former president in Manhattan are in different locales.
Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal attorney, was once of fixture of the building but has become one of the former president’s highest-profile critics after being investigated and convicted of tax evasion and campaign finance violations.
According to The Times, the former president works “mostly alone” in his Trump Tower office, with two assistants and a small amount of body men.
The former president is seemingly downplaying his serious legal woes – New York prosecutors recently convened a grand jury to investigate whether the Trump organization committed financial crimes and the New York attorney general’s office is also conducting criminal investigations into the organization and its chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg.
“This is a continuation of the greatest Witch Hunt in American history,” Trump said in a statement last month. “It began the day I came down the escalator in Trump Tower, and it’s never stopped. They wasted two years and $48 million in taxpayer dollars on Mueller and Russia Russia Russia, Impeachment Hoax #1, Impeachment Hoax #2, and it continues to this day, with illegally leaked confidential information.”
MANCHESTER, N.H. – Just before the sun set over the Merrimack River, former Vice President Mike Pence took the stage at the Double Tree hotel in downtown Manchester Thursday night, ready to test his presidential ambitions and put a dark chapter to rest.
He walked up to “Takin’ Care of Business” by Bachman-Turner Overdrive, with prepared remarks including phrases such as “moral decay” and “the great Republican comeback,” culminating in a series of crescendos aimed at getting applause.
Most landed, but some didn’t.
In his signature speaking cadence, he had something important to say – that he and former President Donald Trump may never “see eye to eye” on the January 6 insurrection, but that he’s still proud of what the “Trump-Pence administration” accomplished – but not until the completion of the Pledge of Allegiance, the National Anthem, introductory speeches, a series of toasts, and a call for the men in the room to “seat the ladies.”
Pence was the main attraction for the Hillsborough County GOP’s annual Lincoln Reagan Dinner, promising a fundraising boost as the biggest name to hit the trail so far in the so-called invisible primary.
With over half of the Granite State’s GOP voters in just two counties – Hillsborough and Rockingham, sitting in the southeast corner of the state near the Boston suburbs – this dinner was equal parts prom and shopping for New Hampshire’s Republican elite.
At $1,000 for a table of 10 and an extra $250 for “VIP room” access, donors and power players could kick the tires on Pence 2024 and rekindle their quadrennial proximity to power.
‘He needs to get it out of the way.’
Should Pence choose to run in the 2024 GOP primary, locking up the best talent on the ground in New Hampshire will be a key step.
Among them were his former chief of staff as VP, Marc Short, along with his former press secretary, Devin O’Malley, and Marc Lotter, another former press secretary and director of strategic communications for the Trump 2020 campaign.
Lotter wrote Pence’s speech for that Thursday night, which bounced between religious themes and a more Trumpian ends-justify-the-means framework.
“As I said that night, January 6 was a dark day in the history of the United States Capitol,” Pence told the crowd. “But thanks to the swift action of the Capitol Police and federal law enforcement, violence was quelled, the Capitol was secured, and that same day, we reconvened the Congress and did our duty under the Constitution and the laws of the United States.”
The room went silent, save for a few whispered conversations.
He’d just landed a trifecta of standing ovations, starting with a line on how “Black lives are not endangered by police, Black lives are saved by police every day,” and that the United States “is not a racist country.”
Shifting into that signature Pence cadence – a staccato rhythm where he gets simultaneously louder and slower approaching the end of a sentence – the former VP gave the crowd what they wanted.
“You know, President Trump and I have spoken many times since we left office, and I don’t know if we’ll ever see eye to eye on that day,” Pence said. “But I will always be proud of what we accomplished for the American people over the last four years.”
Pence threaded the needle, distancing himself from Trump and the mob who chanted “Hang Mike Pence” while showing sufficient deference to the undisputed leader of the Republican Party.
“I thought it was a very good move on his part,” a longtime New Hampshire GOP operative told Insider, speaking on the condition of anonymity to talk candidly about the party’s outlook on 2024.
“He needs to get it out of the way if he wants to run for president,” the operative continued. “He handled it far more decently than Trump did, particularly considering Pence was on the right side of the event. I thought the crowd loved him.”
Although many of the donors and lawmakers in the room have plenty of experience speaking to reporters during primary season, most quickly declined to speak on the record once the subject of January 6 came up.
“I just think he handled the whole situation tonight very well,” David Tille, a 54-year-old Republican from Henniker, told Insider. “And I thought – I was impressed that he addressed it, that he brought it forward.”
Unlike some Republicans – such as Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, who described the insurrection as “by and large a peaceful protest” despite copious videos and firsthand accounts to the contrary – the consensus among New Hampshire’s GOP intelligentsia seemed to be that the Capitol siege was a horrible moment, but not something that should define the party.
Pence said as much, telling the crowd, “I will not allow Democrats or their allies in the media to use one tragic day to discredit the aspirations of millions of Americans.”
Mark Vincent, former chairman of the Hillsborough County GOP, told Insider that “it’s the same party I’ve always known,” and that Pence’s remarks on January 6 were neither a rebuke of Trumpism nor a euphemism.
“It’s a Pence-ism,” Vincent said of the “eye to eye” descriptor. “That’s the way I would expect Mike Pence to describe that situation. And he doesn’t wanna dwell on it.”
Winning the invisible primary
Before Pence spoke, Thomas and Tom Kentara, a father and son pair of Nashua Republicans, said they think he could possibly get better results as president compared to Trump, citing his relationships in Congress and more even-keeled demeanor.
However, both said Pence is not necessarily their pick going into 2024.
Along with several other attendees, the Kentaras said they’re particularly enthusiastic about two Republican governors – Ron DeSantis of Florida and Kristi Noem of South Dakota – because of how they rebuked public health experts during the pandemic.
“That’s the name you’re going to hear the most,” Vincent said of DeSantis.
A Pence aide told Insider that the former VP was simply in New Hampshire to rally support ahead of the 2022 midterms. Pence was not made available for an interview.
The aide also said Pence met with New Hampshire’s Republican Gov. Chris Sununu, as well as former Sen. Kelly Ayotte and the GOP conference in the State Senate.
A network that includes 424 state lawmakers, dozens of town selectmen and city council members, as well as unelected power brokers in key counties can provide the lifeblood of a presidential campaign in the Granite State.
They house campaign staff and volunteers, set up fundraisers, host events, and make endorsements after being courted by the candidates.
Trump won the New Hampshire Primary in 2016 without paying much attention to the traditional way of doing things in the state, but with the party firmly in his grasp, whoever wants to win the next one will have to flex the Trumpiest bona fides.
With his near death experience on January 6 “out of the way,” Pence has begun to do just that.
Republicans with presidential ambitions are looking for ways to campaign without angering former President Donald Trump.
While Trump mulls his political comeback, ambitious contenders are throwing themselves into House races in states with early primaries and caucuses to “put themselves out there” for 2024, the media outlet reported.
“They’re trying to figure out, how do you lay the groundwork without being seen as may be trying to push the president out of the way?” former Rep. Greg Walden, an ex-chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee, told Politico.
“Until President Trump decides what he’s going to do, I think they can be helpful in House races in their own ways and keep focused on that and not run afoul of the big elephant in the room,” Walden added.
Cotton, seen as a possible contender for the GOP nomination, is heading to Iowa this summer to launch a string of House fundraising campaigns, according to Politico.
Pompeo visited the state in Spring to show his Iowa Rep. Ashley Hinson support, the media outlet noted.
In New Hampshire, the home of the second nominating contest in the Republican presidential primaries, the aspiring contenders have started to throw their weight behind Republican parachute candidate Matt Mowers. Mowers has hosted virtual events with both Pompeo and Cotton, Politico said.
“President Trump did a lot of good. But he squandered a lot of his legacy after what happened after Nov. 3. And I think that’s a shame,” Sen. John Cornyn of Texas told Politico. “Running for president, you’re under a lot of scrutiny. And all I can say is there’s a lot to talk about.”
Insider’s Tom LoBianco reported in April that Trump, who will turn 75 on June 14, has shed 15 pounds already through regular golf outings and cutting back on high-sugar snacks like M&Ms in his post-presidency. Visitors to Mar-a-Lago have taken notice of the changes in Trump’s appearance and overall health.
Despite his diminished stature within the party, Trump still plans on using his significant influence to be a kingmaker in the 2022 midterms – in some ways that could end up harming the GOP in key races.
Trump has publicly denigrated Gov. Brian Kemp, one of the most vulnerable GOP governors up for reelection in 2022, over his certifying the 2020 presidential election for Biden.
Trump told Fox News in April that he is “very seriously” considering another presidential bid in 2024 – and for now, he’s frozen much of the rest of the prospective field from planning their runs.
If Trump decides not to run, other possible frontrunners include former Vice President Mike Pence, Sens. Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, Rick Scott, and Tom Cotton, Govs. Ron DeSantis of Florida and Kristi Noem of South Dakota, former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Former President Donald Trump on Saturday expressed optimism that Republicans would regain control of the House and Senate in the 2022 midterm elections and win back the White House in 2024, according to prepared remarks obtained by the Associated Press.
In a keynote address at the Republican National Committee’s donor summit in Florida, Trump did not explicitly say if he would be a candidate in 2024, but float the idea of a potential candidacy, according to an attendee who spoke with CBS News.
While the closed-door summit was mostly held at the Four Seasons Resort in Palm Beach, attendees were taken to the former president’s Mar-a-Lago resort to hear him speak.
“We are gathered tonight to talk about the future of the Republican Party – and what we must do to set our candidates on a course to victory,” Trump’s prepared remarks said. “I stand before you this evening filled with confidence that in 2022, we are going to take back the House and we are going to reclaim the Senate – and then in 2024, a Republican candidate is going to win the White House.”
“With an agenda this unpopular, it is no wonder that Joe Biden is the first new president in modern times not to address a joint session of Congress within his first few weeks,” according to the former president’s prepared remarks.
Trump, along with top GOP leaders, have reportedly expressed confidence that Republicans can win back control of Congress by hammering Biden over his immigration policies.
The former president championed hardline immigration policies and the construction of a southern border wall throughout his tenure in office and during the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections.
Biden has sought to move away from the more aggressive family separation policies that defined the Trump years.
The GOP summit comes as Republicans find themselves shut out of power in Washington DC, with Biden in the White House and Democrats in control of both the House and the Senate, albeit with slim majorities.
In attendance were several potential 2024 GOP candidates that would likely launch campaigns in the event that Trump declines to run, including Govs. Ron DeSantis of Florida and Kristi Noem of South Dakota, along with Sens. Rick Scott of Florida and Tom Cotton of Arkansas.
Former President Donald Trump is seriously considering running for the White House again in 2024, and advisors are pushing him to drop former Vice President Mike Pence as his running mate if he does so, Bloomberg reported.
Three sources told Bloomberg that Pence likely won’t be on the ticket should Trump run again.
Close advisors want him to go with a Black or female vice presidential pick, sources familiar with the discussions told Bloomberg. Two advisors singled out South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, an ardent Trump defender, per Bloomberg.
A person familiar with the matter told Bloomberg that they doubt Pence would run with Trump again, but that Pence hasn’t specified whether he’s interested or not. Trump teased a 2024 run at last week’s Conservative Political Action Conference.
But Trump advisor Jason Miller told Bloomberg that Trump “hasn’t made any decisions regarding a potential 2024 run” and contested that any conversations were happening about picking a new running mate.
Insider has contacted Trump’s office for comment on the Bloomberg report. Bloomberg said a Pence spokesperson did not respond to its request for comment.
Trump and Pence seemed to fall out near the end of their term, when the vice president refused to get behind the Trump’s plan to overturn the 2020 election result.
Trump lashed out at Pence on social media for not trying to block the certification of the election results on January 6, an act that Pence had no constitutional authority to do.
But Pence’s former chief of staff, Marc Short, downplayed the tension in an interview with CNN, saying Trump and Pence “talked several times before they departed” the White House, and that they left things “amicably.”
Pence himself has been heavily discussed as a potential 2024 GOP candidate, but still lags in popularity to Trump. A recent Harvard-Harris poll found that 42% of Republicans wanted Trump as their 2024 nominee, compared to 18% who preferred Pence.
Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told Fox News on Thursday night that the Republican Party is already looking ahead to the 2024 presidential election and that the top GOP contenders are all named Trump.
Meadows, who said he talked with former President Donald Trump on Wednesday, said the former president’s speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Sunday in Orlando, Florida will offer a glimpse of “what the future may look like.” He added that Trump remains the leader of the divided party.
“On Sunday, we will see the start of planning for the next administration and I can tell you, the people that are at the top of that list, all of the have Trump as their last name,” Meadows told opinion host and Trump ally Sean Hannity.
Trump has reportedly said he plans to run for reelection in 2024 and his two eldest children, Ivanka and Don Jr., are both widely viewed as potential future candidates for office.
Since leaving office, Trump has continued to spread lies that he won the 2020 presidential election and that Democrats engaged in widespread voter fraud. Meadows said Trump will take about his “America First” agenda and attack President Joe Biden’s actions in office. It will be Trump’s first speech since he left office and was impeached for inciting the deadly January 6 Capitol riot.
“You’re going to see a speech on Sunday that talks about not only the beginning, but what the future may look like, and I’m excited about it,” said Meadows, formerly the chair of the House Freedom Caucus.
Also during Hannity’s Thursday night program, Trump Jr. mocked Republican politicians who “lose gracefully” and said his father showed “you don’t have to do that, you can actually push back.” And he insisted that his father remains the most powerful figure in the GOP.
“If you’re reading the room and you’re intelligent, you realize that Donald Trump is still the future of the Republican party,” he said.
In his attempt to both keep the GOP voter base happy and keep the GOP donor class happy, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell voted to acquit former President Trump for inciting the January 6 riots. Then he blasted Trump for his behavior in a speech following the vote.
This is called having your cake and eating it too. Historically, this never works, especially not with someone like Donald Trump. In a statement on Tuesday, Trump fired back at McConnell, calling the Kentucky Republican a “dour, sullen, unsmiling political hack.” The now-private citizen vowed to support Trumpy primary opponents against GOP establishment candidates who sided with McConnell. In other words, this means war.
This might have been the most obvious turn of events in American politics. Donald Trump has a history of viciously turning on people who fall even a little bit out of line. You’re either with him 100% or you’re an enemy. He turned on former Attorney General Jeff Sessions because Sessions recused himself from the investigation into Trump’s ties to Russia, as ethically he was bound to do.
And then there’s Michael Cohen, Trump’s most loyal adviser and attorney. When Cohen got in legal trouble for paying adult actress Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about her affair with Trump, Trump tried to destroy Cohen.
Yet with all this history, McConnell thought that he could deviate from Trump’s line – blasting him for inciting the January 6 riots, while still allowing Trump to keep the spectre of another presidential run hanging over the GOP. This was supposed to keep the hardcore Trump voters excited and on the Republican bandwagon while letting the donor class know the GOP hasn’t completely lost its mind. But that doesn’t work for Trump.
Trump is vindictive, but he is also lazy. So it’s quite possible that McConnell could’ve saved himself a lot of heartache if he had just voted to convict Trump and barred him from running for office in the future. Trump may have found the work of politics too taxing without the prospect of another stint in the White House.
But no, like any coward, it appears McConnell wanted someone – anyone– to take care of the GOP’s Trump problem but him.
Now, even if Trump doesn’t run for President in 2024, the mere prospect of him running gives him sway over the party. It will excite the base. He’ll hold rallies. He’ll be a kingmaker. And, most important for him of all, he’ll raise lots of money that could be going to the GOP and their actual candidates instead.
McConnell’s caucus has got to be despondent. Trump just raised a lot of money, and to the extent that he can’t use it on himself, he will use it to cause pain to people he dislikes. Menwhile, the Senate has a number of presidential hopefuls waiting in the wings, and the prospect of having to choose sides in a war between winning back the suburban voters who abandoned the party in droves or driving out the Trump base is not great for their chances at the White House.
Because remember, Donald Trump is a loser. He lost the 2020 presidential election by 6 million votes. He contributed to the loss of not one but two GOP Senate seats in the state of Georgia making McConnell the Minority – not Majority – Leader of the Senate.
And as the GOP decides whether or not it has more respect for Rep. Liz Cheney, or conspiracy theory addled Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green, President Biden is presenting his agenda to the American people and speeding up our national coronavirus vaccination program more and more every day.
Mitch McConnell and the GOP are really going to need that donor money now.