former vice president Mike Pence on Wednesday he said he would prefer a Republican alternative to the former president Donald Trump in the 2024 presidential election.
“I think we’re going to have better options” than Trump, Pence said on CNBC.Squawk Box” when asked whether the Republican Party should nominate someone other than the former president next year. A potential 2024 candidate, Pence has not specifically ruled out endorsing Trump if he becomes the GOP nominee.
The former vice president, who served four years in the White House under Trump, appeared to take a gentle swipe at his former boss when discussing Republicans’ underperformance in the midterm elections.
“Our candidates who have focused on the past, particularly the relict of the last election, have not done well, even in areas where we should have done very well,” Pence said.
Pence is expected to consider his own presidential bid — a move that could put him in direct competition with Trump, who has attacked him for refusing to help oust the president. Joe Bidenwinning the 2020 election. After Pence said on January 6, 2021 that he would not agree to Trump’s plan, a violent mob of Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol, sending the then-Vice President and congressional lawmakers into hiding.
But Pence offered only a cryptic response to his presidential plans in a new interview Wednesday.
“I’ll keep you posted,” Pence said when asked if he was seeking the Republican presidential nomination.
Pence demurred as some of his potential challengers began filing for the GOP primary. After a relatively quiet few months in which Trump was the only notable Republican on the campaign trail, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley became his first major primary challenger last week. Another candidate, entrepreneur and fighter for right-wing culture Vivek Ramaswamyentered the presidential race on Tuesday.
A number of other Republicans, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, appear to be preparing to announce their own White House bids.
Mike Pence on CNBC, February 22, 2023.
Dwelling on the prospect of a presidential run, Pence delved into some of the thorniest political questions facing the country. Asked about congressional debate on raising the U.S. debt ceiling and the prospect of reforming Medicare and Social Security, he said the U.S. should consider long-term changes to popular but expensive programs.
Some House Republicans have targeted the programs as part of a potential deal to raise the U.S. borrowing limit, drawing sharp criticism from Democrats and prompting a lengthy back-and-forth. Leaders of both parties promise not to touch the claims.
“I’m glad the Republican majority is saying we need to use this debt ceiling to jumpstart us back toward fiscal discipline, but look, we all know where the real problem is when it comes to the long-term debt,” Pence said.
“I respect the speaker’s commitment to take Social Security and Medicare off the table for the debt ceiling negotiations. We have to put them on the table for the long term,” Pence said.
“We’re looking at a debt crisis in this country over the next 25 years that’s driven by claims, and nobody in Washington wants to talk about it,” he said.
Pressed on what reforms he would make, Pence said there were “a lot of good ideas.” He mentioned former President Ronald Reagan working to raise the retirement age along with long-term personal savings accounts. But “the first job is to be fair, the second job is to get everyone to the table,” he said.
The Trump administration has not pushed for entitlement reforms. Faced with this, Pence argued that the Trump administration’s first goal was to “get the economy moving again” after the slow Obama-era recovery from the 2008 recession.
“Then history showed up in the form of Covid,” Pence said — though he added, “I don’t think we’ve done enough.”
Pence has repeatedly said the country needs “leadership” at the presidential level, saying the 2022 midterms showed “the election is about the future.”
“I think our candidates who have focused on the issues that affect Americans today and the solutions for the future have done very well,” Pence said. But “our candidates who focused on the past, especially the relict of the last election, did not do well, even in areas where we should have done very well.”
Trump never conceded the 2020 election to Biden and for years since his loss has falsely claimed that the race was tainted by widespread voter fraud. Many of Trump’s midterm candidates who repeated these false claims or otherwise challenged the outcome in 2020 lost high-profile races.
“I don’t think anybody can beat Hillary Clinton in 2016 other than Donald Trump,” Pence told CNBC.
But now, he said, “I honestly hear people talking to me very regularly about wanting to get back to politics, but wanting to get back to politics that allows us to take on some of these long-standing, intractable problems.”