Mike Pence rebukes Trump as he enters 2024 presidential race

Former US vice-president Mike Pence has formally launched his campaign for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, accusing former president Donald Trump of being unfaithful to the US constitution.

The former Indiana governor and congressman formally announced his candidacy on Wednesday, saying “different times call for different leadership.”

In a speech in in Ankeny, Iowa, Pence, the latest Republican to announce his nomination, described the election as a battle for the US that is “in trouble” under President Joe Biden administration.

“We can defend our liberties and give America a new beginning for life. But it will require new leadership — in the White House and the Republican Party,” the former vice president said.

In his speech, Pence chastised Donald Trump for his “reckless” actions on January 6, 2021, took swipe at Joe Biden while singling out “enemies of freedom” around the world, naming Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, and China’s president, Xi Jinping, in the video.

Pence is the first vice president in modern history to challenge the president under whom he served. He argued that Trump had encouraged the mob that attacked the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, and had incorrectly asserted that Pence had the power to overturn the election result.

“The American people deserve to know that on that day, President Trump also demanded that I choose between him and the Constitution. Now, voters will be faced with the same choice. I chose the Constitution and I always will,” Pence said.

Without naming Trump specifically, Pence said that “anyone” who would disregard the Constitution or place themselves above it should “never” be president, adding that Trump’s actions on January 6 should disqualify him from returning to power.

Pence also argued that Trump has no plan to address the country’s long-term debt, inflation and spending issues and has been retreating from his support for abortion restrictions.

Moreover, Pence’s sharpest criticism of Trump came when he was asked about the United States’ role in helping Ukraine in its efforts to repel Russia’s military operation.

Much of his speech focused on his disagreements with Trump, but he also stressed on his own conservative principles, including his longtime support of abortion restrictions, shrinking the federal government and issues at the US-Mexico border.

Trump is leading the polls among GOP voters, with Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, now trailing about 30 percentage points behind him. Pence has consistently polled third, in the single digits.

Eight Republican candidates have officially joined the race.

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