Pence withdraws from 2024 presidential race dominated by Trump | ET REALITY

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Former Vice President Mike Pence, who spent four years diligently serving President Donald J. Trump but refused to meet Trump’s demand to block the 2020 election results, ended his presidential bid on Saturday, with a final call for May your party return. to conservative principles and resist the “siren song of populism.”

The surprise announcement came at the end of his remarks to a crowd of Jewish Republican donors in Las Vegas, and was met with surprise. Pence received a standing ovation and opened his speech with a full endorsement of Israel’s military operations in Gaza.

He then went on a “more personal note,” saying that after much prayer and deliberation, he had decided to drop out of the race.

“It has become clear to me that this is not my time,” he told the crowd of 1,500, vowing to “never give up the fight for conservative values.”

Nikki Haley, former ambassador to the United Nations and crowd favorite, opened her speech to the group by praising Pence and adding several lines to her prepared remarks.

“He has been a good man of faith. He has been a good man of service. “He has fought for America and he has fought for Israel,” he said. “We all owe him a debt of gratitude.”

Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, another candidate in the race, said in a statement: “The vice president has been a prayer partner, a friend, and a man of integrity and deep convictions. “The Republican Party is stronger today because of Mike’s leadership.” Chris Christie, the former New Jersey governor who spoke earlier in the day, said Pence, a former congressman, had “constantly fought for American values” and “defended the constitution of the United States.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, who spoke immediately after Pence, did not mention the former vice president in his remarks. He issued a statement on X, the website formerly known as Twitter, while Haley was still speaking, calling Pence a “principled man of faith.”

Eric Levine, a board member of the Republican Jewish Coalition and a New York lawyer who supports Scott in the presidential race, called the ad “the definition of patriotism.”

The exit from the race came less than 90 days before the Iowa caucuses, on which Pence had staked his candidacy. But while Iowa is one of the tougher early states in the Republican primary for Trump than some others, the former president remains dominant there. And Pence’s decision to end his career underscores how complicated the path to unseating Trump, who has been impeached four times, including twice for efforts to stay in power, is in a field of multiple candidates.

Pence is the highest-profile candidate to drop out of the race and the first of those to meet the Republican National Committee’s criteria for primary debates. It had not yet been announced that he qualified for the Nov. 8 debate in Miami, for which candidates must meet a voting threshold and have 70,000 unique donors. Pence’s campaign recently reported that his debt exceeds $600,000.

After entering the race in June, Pence sought to harness any energy that might remain in the Trump-era Republican Party for a conservative in the mold of President Ronald Reagan. He was focused on returning the party to an era of emphasizing fiscal discipline, enforcing the post-World War II order, opposing government interference with business, and taking a hardline stance against abortion.

But Pence, the former governor of Indiana, fought hard to raise money, and never gained ground in the polls that his former running mate has dominated. He walked a line between fully attacking Trump (and defending his administration’s policies) while also criticizing the former president for his efforts to cling to power, calling them clearly unconstitutional.

As Pence’s campaign unfolded, Trump was impeached twice in connection with his attempts to subvert President Biden’s 2020 victory: in federal court in Washington, D.C. and in Fulton County, Georgia.

Trump had pressured his vice president to reject Biden’s Electoral College victory. On January 6, 2021, that pressure campaign culminated in a pro-Trump mob attacking the Capitol, with some members of the mob chanting “Hang Mike Pence!”

Pence was praised for his resilience by some who see Trump as a pure threat to democracy. But on the campaign trail, where many Republican voters have come to echo and defend Trump’s false claims of widespread fraud, Pence sometimes faced competing questions about why he had not tried to hand the election to Trump.

Pence became more vocal in criticizing Trump as the campaign progressed. More recently, after the Hamas terrorist attack on Israelis, Pence accused Trump and some of his other rivals of “appeasement” for their isolationist approach to international affairs.

Pence will be a key witness for federal prosecutors against Trump in his trial, scheduled to begin in March, on charges related to his efforts to stay in power.

Concluding his Saturday speech to the Republican Jewish Coalition, Pence said, “The only thing that would have been harder than falling short would have been if we had never tried at all.”

And in a clear attack on Trump’s behavior, he urged Republicans to “give our country a Republican standard-bearer who, as Lincoln said, appeals to the better angels of our nature.”

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