Former Vice President Mike Pence launched his presidential bid on Wednesday with a strong condemnation of former President Donald Trump, citing his dereliction of duty during the January 6, 2021 by inciting an attack on the U.S. Capitol in an effort to stay in power after losing the 2020 election to President Joe Biden.
Speaking at a campaign event in Ankeny, Iowa, Pence became the first vice president in modern history to challenge the president he served under. He asserted that Trump disqualified himself when he wrongly insisted that Pence had the authority to keep him in office.
“President Trump endangered my family and everyone at the Capitol on that day. But it is important for the American people to know that he also demanded that I choose between him and our Constitution. Now, voters will face the same choice,” Pence said. “I chose the Constitution, and I always will.”
Pence firmly expressed his belief that anyone who prioritizes themselves over the Constitution should never hold the presidency, and anyone who asks others to prioritize them over the Constitution should be disqualified from being president.
While Pence had previously criticized Trump indirectly in the past two-and-a-half years, he did not hold back this time.
The former vice president also criticized the current state of politics, denouncing the politics of grudges and grievances. He pledged to restore a level of civility in public life and highlighted the importance of leaders who can distinguish between genuine principles and the politics of outrage.
With Pence entering the race, he joins other contenders, including Trump, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, and North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum.
Watch Pence’s speech below.
During his campaign kickoff, fmr VP Pence explains how Jan. 6 led to his choice to take on Trump:
"Trump 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." https://t.co/93YgobnAXR pic.twitter.com/Qd4lNZ9Fab
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) June 7, 2023