Former Vice President Mike Pence said he believes Americans “understand” that he did the right thing on Jan. 6, 2021, by refusing to decertify the electoral count despite escalating pressure to do so from then-President Donald Trump.
“Ultimately, I believe that most Americans understand that we did our duty that day under the Constitution and the laws of this country,” Pence told the Wall Street Journal in an interview published on Friday.
The House select committee investigating the Capitol riot held its third hearing on Thursday in which the roles Trump and Pence played that day took center stage and included testimony that showed the former vice president had to seek shelter for more than four hours as rioters rampaged throughout the building, shouting, “Hang Mike Pence.”
But Pence, 63, wasn’t watching the hearing, he was in Ohio campaigning for Gov. Mike DeWine and a Republican congressman — part of a carefully coordinated effort to return to the national political scene as he weighs a presidential run in 2024, the Wall Street Journal reported.
At the House hearing, testimony revealed the former president had a heated phone call from the Oval Office with his No. 2 the morning of Jan. 6 when Trump called him a “wimp” and the “p-word.”
“The conversation was pretty heated,” Ivanka Trump said in a videotaped deposition played at the hearing. “It was a different tone than I heard him take with the vice president before.”
And as the mob stormed the Capitol, overpowering law enforcement officers and sending lawmakers scrambling for shelter, Trump posted a Twitter message: “Mike Pence doesn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our country.”
Faced with the impending threat, the Secret Service escorted Pence and his family to a secure location in the Capitol where he remained for four and a half hours and where rioters came within 40 feet of him.
To this day, Pence chooses the locations where he is speaking carefully and often hears calls of “Traitor” and boos from Trump backers in the audience.
He and Trump haven’t spoken in a year.
But Pence said as he travels across the country, people approach him to thank him for doing his duty on Jan. 6.
And while he said he has no desire to relitigate the 2020 presidential election, the stories Americans tell him during his travels lay out what their priorities are.
“Everywhere I go across the country, I can tell you, the American people are hurting,” Pence told the newspaper. “Inflation is at a 40-year high, $5-a-gallon gas and higher, the crisis at our border that I saw firsthand on Monday. A crime wave impacting our cities. It’s one of the reasons I’m so determined to be out supporting candidates for the House, the Senate and governors.”
In his speeches, he still touts the accomplishments of the Trump/Pence administration even as he acknowledges the difference between him and the former president.
“The president and I had very different styles, we’re different men,” Pence said. “But we were working shoulder to shoulder … and we delivered for the American people.”
He said he will decide whether to run for the White House in early 2023, a decision that will come based on prayer and discussions with friends but also on Trump’s 2024 intentions.
Still some say Pence would have to walk a tightrope when it comes to the Trump faithful.
“The Trump base in many states is very firm and very loyal,” Pennsylvania pollster Terry Madonna told the Wall Street Journal. “That’s Pence’s problem. He has to find a way to move some of those people over to him and campaign without alienating that base.”
Matt Moore, a Republican campaign consultant and former South Carolina party chairman, said Pence has already been damagd by Trump’s comments.
“Fair or not, Pence is diminished in the eyes of the base because President Trump doesn’t like him,” he told the publication. “Pence is a natural South Carolina candidate, but not in the time of Trump.”