Pence found his balls, kinda. On Friday, former Vice-President Mike Pence said that his former boss aka President Trump was “wrong” to suggest that Pence could overturn the 2020 elections.
To date, this is the strongest and harshest response from Pence to Trump’s claims, also mentioning that it is “un-American” to claim that one person could decide the outcome. In addition, he has also cautioned conservatives who believe that VPs can alter the elections and that such a stance could be problematic in the 2024 Presidential elections. A source close to Pence told NBC that Pence’s tone was due to “seeing Trump dig his heels in even deeper and going after him more personally.” (article continued below video)
Pence was speaking at the Federalist Society Florida Chapters, a conservative group. Pence said, “Under the Constitution, I had no right to change the outcome of our election, and (Vice President) Kamala Harris will have no right to overturn the election when we beat them in 2024.”
“President Trump is wrong. I had no right to overturn the election. There are those in our party who believe that, as the presiding officer over the joint session of Congress, that I possessed unilateral authority to reject Electoral College votes.”
He also said, “The presidency belongs to the American people, and the American people alone. And frankly, there is no idea more un-American than the notion that any one person could choose the American president.”
In a statement on Sunday, Trump put forward a recent bipartisan push to recount the Electoral College votes by Congress as proof that Pence had the power to overturn. He said in a statement, “What they are saying is that Mike Pence did have the right to change the outcome, and they now want to take that right away. Unfortunately, he didn’t exercise that power, he could have overturned the Election!” These claims and pressure from Trump have led senators from both parties to consider an alteration to the Electoral Count Act of 1887, which outlines guidelines to resolving presidential election disputes and certifying results.
Meanwhile, a Trump adviser accused Pence of being “disingenuous”, telling NBC that Trump didn’t ask him to overturn the elections, rather send the electoral votes back to the states.
Pence has repeatedly defended his position in certifying the election results. Back in June, he also acknowledged that he and Trump remain divided regarding the riot at the Capitol. On Friday, Pence described the event to be “a dark day in the history of the United States Capitol.”
Prior to the riot, Trump had pressured Pence to do “the right thing” and send the electoral votes back to recertify, claiming that if he “does the right thing, we win the elections.”
Pence is set for his political comeback, with possibilities to stand as a candidate in the next election. Pence is attempting to embrace his record with Trump, while also maintaining distance from the Trump administration. However, he is distinctly targeted by Trump supporters for his refusal to go through with the President’s plan and follow him into a constitutional crisis. For example, last year, Pence received a cold reception in Orlando to speak at the Faith & Freedom Coalition conference, with some booing his introduction and one person yelling, “Traitor!”.
At the end of the speech, Pence mainly focused on criticizing Biden’s efforts to mandate vaccinations and claimed credit for the vaccines that were developed while Trump was in office. He said that Biden was wrong to force health care workers who “took the beach without body armor for a year” to now “choose between vaccines and their jobs.” Pence also criticized Biden’s plan to nominate a Black woman to fill the seat of retiring liberal Justice Stephen Breyer, saying he is nominating “based first and foremost on the candidate’s race and gender.”