“The Freedom Agenda provides a clear roadmap for conservative leaders who seek to connect deeply with the American people on their top priorities,” Pence plans to say, according to prepared remarks obtained by CNN. “It is based on the belief that Americans want to create more economic opportunity, restore American leadership on the world stage, take pride in traditional American culture, and want to preserve it.”
His prepared remarks touch on the importance of building a “sustainable majority” and the need for “unified conservative action” instead of looking back.
“Some people may choose to focus on the past,” read Pence’s planned remarks. “But I believe the Conservatives need to focus on the future.”
The speech had been scheduled 24 hours before Trump was due to deliver a keynote address at the America First Policy Institute Summit, a two-day event in Washington that brings together elected Republicans and Trump administration alumni to discuss policy issues. Ideas for a “First American Program”.
The former president’s and vice president’s planned speeches fit into a theme that Pence and his political team have been quietly pushing for months as the Indiana Republican prepares for a possible White House race: So As Trump continues to speak out about his false claims about the 2020 election, his former running mate is helping to bolster Republican political prospects in 2022 and beyond.
The proposed program, which Pence’s political group Advancing American Freedom released in April, attempts to synthesize right-wing populist ideas with the mainstream conservatism from which Pence emerged as a political figure. It reflects Pence’s own efforts to chart a course that acknowledges the Trump-era GOP coalition while turning the page on what many Republican leaders see as the former president’s divisive and dangerous impulses.
Last confrontation between the former president and the vice-president
Pence’s speech at Heritage is the latest example from last week of Pence presenting himself to various GOP factions as an alternative heir to Trump in 2024.
Last Wednesday in Washington, Pence received a warm welcome from members of the Republican Review Committee, the conservative House caucus he once chaired, suggesting he still has cachet among his party’s elected officials. , even within a House GOP conference that remains staunchly loyal to Trump. .
Both Pence and Ducey are backing Karrin Taylor Robson ahead of the Aug. 2 primary. The race between Lake and Taylor Robson remains tight, and his endorsement is a bit of a risk for the cautious Pence.
“I’m grateful to the vice president for stepping out, picking the true conservative in this race, and helping make it clear to all Arizonans that she’s the superior choice in the gubernatorial primary,” Ducey told CNN last week in an interview. “Mike Pence brings the imprimatur of a true conservative to this race.”
While Trump spent much of his post-presidency trying to settle scores with Republicans who crossed paths with him, Pence nurtured relationships with party leaders. His more than two decades in elected Republican politics have helped, including his tenure as governor of Indiana, which Ducey cites as an asset when Pence comes to help candidates running in 2022.
“When he was governor of Indiana, he was an excellent colleague and collaborator with other governors. And as vice president, he continues[d] be. So when Mike Pence speaks out on this race, it brings all of that and more,” Ducey said.
“Vice President Pence was a huge help during the primary and continued to be helpful, but we asked,” said Cody Hall, Kemp’s campaign spokesman. “He said, ‘However we can help, we will,’ because he wants to elect Republicans, not just here in Georgia, but across the country.”
And even with that primary over, Pence is sticking with Kemp, including hosting a fundraiser for Georgia’s governor in Indianapolis on Aug. 1, according to two people familiar with the plans.
Caution in Public Criticism of Trump
What remains unclear is whether Pence’s approach to making friends within the Republican tent helps him sway the direction of the party whose core voters remain swayed by Trump. The relationship between the two men is non-existent, with neither speaking to each other since early 2021. But despite their divergence on the issue of the transfer of power after the 2020 election, Pence continues in speeches to extol the achievements of the “Trump-Pence administration.”
And he has been cautious in his public criticism of Trump, generally toeing an innocuous line that he and the former president will “never agree” on the events of Jan. 6.
“I heard this week that President Trump said I had the right to void the election. President Trump is wrong,” Pence said. “I had no right to void the election. The presidency belongs to the American people and the American people alone. Frankly, there is no idea more un-American than the idea that anyone who could choose the American president.”
But many Republicans say Pence is in a tough position to successfully run for president in 2024. Mick Mulvaney, the former acting White House chief of staff under Trump, said the group of potential candidates who can claim to want to move the party “beyond Trump” will be great.
“I think that’s the same way Ron DeSantis might look and Tim Scott might look, and Nikki Haley and Mike Pompeo,” Mulvaney told CNN.
And not only could GOP primary voters punish Pence for not bidding on Trump, but Trump himself could decide to torpedo his former running mate’s chances, whether or not he decides to run himself.
“Who will Donald Trump be most interested in defeating first? I think it’s Pence,” Mulvaney said. “I think because the things he [said] about Pence dropping him I think is real.”