Mike Pence knocks Trump and lays the groundwork for possible presidential run_freckle removal mackay

Tom LoBiancoTom LoBianco·Reporter·4 min read

Former Vice President Mike Pence has spent the past week outmaneuvering Donald Trump, his old boss and potential 2024 primary opponent.

Shortly after the plane Trump was flying on last weekend was forced to land due to an engine failure, Pence flew to Israel on the private jet of the GOP’s most prized donor, Miriam Adelson. And while Trump was avoiding criticizing Russian President Vladimir Putin in a call-in interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity, Pence and his wife, Karen, flew to the border between Ukraine and Poland to distribute relief aid to refugees.

Ukrainian refugees walk on a bridge at the buffer zone with the border with Poland in western Ukraine.
Ukrainian refugees on a bridge at the buffer zone with the Polish border on March 6. (Daniel Leal/AFP via Getty Images)

In perhaps the most telling indication that the political dynamic between the two men has shifted, Pence implicitly hit Trump at a Republican National Committee speech last Friday, saying the GOP should not include any “apologists for Putin.”

“Welcome to the front end of the Pence boomlet,” said veteran Republican pollster Michael Cohen, who has no relation to the former Trump lawyer. “Who had a better week or past few weeks than Pence? I mean, it’s not even close.”

When Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine, he not only resolidified the old Western alliances formed in the wake of World War II, he also shook up the Republican Party’s power dynamics, at least temporarily.

The longtime center of power on the right, Trump has been struggling to garner attention for himself after six years of almost unilaterally controlling the national stage. And Pence, who’s best known for being stiff, boring and deferential to the former president, has walked into the center of the vacuum created by Trump's absence.

Pence has even grabbed prime slots on Fox News, making news in an interview with one of Trump’s favorite hosts, Maria Bartiromo. Bartiromo pressed Pence repeatedly on his plans for 2024, and whether he would run against Trump if the former president enters the race. But Pence played coy, brushing away the questions.

“I’m confident the Republican Party will nominate a candidate who will be the next president of the United States of America, and at the right time, my family and I will reflect and consider how we might participate in that process,” Pence said.


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