By Corey Kendig
‘Uphill’ does not begin to describe the comeback Pence needed to pull off.
Vice President Mike Pence has officially ended his bid for the presidency. While he was not a favorite to win the nomination, this news is truly saddening.
I believe that I was one of the biggest supporters of Mike Pence, and have always liked him. I was extremely excited when President Donald Trump announced that he was his running mate in 2016, and I was proud of his stance to uphold the Constitution on January 6, 2021. When applying to colleges, I even wrote about how I admired Mike Pence due to his attitude toward being a Christian leader.
Against All Odds
Pence’s odds were never good to begin with. He said in his concession speech: “we always knew this would be an uphill battle, but I have no regrets.” Yet, uphill does not begin to describe the Everest-type comeback that Pence needed to pull off in order to even compete with the leading candidates. But how could a well-known political figure like Pence even be in this situation to begin with? I’ve identified a few reasons as to why the Pence White House may never have been a possible scenario in 2024.
One place to look is the reason he even was seriously considered a possible candidate in the first place: his time as VP. During Pence’s time in the Trump administration, he didn’t exactly make a name for himself. To his credit, and possibly his chagrin, it’s kind of hard when your boss is Donald Trump. But the “Trump-Pence 2020” signs should have gotten him more than 1% in the polls.
Perhaps Mike Pence was paradoxically too tied to Trump and not too tied to Trump. The “Never-Trump” side of the Republican party was too fed up. In a speech by Dispatch commentator Kevin Williamson at an AEI policy summit, I watched Williamson tear into Pence for his complacency in the Trump administration. Williamson even went as far as to say that if Pence was truly a man of faith, he would have left before January 6th even happened. While I would not go that far, Pence certainly did not voice much discomfort with his role in the administration before Jan. 6.
Pence is a man of faith who swore to uphold the Constitution. I believe that he served his role in a Christian manner. Unfortunately, God never promises votes to those who follow him.
In a crowded Republican field, it pays to stand out from the rest of the crowd. Trump is an obvious outlier, but other candidates such as Nikki Haley and Vivek Ramaswamy have certainly stood out (for better or worse, your call). Another unfortunate aspect hindering the Pence campaign was the fact that he was running in the same election as South Carolina Senator Tim Scott. Scott essentially fills the same role in the commercial sense: an outspoken evangelical with experience serving a swing state. I first encountered Scott after he gave the Republican response to the 2021 inaugural address. During that press conference, he seemed poised to be a prime candidate in the upcoming election. Scott may not be as well known as Pence, but he pleases the same audience Pence would.
Pence’s candidacy felt like a campaign of maybes. Maybe if he had not associated so much with Trump he could have polled higher. Maybe if he bided his time he could have shaken the Trump connection and been the leading evangelical candidate. While a great man, Mike Pence will not be president in 2024 but I look forward to following his career in the years to come.
About the Author
Corey Kendig is a senior history and political science major from Marietta, Pennsylvania, and a content editor for Checkpoint News. He is the Executive Citations Editor at the Grove City Journal of Law & Public Policy and a member of the American Enterprise Institute Collegiate Network.
Corey writes as a freelance journalist for several publications. He has written for notable organizations such as The Federalist, College Fix, and the James G. Martin Institute. He has interned at the United States House of Representatives and the Pennsylvania Family Institute. He is a Marketing Fellow with the Institute for Faith & Freedom.
Image: Gage Skidmore, orig. Flickr. Wikimedia Commons (cropped). License.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed are those of the writer alone and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grove City College, the Institute for Faith and Freedom, or their affiliates.