Pence swipes at Trump on Ukraine, entitlements at RNC retreat

Former Vice President Mike Pence on Friday took aim at former President Donald Trump and other potential GOP presidential candidates as he laid out his vision for 2024 to Republican donors.

Pence, in remarks at the Republican National Committee’s (RNC) spring donor retreat in Nashville, Tenn., argued that the party could not afford to remain fixated on the past or follow a cult of personality at the expense of policy — a clear swipe at Trump as the former vice president weighs whether to challenge his old boss for the 2024 nomination.

“We need leaders with the courage to speak hard truths, and have faith that the American people will rally to our cause,” Pence was expected to say, according to excerpts obtained by The Hill. “We must resist the temptation to put what is popular over what is wise, and resist the politics of personality and the lure of populism unmoored to timeless conservative values.”

The former Indiana governor also took aim at the policies offered by the likes of Trump, who is a declared candidate for 2024, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), who is expected to get into the race in the coming weeks.

He implicitly criticized the Florida governor and Trump for saying the war in Ukraine is not in the national interest of the United States, arguing those who believe America must choose between “prosperity at home and security abroad…have a pretty small view of the greatest nation on earth.”

Pence was also expected to call out Trump for his call for Republicans not to touch Social Security or Medicare in upcoming negotiations over raising the debt ceiling. The former vice president has been the rare outspoken Republican who has been adamant that long-term changes to social welfare programs will be necessary, though he has mostly referred to the general need for “common sense” reforms.

“Seventy percent of our nation’s budget is entitlements. And Joe Biden won’t even discuss common sense reforms,” Pence’s remarks said. “Joe Biden’s policy is insolvency. And sadly, our former president has echoed Biden’s pledge “not to touch” Social Security. I think we owe my three granddaughters better.

In another subtle dig at Trump and some others vying for the 2024 nomination, Pence lamented that many Republicans were running away from the issue of abortion in the wake of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, according to his prepared remarks.

Pence has embraced the Trump administration’s legacy of confirming three Supreme Court justices that helped overturn Roe, and he has been outspoken about his desire to see states pass more restrictive abortion laws.

But many Republicans have tried to sidestep the issue in the wake of losses at the ballot box, an issue that was compounded last week with a federal judge’s ruling invalidating the FDA’s approval of mifepristone, a popular abortion medication.

Trump is also scheduled to address Friday’s RNC retreat in Nashville, which came just weeks after a shooting at a local Christian school left three children and three staffers dead.

Pence, who said Friday morning on “Fox & Friends” that he expected to make a decision about whether to run for president in 2024 in a matter of “weeks, and not months,” has attempted to carve out a potential lane for himself as a devotee to conservative policy ideals, while also leaning on the legislative record of the Trump administration.

But polling has thus far shown Pence has a fairly steep climb to catch up to Trump and DeSantis.

A Morning Consult poll released Tuesday found Trump with 56 percent of the vote among a group of current and potential GOP challengers for the nomination, with DeSantis in second with 23 percent. Pence polled in third place with 7 percent.

Pence told “Fox & Friends” on Friday that he was not concerned about whether he was waiting too long to get into the race, saying he trusted Republican primary voters would choose the best path for the party to win back the White House.

In his remarks to donors, Pence was also expected to make the case that the best path was one focused on traditional GOP values.

“It’s becoming clearer every day that the upcoming Republican primaries will not just be a contest of candidates but a conflict of visions,” Pence’s prepared remarks said.

“One vision grounded in traditional Republican principles, and another vision driven by the promise of winning at the expense of our highest ideals,” he continued. “We will win if we run boldly as Republicans. We will lose if we run away from that proven American agenda.”

Tags Debt limit Donald Trump medicare Mike Pence Mike Pence Nashville RNC Ron DeSantis social security ukraine

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