Does Pence have a path to the presidency?
Contemporary prevailing wisdom says “no.” The theory goes like this. Pence will never have the support of the hardcore Trump base. And obviously, that would be even more true if President Trump were to run for a second term.
Even if Trump is not in the race, there are better candidates to put together a winning coalition composed of Trump base voters and Republican conservatives who are not tied to Trump exclusively. Pence could even attract some of the disaffected Republicans who left the GOP reservation because of Trump.
Allow me to emphasize. That latter group is not composed of those who abandoned both the Republican Party and the conservative movement to become high-visibility apostates for Democrats – the folks you see drawing fame and fortune from their frequent appearances on left-leaning media. Rather, I am referring to the millions of grassroots voters who maintain their belief in conservative principles – but were driven away from Trump because of his pugnacious personality.
The Pence haters-by-proxy will always be there. They are the folks who believe that Pence had the power to stop the certification and should have done so. That is the Trump position – and consequently many of his personal loyalists.
Anyone who has a modicum of understanding of the constitutional process and the magisterial role of the Vice President would know that Pence did exactly what he was empowered to do by the Constitution. Only the members of Congress can vote to reject certification – and that vote fell short.
Had he called off the certification unilaterally, it would not have changed the results of the election. It would have only further delayed the certification by days at most. The issue would have been tossed to the Supreme Court on an emergency basis. In such a case, I would have bet that it would have been a 9-to-0 decision forcing the certification of the election – on the basis that the Vice President abused his authority.
We have to keep in mind that Pence is a very effective speaker and campaigner. Since his days as a radio talk-show host – and his years in Congress – Pence has had a reputation for being persuasive – an ability to disagree without being disagreeable.
Pence’s biggest challenge would be handling Trump – either as an opponent or a powerful voice against Pence. He would have to do what any candidate opposed by Trump would have to do. Not get into the harsh verbal exchanges and childish insults – actually make light of Trump’s attacks. A bit of a chuckle – and a “here we go again.”
Pence would have to avoid being cast as Trump with a better personality. That is the danger Florida Governor Ron DeSantis already is facing.
Running against Trump means you never talk about the 2020 presidential election other than it is settled … over … fini. By the time the 2024 presidential election is on the horizon, the entire atmosphere of America will be different. We will be past the 2022 midterm elections. Many of Trump’s more serious legal issues will be resolved.
There are a number of Republican candidates who can be competitive in 2024 no matter what Trump decides. I just would not prematurely exclude Pence from the list – even though it is a steep climb.
So, there ‘tis.