Mike Pence entered the 2024 presidential race Wednesday with a frontal attack on his former boss, Donald Trump, saying he "should never be president of the United States" again.
The former vice president framed the upcoming Republican primary as an opportunity to turn the page on a president who "demanded I choose between him and our Constitution" on January 6th.
"Now voters will be faced with the same choice," he said.
Like he has done before, Pence paired his criticism of Trump with praise of the "Trump-Pence" administration and its accomplishments, including appointing the Supreme Court justices who sent Roe v. Wade "to the ash heap of history where it belongs."
But Pence also said he and Trump have "different visions" for the country that came to a head on January 6th, when Trump pressured Pence to send the 2020 election results back to the states. Pence said he has often prayed for Trump, hoping he will realize he was "misled" about Pence's role that day.
"President Trump was wrong then and he is wrong now. I will always believe, by God’s grace, I did my duty that day. I kept my oath to ensure the peaceful transfer of power under the Constitution of the United States," Pence said.
Pence added that "anyone that puts themselves over the Constitution should never be president of the United States, and anyone who asks someone else to put them over the Constitution should never be president of the United States again."
Pence urged supporters to reject "the politics of personality" and instead embrace "a traditional Republican agenda of a strong national defense, fiscal responsibility, and traditional values that led us to victory in the past and will lead us to victory again."
The hands-off approach Trump has advocated towards Ukraine would empower a "war criminal" in Vladimir Putin, Pence said, saying America has a responsibility to defend "freedom" around the world.
"The war in Ukraine is not our war but freedom is our fight," he said.
Pence also accused Trump, who has blamed abortion backlash for the GOP's recent electoral stumbles, of treating the unborn "like an inconvenience."
Trump's refusal to consider cuts to Social Security and Medicare is an expedient betrayal of future generations who will inherit the ballooning national debt, Pence said, saying Trump's stance on the issue is the same as Joe Biden's.
Trump's dominance over the field promises a challenge for any and all competitors, especially Pence, who has lost the favor of many Republicans since falling out with Trump over the 2020 election.