Pence Joins Ex-Trump Officials in Withholding Endorsement of Former President

Former Vice President Mike Pence joined a growing list of former Trump officials in refusing to endorse their former boss on Friday, Mar. 15. Pence appeared on Fox News where he said he “cannot in good conscience endorse Donald Trump,” the man whom he worked side by side with for four years. It’s the first time in U.S. history that a vice president has refused to back the president they served with.
Pence, who dropped out of the 2024 Republican primary in October, pledged to eventually support the Republican nominee, which is expected to be Trump. During the interview Pence said, “During my presidential campaign, I made it clear there were profound differences between me and President Trump on a range of issues. And not just our difference on my constitutional duties that I exercised January 6.”

On Jan. 6, 2021, Pence broke with Trump and refused to de-certify the results of the 2020 presidential election. Also during Friday’s interview, Pence attacked Trump’s views: “As I have watched his candidacy unfold, I’ve seen him walking away from our commitment to confronting the national debt. I’ve seen him starting to shy away from a commitment to the sanctity of human life. And this last week, his reversal on getting tough on China and supporting our administration’s efforts to force a sale of ByteDance’s TikTok.”
The refusal to endorse Trump by his own vice president is a stunning repudiation of his former running mate and president. Pence previously said of Trump, “I believe anyone that puts themselves over the Constitution should never be president of the United States.”

While he said he would not vote for President Biden, Pence now joins a growing list of former top level Trump administration officials who are refusing to back his candidacy in 2024. In fact, as of when this article was written, only four of the 44 cabinet officials who served under Trump have publicly backed his re-election campaign. Rex Tillerson, who served as Secretary of State from 2017-2018, has called Trump’s understanding of world events “very limited,” and even went so far as to call him, “a moron.” Mike Pompeo, who followed Tillerson as Secretary of State until 2021 attacked Trump over his handling of classified documents following Trump’s Florida indictment, but did say he would serve in another Trump administration if asked.

Trump’s first Secretary of Defense from 2017-2019, General James Mattis, said Trump’s actions following January 6 “will live in infamy as profiles in cowardice.” Mark Esper, who served from 2019-2020, said Trump’s actions on January 6, “threatens our democracy.”

His last defense secretary, Christopher Miller, never confirmed by the Senate, said he “cannot wait to leave” office following the Capitol attack. Mark Milley, Trump’s Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff called Trump a “wannabe dictator.” John Bolton who served as the National Security Advisor to Trump from 2018-2019 said, “I think it is a danger to the United States if he gets a second term.”

John Kelly, who served as Trump’s first chief of staff for two years said of Trump, “he is the most flawed person I have ever met,” and recently told reporters Trump praised Hitler and said “[Hitler] did some good things.” Trump’s second chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, said he will forever be remembered for working, “for the guy who tried to overtake the government.” Trump has also been called out by his former Attorney General Bill Barr, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, and Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, especially for his language and rhetoric following the 2020 election and January 6.

However, Trump continues to dominate the Republican field, and with former South Carolina Governor and Trump’s UN Ambassador Nikki Haley dropping out, Trump has won enough delegates to secure the Republican nomination. Given the extreme unlikelihood of another Trump-Pence campaign, Trump has mentioned or alluded to about a dozen vice presidential picks; U.S. Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, U.S. Senator J.D. Vance of Ohio, U.S. Senator Katie Britt of Alabama, Governor Greg Abbott of Texas, Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders of Arkansas, Governor Kristi Noem of South Dakota, U.S. Representative Elise Stefanik of New York, U.S. Representative Byron Donalds of Florida, former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson, 2022 gubernatorial candidate for Governor of Arizona Kari Lake, and 2024 presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy.

While his former cabinet and administration officials are not endorsing him, many who have previously criticized Trump have endorsed him. U.S. Senator and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said in 2021, “President Trump is practically and morally responsible” for the events of January 6th, but last week endorsed Trump. McConnell is the husband to Trump’s Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, who Trump has publicly attacked based on her Chinese heritage. In 2020, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp endorsed Trump despite the personal attacks from Trump after Kemp certified Biden as the winner of Georgia in the 2020 election. Trump called Kemp, “a coward and a complete and total disaster.” Trump even recruited a primary challenger for Kemp in the 2022 midterms. Despite this, Kemp has endorsed Trump’s 2024 bid. New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu once said Trump belonged in a mental institution and called him an “a**hole,” after Trump called Sununu a “spoiled bat.” Sununu has now also endorsed the former president.

All in all, both Trump and President Biden have secured enough delegates to be their respective party’s nominees for the November general election, setting up one of the harshest, most brutal presidential campaigns in modern American history.