Former Vice President Mike Pence formally launched his 2024 presidential campaign Wednesday, releasing a video that made the broad case for his candidacy amid an increasingly crowded Republican primary field.
In a nearly three-minute video, titled “Best Days,” Pence made no direct mention of former President Trump, nor is the former president featured on screen.
Instead, the former vice president narrates a video that offers a brief personal history of his family and government service and argues that the country should turn the page on President Biden without returning to Trump.
“We can turn this country around. But different times call for different leadership. Today, our party and our country need a leader who will appeal, as Lincoln said, to the better angels of our nature,” Pence said in the video.
“I have long believed to whom much is given much will be required. My family and I have been blessed beyond measure with opportunities to serve this nation. And it would be easy to stay on the sidelines,” he continued. “But that’s not how I was raised. That’s why today, before God and my family, I’m announcing I’m running for president of the United States.”
Pence in the video said he’ll “always be proud of the progress we made together for a stronger, more prosperous America,” a reference to his four years as vice president. He then cited a litany of areas where he argued the country has gone backward under the Biden administration, including inflation, border security and foreign policy.
“And worse still, timeless American values are under assault as never before,” Pence says in the video, as news chyrons about transgender athletes, drag queens and critical race theory are shown.
The video includes numerous images from his time as vice president, as well as older footage of a young Pence meeting former President Ronald Reagan. It is largely in line with Pence’s rhetoric in recent months, where he has tried to bridge the gap between carrying on Trump’s policies while presenting a forward-looking conservative vision for the nation.
“We can bring this country back. We can defend our nation and secure our border. We can revive our economy and put our nation back on a path to a balanced budget. Defend our liberties and give America a new beginning for life,” Pence says in the video, the latter a nod to his support for anti-abortion measures.
“I believe in the American people, and I have faith,” Pence said. “God is not done with America yet. And together, we can bring this country back and the best days for the greatest nation on earth are yet to come.”
Wednesday’s video launch comes two days after Pence officially filed paperwork to run for president in 2024. The former vice president is set to hold an event in Iowa on Wednesday afternoon, followed in the evening by a CNN town hall event in Des Moines.
Those events, as well as some of the religious rhetoric and agricultural imagery featured in Wednesday’s video, underscore how Pence’s path to the nomination will rely heavily on a strong finish in Iowa, where the former vice president is hoping to connect with the state’s large evangelical population.
Pence has built strong relationships over the years with evangelical voters, speaking frequently about his faith and issues that resonate with that bloc, such as abortion, school choice and religious freedom.
Ultimately, though, it remains to be seen whether there is an appetite among GOP primary voters for a Pence candidacy. A section of primary voters who still back Trump view Pence as a traitor because he did not reject the 2020 election results when he oversaw Congress’ official electoral count as vice president and instead insisted on abiding by the Constitution. And those looking for an alternative may be more drawn to candidates like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R).
Pence is consistently polling behind Trump and DeSantis in national surveys of Republican primary voters.
A CNN poll released in late May found Pence was the first choice of 6 percent of Republican and Republican-leaning primary voters, trailing Trump, who was the first choice of 53 percent of voters, and DeSantis, who was the first choice of 26 percent.
The poll also found 54 percent of those surveyed said they support or would consider supporting Pence.