Former Vice President Mike Pence is set to field questions from Iowa voters in a CNN town hall soon after officially announcing off his bid for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination earlier in the day.
Here are some key things to watch for in the event:
Pence vs. Trump on Capitol riot: Pence was a loyalist of former President Donald Trump through their two campaigns as running mates and four years in office. But the two had a public falling-out after Trump urged Pence to attempt to overturn the results by rejecting some swing states’ Electoral College votes. Pence insisted he had no constitutional authority to do so in his ceremonial role presiding over Congress as those votes were counted.
Pence first took on his former boss in a February 2022 speech in which he was critical of the pressure Trump privately and publicly heaped on him.
“President Trump was wrong,” Pence said then. “I had no right to overturn the election.”
He has also said Trump endangered Pence’s family, which was in the Capitol on January 6. Trump was slow to release a message telling his supporters to stop attacking the Capitol while Pence was inside and some of the mob were chanting death threats against him.
Trump has continued to repeat falsehoods about voter fraud, which millions of his supporters have bought into, and he once again refused to concede that he lost during a CNN town hall last month.
It’s not yet clear to what extent Pence is willing to place his differences with Trump over the aftermath of the 2020 election at the center of his campaign. Pence’s campaign announcement video, released early Wednesday, does not mention Trump.
Wednesday’s town hall will shed light on how the former vice president plans to approach the issue.
New messages from Pence? Pence has been a regular speaker at conservative gatherings for months. But this week, when he filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to officially enter the 2024 race, the ground shifted.
Now that he is a candidate, Pence will have to repair his image in the eyes of many conservatives who cast him aside after Trump’s 2020 loss (and in some cases have booed him since).
He’ll have to offer a message that stands on its own, outside the context of his relationship with the former president.
CNN’s town hall – following his official campaign launch earlier in the day – will be an important opportunity to begin to do just that.
The Iowa caucuses, which kick off the GOP nominating process in early 2024, will likely be crucial to Pence’s hopes.
“Iowa feels more like Indiana than any other state in the nation,” he said in Des Moines last month.