“It’s become clear to me that this is not my time,” Mike Pence said Saturday before announcing that “after much prayer and deliberation, I have decided to suspend my campaign for president.” The former vice president, speaking in Las Vegas at a gathering of the Republican Jewish Coalition, vowed to “never leave the fight for conservative values” and insisted he did not regret his “uphill battle” for the presidency.
That hill was more like a unscalable cliff. As had been widely predicted, Pence’s campaign never gained traction with Republican donors or voters, the vast majority of whom with don’t yet share his desire for a post-Trump GOP, or if they did, couldn’t see Pence — who countless Republicans still blame for the demise of Trump’s unconstitutional attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 election — as a viable alternative.
Since officially starting his campaign in June, Pence has consistently ranked behind the front-running Trump and three other GOP primary candidates in national polls, and was even further behind in Iowa with the state’s caucuses now less than 90 days away.
In recent months, Pence had begun to publicly embrace his role as the principled spoiler of January 6, but it didn’t help. On Saturday, Pence said he hoped Republicans would nominate someone who’d “appeal to the better angels of our nature, and not only lead us to victory, but lead our nation with civility back to the time-honored principles that have always made America strong and prosperous and free.” Someone who is not Trump, in other words.
Pence is the first major Republican presidential candidate to drop out of the 2024 race. As Ed Kilgore noted earlier this week, there may only be three eligible candidates who participate in the next debate on November 8 (which Trump is once again expected to boycott).