Mike Pence is polling under 5 percent in the RealClearPolitics polling average; that low number placed the former vice president at a far end on the Fox Business News debate stage Wednesday night. Pence came in six out of seven among the qualifying debate participants.
With a measly 4.2 percent, Pence is light-years behind his former boss, Donald Trump (56.6 percent), and trailing behind Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (14.4 percent), former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, (5.8 percent) and even tech bro Vivek Ramaswamy (5.1 percent).
This should not be happening. As a former veep and Indiana governor, Pence has the best CV in the GOP pack.
He’s trapped in the middle in a party that too often sees a lack of extremism as squishy.
I know, resumes aren’t everything, but prestige titles can help — just ask former South Carolina Gov. and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley.
Standing on the outside looking in — it was a sad moment for the man who served as Trump’s loyal No. 2 during Trump’s one term.
Then came Jan. 6, 2021 — when a mob chanted “Hang Mike Pence” during the Capitol insurrection. The vice president, his wife and daughter nonetheless remained in the Capitol building. They could have fled but instead remained, despite the danger, so that Pence could fulfill his constitutional duties. (READ MORE: Senseless Brawling at the Second Presidential Debate)
Now Pence is in the back of the pack, with no bright badge for his courage on Jan. 6, but also saddled with his fealty to the 45th president before then. The base won’t forgive him for putting country before Trump, and the middle won’t forgive him for supporting Trump during four roller-coaster years.
Alas, the Hoosier’s warning about the “siren song of populism” was too little too late.
I don’t see Pence picking up steam. Voters know who he is, and they’re looking elsewhere. He’s trapped in the middle in a party that too often sees a lack of extremism as squishy.
What’s next? Pence could show leadership by being the first name candidate to drop out and clear the field for a Republican — DeSantis, Haley, Scott? — with a better chance to beat Trump and the Democratic nominee in 2024.
Speaking in Michigan Wednesday night, Trump slammed the hopefuls who showed up at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library contest as job seekers looking to become his running mate.
At least they showed up. At least they made a case for their campaigns and showed voters the respect of working for their support. For his part, Trump sneered at their willingness to debate. (READ MORE: Five Quick Things: A Debate to (Hopefully) End All Debates)
“Does anybody see any VP in the group?” Trump offered during a Wednesday night speech in Michigan. “I don’t think so.”
But really, after the way Trump treated Pence and so many other Republicans who worked in his administration, who would want to share the ticket with the poor loser of 2020?
Debra J. Saunders is a fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Chapman Center for Citizen Leadership. Contact her at [email protected].
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