Mike Pence files paperwork for his losing presidential campaign

Mike Pence on NewsNation
Mike Pence on NewsNation Photo: Screenshot

Mike Pence has made it official: he’s every bit the masochist that you thought he was — oh, and he’s also running for president. He filed the necessary paperwork earlier today.

In what has to be one of the worst cases of not being able to read the room, Donald Trump’s former vice president somehow believes that he really has a shot at winning the Republican nomination for president.

At present, Pence is running at about four percent in the polls, which is a pathetic figure for a former vice president. That puts him behind Nikki Haley and barely ahead of entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, whom virtually no one has heard of.

However, Republicans have heard of Mike Pence. And they despise him.

A recent article in The Atlantic provides insights from a focus group of Republican voters. Across four different focus groups of 34 GOP voters, only four said they would even consider voting for Pence — and two of them quickly convinced themselves that they wouldn’t.

The voter comments are about what you’d expect. MAGA followers are infuriated that he wouldn’t throw out the Electoral College results on January 6, 2021.

But much more interesting are the comments of other Republicans who just view Pence as too aligned with Trump. “I think he put a stain on himself for any normal Republican when he joined the Trump administration,” one voter said.

Moreover, Pence’s Mr. Nice Guy personality seemed to be more of a liability than an asset. “I don’t like how Trump was just in your face with everything, but Pence is almost too far in the other direction,” one focus group member said.

In short, Pence has no constituency within the GOP.

This revelation is hardly what he expected when he signed up with Trump in 2016. Pence has always seen himself as ordained by God to become president of the United States. By becoming Trump’s running mate, he must have assumed God was positioning him for a spot in 2020, never imagining that Trump would win.

Back then, Pence was the man who sanctified Trump for conservative evangelicals. It’s hard to recall now, but in 2016 the religious right wasn’t so sure about supporting a philandering casino owner. Pence’s presence on the ticket was meant to reassure them that Trump was going to keep his promises to be the conservative evangelicals’ savior.

And what better person than Pence to do it? He had impeccable credentials, particularly when it came to his opposition to LGBTQ rights. Indeed, it was Pence’s ineptitude as governor in pushing a religious liberty bill that essentially legalized anti-LGBTQ discrimination that made him a national figure — and largely a laughing stock. He was so unpopular that his fellow Republicans were happy to offload him on Trump instead of having him run for governor again.

As vice president, Pence dutifully kowtowed to Trump, while carrying out his own anti-LGBTQ agenda. (Trump joked that Pence thought it was “a crime to be gay.”)

Pence’s willingness to stand up for the Constitution on January 6 was admirable, but by then Trump had already stolen Pence’s evangelical constituency. With his appointments to the Supreme Court, who helped overturn abortion rights nationwide Trump had won their loyalty. More to the point, they wanted a fighter, like Trump, not a softie like Pence.

By making his announcement in Iowa, Pence seems to be betting that the state’s large evangelical voting bloc will remember his past service and return to him. He’s playing to the base by running anti-trans ads and making homophobic cracks about Pete Buttigieg.

It won’t work. Mike Pence sold his soul to Donald Trump for the sake of his presidential dreams. Just like everyone else has learned, every Trump touches dies.

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