The former vice president has spent the last year laying the groundwork for a 2024 campaign — launching a nonprofit policy group, huddling with major donors and stumping for midterm candidates. Pence has also stood by his decision to refuse Trump’s pressure to overturn the results of the 2020 election, and he has urged the party to move beyond the last presidential contest, drawing sharp criticism from the former president.
“Elections are about the future, and frankly the opposition would love nothing more for conservatives to talk about the past or to talk of the mess they’ve made of the president,” Pence said on a Wednesday afternoon conference call with POLITICO and several other news outlets, where he previewed his policy agenda.
“And I think by relentlessly focusing on the future we can stop the radical left, we can turn this country around, we can win the Congress and state houses back in 2022, and we can win back America in 2024 and beyond,” he added.
Pence’s agenda does include a section on election reform, in which he calls for mandatory voter identification, a prohibition on in-person voting more than 10 days before an election and says mail-in voting should be “rare.” But it makes no mention of the 2020 race.
His platform also takes a stand against Russian President Vladimir Putin, who Trump recently described as a “genius.” It says that “Russia harms American interests by threatening American allies,” and that “Putin undermines freedom and democracy at home and abroad.”
Pence has been stepping up his criticism of Trump. During a recent appearance before a Republican National Committee-hosted donor retreat in New Orleans, the former vice president declared that “elections are about the future” and said there was “no room in this party for apologists for Putin.
“He strongly believes it’s important to have a forward-looking agenda for the American people and not look backward,” Marc Short, Pence’s former chief of staff, said on the Wednesday call.
The war of words has gone both ways, with Trump attacking Pence for refusing to overturn the 2020 election. Trump also pushed back on Pence during his own appearance before the RNC donor conference, insisting that “there’s no one who’s ever been tougher on Russia than me.”
Pence has been among the most politically active of the prospective 2024 candidates. He has made trips to three early-voting primary states, stumped for now-Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin and fundraised for several Republican congressional candidates. Last year, he hosted a donor retreat in Jackson Hole, Wyo., for Advancing American Freedom, the nonprofit group through which Pence is releasing his policy blueprint.
Pence is not the first would-be 2024 Republican candidate to release a policy agenda, a longstanding practice of those prepping national campaigns. Last month, Florida Sen. Rick Scott laid out a 31-page plan which drew fierce pushback from his GOP colleagues over its support for an income tax hike on a large number of Americans.
Pence’s plan, by contrast, includes no such income tax hike.
“We are not looking to increase the tax burden on the American people,” Short said.