The opinions expressed by contributors are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of RedState.com.
If Mike Pence wants to be taken seriously as a 2024 presidential contender, he needs to start defining himself through decisiveness, not the milquetoast not takes (as opposed to hot takes) he’s prone to give on any number of issues. Take, for instance, the House J6 committee and its recommendation that the DOJ pursue charges against Donald Trump over January 6. Pence appeared on Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom” and told hosts Dana Perino and Bill Hemmer, “Congress has no formal role in Justice Department decisions and they can make recommendations today,” adding: “As I wrote in my book, I think the president’s actions and words on January 6th were reckless.”
It’s clear that the former vice president thinks Trump’s actions that day were more than just “reckless,” and he comes *this close* to condemning Trump but opts for the middle ground instead. Yes, they could charge him, but, no, they shouldn’t charge him. Said Pence:
“But when it comes to the Justice Department’s decision about bringing charges in the future, I would hope that they would not bring charges against the former president … As I wrote in my book, I think the president’s actions and words on January 6th were reckless. But I don’t know that it is criminal to take bad advice from lawyers. And so I hope the Justice Department is careful.”
Mike Pence is walking the tightest of tightropes, trying to use his time as Trump’s vice president as a building block for a presidential campaign, while also trying desperately to distance himself from his former boss. In the case of the J6 committee’s recommendation, Pence would have looked much stronger had he not used his “reckless” qualifier, and just charged ahead and stated, if he truly believes it, that Congress had no business making such a move and the DOJ should not act on the partisan committee’s recommendation.
What Mike Pence truly believes is sometimes hard to suss out. Yes, he has a long record to run on, having served as a congressman, governor, and vice president. Policy-wise, he’s a tried and true conservative. He was a friend to the Tea Party and ticked off all the right people when he signed a religious freedom bill into law back in 2015, when he was governor of Indiana. But, we’re (possibly? probably? maybe?) in a post-Trump era, where cutthroat politics is the norm and conservatives have to sometimes commit to scorched earth policies to combat the left and its corporate media lapdogs. Judging from Mike Pence’s dealings with the January 6 topic, it’s right to question whether he has what it takes to thread the needle on Trump, take on the left, and distinguish himself as the candidate to beat in 2024.
This really isn’t a knock on Pence; he is simply just a nice guy. I had the pleasure of meeting him a few times back in the Tea Party days and he was approachable, kind, and exceedingly humble. We took the same plane to a grassroots event in Las Vegas, and I caught up to him on the airport train to the terminal. I had been impressed by him traveling with one staff member and lugging his own bags. This is not the norm for DC power players, so Mike Pence is clearly cut from different cloth.
But, again, we’re in the post-Trump world and nice guys (and gals) on the right don’t stand a chance against the leftist machine — they have to have the fight of a Donald Trump to win. The Mike Pences of the world have the unenviable task of having to figure out how to neutralize Trump while also embracing Trump. J6 is sure to be a topic that carries into the 2024 presidential election, so any potential candidate, and especially Mike Pence, need to figure out that particular conundrum. Like yesterday.