Former vice president and 2024 candidate Mike Pence is capitalising on Donald Trump’s recent federal indictment by drawing positive attention to his own campaign with joking merchandise and snapping back at hecklers.
While on the campaign trail in New Hampshire this past week, Mr Pence was confronted by a group of Mr Trump’s supporters who called him a “sellout” and “traitor” for refusing to falsely and unlawfully certify the 2020 election results in Mr Trump’s favor.
“Why didn’t you uphold the Constitution?” one protester shouted at Mr Pence on Friday.
Mr Pence notoriously refused to engage in Mr Trump’s alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 election which ultimately made him a target during the Capitol riots.
The ex-vice president calmly turned to the group of Trump supporters and responded, “I upheld the constitution. Read it.”
As Mr Pence pursues the White House, he has used Mr Trump’s attacks and actions in the weeks leading up to the insurrection to make himself appear to be a more honest and reliable presidential candidate.
So much so, Mr Pence has even begun selling merchandise that directly quotes Mr Trump calling him “too honest” from the most recent federal indictment against the ex-president.
The indictment, which was brought forth against Mr Trump on Tuesday, alleges that on 1 January 2021 Mr Trump tried to bully Mr Pence into joining his efforts to overturn the election. After Mr Pence refused to do so on the basis of it being improper Mr Trump allegedly told Mr Pence “You’re too honest.”
Now, on Mr Pence’s campaign website, supporters can purchase hats and T-shirts with the phrase “Too honest”.
The ex-vice president has pitched himself to Republican voters as a true conservative who can produce a more stable administration than Mr Trump. Though Mr Pence and Mr Trump worked closely together during the four years they were in office, Mr Pence has distanced himself from the ex-president.
But the former vice president has seemingly had difficulty picking up traction in his campaign as his name is forever tied to Mr Trump and January 6th. Mr Pence has yet to qualify for the first Republican National Committee debate set to occur later this month – mainly due to a lack of fundraising.
During his speech on Friday, Mr Pence tried to find common ground with protestors saying, “I’ll tell you there is a lot of passion out there.”
“But I just – I reject your suggestion that that passion is translated into the violence and vandalism of that day,” he added.