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Pence launches 2024 presidential bid, takes aim at Trump

ANKENY, Iowa (WISH) — Former Vice President and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence drew a clear line between himself and his old boss on Wednesday as he launched his bid for the White House in 2024.

The events of Jan. 6, 2021, figured prominently in Pence’s remarks before a small group of supporters at a community college in Ankeny, just north of Des Moines. Pence said voters will face the same choice in the Republican primary that he did on the day of the attack on the U.S. Capitol: whether to support Donald Trump or the Constitution of the United States.

“I believe that anybody who puts themselves over the Constitution should never be president of the United States and anyone who asks someone else to put them over the Constitution should never be president of the United States again,” he said.

Pence joins an already-crowded field. Besides himself and Trump, Pence faces Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson. North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum launched his own bid on the same day as Pence.

Pence hit on many of the same themes as those candidates, attacking what he called woke ideology in classrooms and corporations and decrying the now-$31 trillion national debt. In another break with Trump, Pence said he wanted significant changes to Medicare and Social Security. Both programs are projected to become insolvent within the next decade.

The Columbus, Indiana native said civility would play a key role in a potential Pence Administration. He said he would stand firm on his principles but would do so in a way that appeals to the basic decency of the American people.

“We need leaders who can distinguish between starting fights and finishing them, between the politics of outrage and standing firm,” he said.

Supporters of the former vice president said his character sets him apart from the rest of the field. Jammie Bradshaw, a resident of Montezuma, Iowa, said she identified with Pence’s background.

“He’s a very down-to-earth, very likeable, trustworthy person,” she said.

Jada Williams drove to Iowa from Arkansas to see Pence launch his campaign. She said she was excited to see what Pence had in mind.

“Honestly, he has type of character, his background and everything makes it easy to support him,” she said. “It also makes it easy to understand where he’s coming from.”

Pence faces an uphill battle in the Republican primary. Newly-released polling data from data analysis firm Morning Consult put him in third place among the Republican field, with 7% of likely GOP voters saying they would support him. The same poll indicated 56% of voters favored Trump and 22% favored DeSantis. FiveThirtyEight’s running average of favorability polls for Pence show roughly 46% of voters have an unfavorable view of him while 35% view him favorably, an 11-percentage point gap.