Former Vice President Mike Pence gave his most explicit denouncement of former President Donald Trump’s bid to overturn the 2020 election results on Jan. 6 during a speech Thursday.
Pence defended his actions on Jan. 6 in a speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, insisting that he was following the Constitution in certifying President Joe Biden’s victory. Trump and his allies had repeatedly urged Pence to hand the election to him in the days before the ratification, and a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol, disrupting the certification process.
“I will always be proud that we did our part on that tragic day to reconvene the Congress and fulfilled our duty under the Constitution and the laws of the United States,” Pence said, reminding attendees that he had no constitutional authority to deem states’ electoral votes invalid. “The truth is, there is almost no idea more un-American than the notion that any one person could choose the American president.”
Though Pence described Jan. 6 as “a dark day in the history of the United States of America” and praised “the swift action of Capitol Police and law enforcement” who responded to the attack, he did not criticize Trump by name. (RELATED: Trump Says The Capitol Riot Was The Result Of A Stolen Election)
While he defended his constitutionally-outlined role that day, Pence said that he understood “the disappointment many feel” over the election’s outcome.
“I can relate. I was on the ballot,” he said. “But, you know, there’s more at stake than our party and our political fortunes in this moment. If we lose faith in the Constitution, we won’t just lose elections. We’ll lose our country.”
Thursday’s speech was not the first time Pence has tried to distance himself from his former boss over Jan. 6. During a speech in New Hampshire in mid-June, Pence said that he and the former president may never “see eye to eye on that day.”
Hours before the attack, Trump told his supporters that he hoped Pence “would do the right thing” and overturn Biden’s victory. After Pence declined to do so, Trump tweeted that he “didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done” as his own supporters moved through the Capitol and forced both Pence and lawmakers off the House and Senate floors. (RELATED: Trump, As His Supporters Storm The US Capitol, Lashes Out At Pence For Refusing To Overturn Election)
Despite breaking with Trump over the sixth, Pence praised him Thursday and even compared him to former President Ronald Reagan.
“President Donald Trump is also one of a kind. He, too, disrupted the status quo. He challenged the establishment. He invigorated our movement. And he set a bold new course for America in the 21st century,” Pence said. “And now, as then, there is no going back.”
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