Former Vice President Mike Pence took the gentlest of swipes at Donald Trump and his 2020 obsession on Tuesday, saying politics had to be about building for the future rather than looking back.
It came at the end of a speech in which he set out his ‘freedom agenda’ and roadmap for American conservatism.
He celebrated the Supreme Court‘s decision to dump Roe v Wade on ‘the ash heap of history.’
‘We must not tire until we’ve restored the sanctity of life at the centre of American law in every state in the nation,’ he said.
‘We save the babies, we’ll save America.’
But, on the day after one of Pence’s top advisers confirmed he had appeared before a January 6 grand jury, all eyes were on whether the former vice president would refer to his former boss.
Tuesday offers a split screen for Republicans, with Trump returning to Washington D.C. for the first time since leaving office to deliver a speech at the America First Policy Institute later in the day as he continues to fan speculation about a 2024 campaign.
First Pence had the chance to lay out a framework for his own potential run before being asked by an audience member about divisions with Trump.
Former Vice President Mike Pence went first with a speech in Washington D.C. in which he urged conservatives to look to the next election – not the last one – in a swipe at his former boss. Donald Trump is due to speak later in the day in his first D.C. speech since leaving office
Pence laid out his ‘freedom agenda’ as a roadmap for conservatives. He is widely expected to announce a run for president early in the new year
Pence said he was proud of the achievements of the Trump-Pence administrations, including appointing conservative judges and securing the southern border.
‘I don’t know that the president and I differ on issues,’ he said carefully in front of an audience at the Young America’s Foundation event.
‘But we may differ on focus.
‘I truly do believe that elections are about the future. And that it is absolutely essential at a time when so many Americans are hurting, so many families are struggling, that we don’t give way to the temptation to look back.
‘But I think the time has come for us to offer a bold, positive agenda to bring America back.’
In contrast, Trump continues to use his public appearances to relitigate his 2020 election defeat and complain that the vote was rigged.
The events of January 6 – when a horde of Trump supporters ransacked the U.S. Capitol – have become a wedge between former president and his deputy.
Trump repeatedly accused Pence of lacking the courage to overturn the election result, and some of the president’s supporters chanted that they wanted to hang the vice president.
The result is the two leaders of the last administration shaping up as 2024 contenders.
Pence is expected to publish a memoir of his time in office in the new year. And also announced on Tuesday another memoir coming later this year.
‘Excited to announce that “So Help Me God” will be available on November 15,’ he wrote on Twitter. ‘It is my story of faith and public service for the country I love so much!’
Pence had been due to appear a day earlier at the Heritage Foundation. However, his appearance at the conservative thinktank had to be postponed when his plane could not land because of bad weather.
His speech had been billed as a major roadmap for conservatives to connect with voters.
Instead, he delivered his remarks in front of a younger audience on Tuesday.
‘There is a cure for what ails America. And that is leadership committed to American freedom,’ he said.
‘Now more than ever, we need to lead America with a freedom agenda focused on the future.’
He linked his policy recommendations to an agenda based on liberty, giving power to individuals rather than institutions.
‘I know Congress can’t solve every problem facing our country and it shouldn’t try,’ he said.
‘A careful study of Congress shows that throughout our history, Congress has done two things well: Nothing and overreact.
‘And so our freedom agenda is about equipping Americans just like you to be able to make the case for freedom, with your neighbours and friends and families and co workers.’
He was able to wrap in the nation’s culture wars to the framework.
‘If we allow the radical left to continue dumping toxic waste into the headwaters of our culture.
‘Politics will get more poisonous than ever.
‘You know the American people are proud of our culture.
‘They believe it’s worth protecting for future generations. As Americans, we believe in those timeless ideals of life and liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.’
A day earlier, key Pence aide Marc Short confirmed that he had appeared before a January 6 grand jury but said he could not discuss any details of his testimony
That began with the sanctity of life, he continued.
‘Our freedom agenda calls for advancing pro-life protections in every state in the union. Every single one.
‘Call for expanding support for women in crisis pregnancies to support the unborn and support the newborn with equal American generosity.
‘We call for reforming adoption laws so more forever families can be formed, because you can’t be pro-life if you’re not pro-adoption.
‘Finally we call for ending all taxpayer funding of abortion and defunding Planned Parenthood, once and for all.
A day earlier, Marc Short, who was chief of staff to Pence when he was vice president, confirmed he had testified before a federal grand jury investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 violence.
‘I did receive a subpoena for the federal grand jury and I complied with that subpoena,’ Short told CNN.
But he said he could not discuss any details of his testimony.
Published by Associated Newspapers Ltd
Part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday & Metro Media Group