Pence drops out of GOP presidential primary

There is one less Republican presidential primary candidate today. Former Vice President Mike Pence left the race on Saturday. He made the surprise announcement during his appearance at the Republican Jewish Coalition donor conference in Las Vegas.

Pence is the first big-name candidate to drop out of the primary race.

“Traveling over the country over the past six months, I came here to say it’s become clear to me: This is not my time. So after much prayer and deliberation, I have decided to suspend my campaign for president effective today,” Pence told the audience to gasps and, later, prolonged claps and cheers of support.

“I urge all my fellow Republicans here, give our country a Republican standard-bearer that will, as Lincoln said, appeal to the better angels of our nature,” Pence said, adding it should also be someone who leads the country with “civility.”

Pence’s campaign never really took off. His polling numbers remained in the low single digits and he struggled in fundraising. He admits he knew his chances were slim. Pence was not popular with independents or moderate Republicans for his association with Donald Trump. He wasn’t popular with Trump supporters because they believed Trump when Trump told them that Pence could deny Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election. Pence did his constitutional duty and they have not forgiven him for that.

Pence is a long-time Republican politician who falls more into the Establishment Republican part of the party than the populist Trump wing. Republican primary voters were never going to boost his candidacy. He is a good man, a solid conservative, and served the country well. Just laugh at those who label him as a RINO or disloyal to Trump. He was a loyal partner to Trump for four years.

While speaking in Las Vegas, Nevada on Saturday night, Trump reacted to Pence’s decision to drop out of the race saying, “Everybody that leaves seems to be endorsing me. You know people are leaving now, and they’re all endorsing me. I don’t know about Mike Pence; he should endorse me. He should endorse me, you know why? Because I had a great successful presidency, and he was the vice president. He should endorse me.”

Continuing, Trump added, “I chose him, made him vice president, but people, people in politics can be very disloyal.”

Trump referenced other Republicans who have dropped out but most were not well-known or had no chance of receiving the nomination. So far, Mayor Francis Suarez, Perry Johnson, Will Hurd, and Larry Elder have dropped out. As far as I know, only Johnson and Elder have endorsed Trump. Hurd, for example, framed his campaign as a candidate who simply wanted to stop Trump from getting the nomination, which is a lane filled by Chris Christie. Suarez, the first to drop out, said he is keeping in touch with the other candidates and will continue to work with the party.

The loyalty demand from Trump is not something that exists in politics. Some of the other candidates posted complimentary comments about Pence after he withdrew Saturday.

"Vice President Mike Pence is a principled man of faith who has worked tirelessly to advance the conservative cause. Casey and I appreciate Mike and Karen for their willingness to put themselves forward in this campaign and wish the Pence family well in their next steps," Ron DeSantis said.

Nikki Haley opened her speech to the donor conference with warm words for Pence.

"I want to first say just a special point to Vice President Mike Pence. He’s been a good man of faith. He’s been a good man of service. He has fought for America and he has fought for Israel. And we all owe him a debt of gratitude. It’s great to be back at the RJC. I have to say, I wish we were meeting," Haley said.

The primary race is not over. Not a single vote has been cast. Right now, DeSantis and Haley are battling to be the runner-up to Trump. It remains to be seen what happens with Trump’s legal battles as the primary progresses. Trump’s lead is strong.

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