Mike Pence defaults to Trump, hints at 2024 marketing campaign

Former Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday pointed to sharp differences with his former boss, dismissing former President Donald Trump’s stance on the debt ceiling and Ukraine while stoking further speculation about his presidential ambitions in 2024.

“When it comes to the debt ceiling, failure is not an option,” Pence said on CNBC’s Squawk Box. “We cannot accept a default, we cannot minimize the impact it would have on American families and American credibility in the world.”

Pence’s comments came in response to a question about Trump’s recent call for Republicans to default the US if Democrats don’t agree to “massive” spending cuts. The White House and congressional leaders are in intense negotiations to avoid a default until early June, when the government could run out of money to pay its bills.

The former vice president also accused Trump and President Joe Biden of holding “identical” spending-heavy fiscal policy views, despite calling for the 2017 “Trump pence tax cuts” to be made permanent.

But when asked if cuts in defense spending could be part of a plan to return to “financial solvency”, Pence balked.

“At a time when China is literally launching a new battleship every month and continuing its military provocations in the Asia-Pacific region and Russia is waging an unprovoked war in Eastern Europe, the last thing we should do is cut defense spending,” Pence said.

Pence is openly considering campaigning for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024, and his comments Wednesday morning — delivered from the key primary state of New Hampshire, where he was due to appear at several events this week — gave further clues to his plans.

“I am confident that we will announce our intentions before the end of June,” Pence said of his potential presidential announcement. “Part of the reason I came here to New Hampshire is because in New Hampshire you get a little bit more attention when you talk about important things.”

Trump is currently the clear poll favorite in the Republican primary field, even when you include figures like Pence and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is expected to seek a competitive presidential nomination in the coming weeks.

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Pence reiterated his view that there will be “better choices” than Trump for the 2024 presidency, before raising a number of his policy disagreements with the lead candidate.

“The [former] President and I differ on American leadership in the world. I think we need to get involved and support the Ukrainian military and repel the Russian invasion. “I think that’s in our interest and in the interest of the free world,” Pence said.

Trump has called for an immediate end to the conflict in Ukraine, which began when Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an invasion of the neighboring country. Trump, who has praised Putin in the past, has offered few details about how that peace might be achieved. In a recent CNN town hall, Trump didn’t say which nation he thought should win the war and refused to say whether he believed Putin was a war criminal.

Pence said supporting Ukraine “also sends a crucial message to China with its military provocations.”

On foreign and domestic issues, the US must demand “a leadership that stands firm and gets those things done,” Pence said, before pointing to his long track record in politics. “I know what can be done.”

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