February 27, 2024

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Trump’s former vice president Mike Pence slams apologetic GOP Putin in Ukraine speech

Former Vice President Mike Pence speaks during a parental rights rally on February 15, 2023, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Charlie Neibergal | AP

Former Vice President Mike Pence, a potential 2024 Republican presidential candidate, denounced his party’s “apologies” for Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday while making a blistering call for the United States to increase its support for Ukraine.

Pence, who served in the White House for four years under former President Donald Trump, did not call any of his fellow Republicans by name. But he indicated that his criticism is aimed at the leaders of the Republican Party.

“While some in my party have taken a somewhat different view, let me be clear: There is no room in the GOP leadership for apologizing for Putin,” Pence said. “There can only be room for heroes of freedom.”

Later in the speech, Pence said, “If we succumb to the alarm song of those in this country who argue that America has no interest in the cause of freedom, history teaches us that we may soon be sending ourselves into harm’s way.”

He also took a look at President Joe Biden’s administration for being so reluctant to provide Ukraine with the supplies it needs to keep fighting.

“History teaches us that he who hesitates is lost,” Pence said.

The barbs of the former vice president came in a speech marking the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Europe’s largest and bloodiest military conflict since World War Two.

Pence, speaking at the University of Texas at Austin’s Clements National Security Center, urged the United States and its allies to act “more quickly” to inflict economic pain on Putin and his allies “until he relents” and withdraws from Ukraine.

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He also called on America to “accelerate the pace of military supplies” to Kiev, and to continue to provide ample humanitarian aid to the millions of people caught in the brutal conflict.

The Biden administration took additional steps to shore up Ukraine on Friday, sending another $2 billion in military aid, imposing sanctions on more than 200 additional people and entities, and increasing tariffs on key Russian products.

Pence did not explicitly mention Trump’s name in the speech, except to note that Russia did not attempt any similar international aggression during the Trump-Pence administration. But on the subject of Putin and Ukraine, Pence’s remarks nonetheless provided a stark contrast in tone between him and his former boss.

Trump, when asked in an interview earlier Friday about sending money and weapons to Ukraine, warned that “we’re going to end up in World War III,” and asserted that the conflict “would never have happened” if he were still president. Trump also boasted that he was “tougher on Russia than anyone else” but added, “I still get along with Putin.”

Pence has said publicly that he is considering running for the 2024 Republican presidential election, which could pit him squarely against Trump. Former President Pence lashed out on January 6, 2021, when the then-Vice President refused to participate in a scheme to overturn Trump’s 2020 election loss to Biden. A violent mob of Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol, taking the then vice president and congressional lawmakers into hiding.

Pence said Trump was “mistaken” in thinking he could have reversed the election by rejecting Biden’s primary Electoral College votes. In an interview with CNBC on Wednesday, Pence said he believes there will be “better options” than Trump in 2024.

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But as he contemplates seeking the nomination of a party that still broadly supports Trump, Pence has been quick to tout the achievements of the Trump and Pence administration, and has not explicitly ruled out supporting Trump if he becomes the GOP nominee.