Pence steps up midterm stumping by touting abortion stance, with eye toward 2024

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FLORENCE, SC – After years of serving as a low-key sidekick to Donald Trump, the former Vice President Mike Pence They now appear everywhere – or at least on friendly forums.

On Wednesday morning, Pence traveled to the US Capitol to meet with House governors, some of whom urged him to do so. Run for president in 2024. In the evening, speak at church mass in Florence, South Carolina. He gave a standing ovation after a speech praising the end of abortion rights and discussing what comes next.

“The tide has turned in this nation,” Pence said, speaking to about 1,500 worshipers at the Florence Baptist Temple. “There is much more to us than there is to them. Never doubt it. Life triumphs in America.”

Come Friday, he and Trump will hold fencing rallies in Arizona for the candidates competing in the Republican primary. And next week, they will each give a speech in the capital, a day away.

Wherever he goes, Pence urges support for conservative candidates in the midterm elections, often by highlighting their anti-abortion credentials. But he’s also contemplating a presidential election of his own, and his shadow campaign is in full swing, fueled by a long conservative record that often differs from Trump’s.

Pence made only reference to Trump in his church appearance here: a passing reference to the Trump-Pence administration’s anti-abortion policies.

Now that Roe v. Wade has turned upside down, he said states have a great deal of influence over whether abortion is legal. He urged a nationwide ban on the practice – something that would require “a movement in every state in the country”.

“It is the duty of all of us to ensure that we have leadership in our country that reflects a commitment to life,” he said. “It is time to end this injustice in every state in America.”

At the same time, he advocated making adoption less expensive and a more viable option for families.

Having spent so much time in Trump’s shadow, Pence has been introducing himself to an audience that may not have a sense of the man. He’s been getting more publicity lately thanks to the January 6 House committee, which portrayed him as a hero for refusing Trump’s request not to certify Joe Biden’s victory.

Pence didn’t say anything about January 6 in his speech Wednesday night, nor did he respond to an NBC News reporter’s question afterwards while shaking hands with the audience on his way out.

But he made an impression on the crowd, detailing how his life has changed since he gave up the perks that come with a vice president in order to have more walkers in his Indiana hometown. In a quick criticism of the high fuel prices Biden has experienced, he said, “The good part about not being a vice president is that I drive myself. The bad part is that I have to pay for my own gas.”

Although he served as vice president and governor of Indiana, he said he still had to wait about half an hour for a table at Olive Garden on Saturday night. “This is America, Dad,” his daughter Charlotte texted him when he told her.

If Pence has any chance of defeating Trump, he must control evangelical voters who are still grateful to the former president for appointing three Supreme Court justices who all voted to overturn Roe. Some of the devotees interviewed said they would seriously consider Pence.

Carrying a Bible on his way out of church, Franklin Stewart, 80, said he would prefer Pence over Trump if they both run for the Republican nomination in 2024. “Because of Pence’s Christian stance, I now have to go with him,” Stewart said.

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