Former Vice President Mike Pence, while speaking at a GOP dinner in New Hampshire, called the January 6 storming of the Capitol a “dark day in the history” of the country, adding that he may never see “eye to eye” with Donald Trump on the violent insurrection.
That rare disagreement with his former boss, whom Pence otherwise repeatedly praised in his speech on Thursday, could be seen as notable. But taken against the backdrop of the extraordinary events that unfolded five months ago—specifically, that pro-Trump rioters had targeted Pence with chants to hang the former vice president—noting a mere failure to agree is dramatically underwhelming. They tried to kill you. Your boss cheered them on.
Pence on Jan. 6: "President Trump and I have spoken many times since we left office. And I don't know if we'll ever see eye to eye on that day. But I will always be proud of what we accomplished…" pic.twitter.com/AibOUha531
— Andrew Solender (@AndrewSolender) June 3, 2021
What’s more, Pence immediately followed the remark with a more forceful reassurance that he would “always be proud” of what he and Trump had accomplished while in office—a line that, unlike his acknowledgment that the two men may never see eye to eye, attracted rowdy applause from the audience.
But of course, Pence, who is all but certain to launch a 2024 presidential bid, knows that the purpose of speaking in the early voting state is to perform something of a tricky balancing act. Ultimately, praising the man that incited the very “dark day” he supposedly condemns appears to be a means for survival in the Republican Party. That’s probably a small concession for Pence, a hardline conservative, who otherwise used his appearance on Thursday to accuse Democrats of using the insurrection as a means to distract from President Biden’s agenda. Pence also called systemic racism a “left-wing myth,” insisting that the US was not a racist country.