Former Vice President Mike Pence made an effort to differentiate himself from former President Donald J. Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis during a round table with Christian college and university presidents in Iowa. Pence aimed to highlight his commitment to civility politics, in contrast to the brasher approach of his rivals. Upon arrival at the event in Ankeny, Iowa, Pence was praised by Mary Jo Brown, a former teacher at Faith Baptist Bible College and Theological Seminary, who referred to him as “a man of integrity.” Brown expressed her belief that Pence’s faith guided his decision-making on January 6 and stated that she would support him “if he can get through.”
However, according to a recent New York Times/Siena College poll, Pence is currently polling in sixth place in Iowa, significantly behind frontrunners like Trump and DeSantis, who are captivating attention in the state with their more aggressive style of politicking.
In the wake of the latest indictment against Trump, which revealed that Pence had provided prosecutors with contemporaneous notes regarding the former president’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election, Pence has been emphasizing his loyalty to the Constitution and invoking his faith in hopes of winning the support of evangelical voters. Nevertheless, polling data indicates that Pence has the same 3 percent support among white evangelicals in Iowa as he does among the broader Republican caucusgoers.
During the round table, Pence positioned himself as a pivotal figure in the appointment of three conservative justices to the Supreme Court under Trump. He stated that, as vice president, he had interviewed each justice – Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett. Pence assured the Christian education leaders that they could have confidence in a pro-religious majority on the Supreme Court.
Pence also shared an anecdote about being invited by his then-House colleague John Lewis to march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, in 2010 to commemorate Bloody Sunday. Despite their political differences, Pence referred to the late civil rights leader as a “great man” and spoke of their mutual respect for each other as men of faith. This stands in stark contrast to Trump, who downplayed Lewis’s accomplishments after his death, saying, “He didn’t come to my inauguration.”
It remains to be seen whether Pence’s emphasis on civility politics and his appeals to faith will resonate with voters and help boost his standings in the polls. As the primary race progresses, he will need to find a way to differentiate himself from his more attention-grabbing rivals in order to gain traction among potential supporters.