Pence’s pass comes as he steps up criticism of his former boss on other topics. And it suggests that Trump’s main competitors in the 2024 GOP presidential primary will try to avoid his growing legal troubles.
But Pence stood by the harshest criticism of Trump’s actions on January 6, 2021, which he delivered at the recent Gridiron dinner in Washingtonin which he said history would hold the former president “accountable” for the riot.
Trump denounced the claim at a campaign event in Iowa earlier this week and sought to pin the blame for Jan. 6 on Pence. But Pence parried Thursday in New Hampshire.
“I know our former president said I had the right to void the election, but Donald Trump is wrong,” Pence said. “I had no right to cancel the election. The presidency belongs to the American people, and to the American people alone.
He also continued to fend off another potential rival, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, for calling Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a “territorial dispute” – although he didn’t use his name.
“Let me be very clear: the Russian invasion is not a territorial dispute. It was an unprovoked act of aggression against a sovereign nation. And that must be met with American strength,” Pence said. But, he added to applause, “we shouldn’t send soldiers in danger to Ukraine.”
Pence’s appearance at the Cheshire County Republican Dinner marked his first trip this year to the nation’s first GOP primary state.