WASHINGTON (AP) — Former Vice President Mike Pence urged Republicans to maneuver on from the 2020 election and declared that “there isn’t a room on this occasion for apologists for Putin” as he additional cemented his break from former President Donald Trump.

Pence, in a speech Friday night to the occasion’s high donors in New Orleans, took on these in his occasion who’ve did not forcefully condemn Russian President Vladimir Putin for his unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

“The place would Russian tanks be at the moment if NATO had not expanded the borders of freedom? There is no such thing as a room on this occasion for apologists for Putin,” Pence stated, based on excerpts from the speech, which was closed to reporters. “There may be solely room for champions of freedom.”

Pence didn’t instantly reference the previous president. However Trump has repeatedly used language that has been criticized as deferential to Putin, together with calling the Russian chief “good” whereas insisting the assault by no means would have occurred on his watch.

Pence additionally continued to push again on Trump’s lies concerning the 2020 election as he lays the groundwork for a doable 2024 presidential run. Trump, who has been teasing his personal comeback bid that might doubtlessly put the 2 in direct competitors, has continued to falsely insist that Pence had the ability to overturn the 2020 election, which he didn’t.

“Elections are concerning the future,” Pence stated. “My fellow Republicans, we will solely win if we’re united round an optimistic imaginative and prescient for the longer term based mostly on our highest values. We can’t win by preventing yesterday’s battles, or by relitigating the previous.”

Pence has been more and more keen to problem Trump — a dramatic departure from his deferential posture as vp.

Pence has stated the 2 males will seemingly by no means see “eye to eye” on the Capitol riot of Jan. 6, 2021, when Trump supporters stormed the constructing in an effort to cease certification of Joe Biden’s election victory. Final month, he directly rebutted Trump’s false claims that he, as vp, might have overturned the outcomes, telling a gathering of attorneys in Florida that Trump was “improper.”

Nonetheless, he joined the oft-stated view of Trump and others within the Republican Social gathering Friday night in blaming President Joe Biden for Putin’s actions, accusing the present president of getting “squandered the deterrence that our administration put in place to maintain Putin and Russia from even attempting to redraw worldwide boundaries by power.”

“It’s no coincidence that Russia waited till 2022 to invade Ukraine,” Pence stated, based on excerpts. “Weak point arouses evil, and the magnitude of evil sweeping throughout Ukraine speaks volumes about this president.”

Whereas Pence allies consider that he can forge a coalition that brings collectively motion conservatives, white Evangelical Christians and extra establishment-minded Republicans, Trump’s assaults on Pence have made him deeply unpopular with massive swaths of Trump’s loyal base, doubtlessly complicating his bid for the Republican presidential nomination.

Pence on Jan. 6 needed to be whisked to security along with his household as a mob of Trump supporters breached the Capitol constructing, some chanting “Dangle Mike Pence!”


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