Washington, Jun 8 (IANS): After months of speculation, former US Vice President Mike Pence has finally launched his campaign for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination and said that Donald Trump "should never" be the President again for his actions in the aftermath of the 2020 polls.
At his formal campaign launch on Wednesday in Ankeny, Iowa, the 64-year-old recalled how his former boss, who he served under in the White House from 2017-21, had asked him to block the certification of Joe Biden's 2020 election win as Pence presided over Congress on January 6, 2021 -- the day of the Capitol riot, reports CNN.
"The American people deserve to know, on that day, President Trump also demanded I choose between him and the Constitution. Now voters will be faced with the same choice. I chose the Constitution, and I always will," Pence said to applause from the crowd at Des Moines Area Community College.
"I believe that anyone who puts themselves over the Constitution should never be President of the United States. And anyone who asks someone else to put them over the Constitution should never be President of the United States again," Pence said of Trump who is currently the front-runner for the 2024 Republican nomination.
This was Pence's most forceful repudiation of Trump to date.
"The former President continues to insist that I had the right to overturn the election. President Trump was wrong then, and he is wrong now. I will always believe, by God's grace, I did my duty on that day, I kept my oath, to ensure the peaceful transfer of power under the Constitution and the laws of this country," he said.
The former Indiana Governor also took shots at President Biden, arguing that neither he nor Trump are similar to average Americans who know how to "treat each other with kindness and respect even when we disagree", the BBC reported.
Also hitting out at another Republican 2024 rival, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis for his recent remarks about the war in Ukraine, Pence said: "Donald Trump and others who would seek the presidency would walk away from our traditional role on the world stage."
At a CNN town hall later in the day in Des Moines, Pence repeated his criticism, but on the subject of Trump's alleged mishandling of classified documents, he said it would "be terribly divisive to the country" if the former president were to be indicted by federal investigators over his actions and a possible obstruction of justice.
"This kind of action by the Department of Justice (DOJ) I think would only fuel further division in the country... I hope the DOJ thinks better of it and resolves these issues without an indictment," he added.
Pence joins a growing field of Republican hopefuls, which so far has been dominated by Trump and DeSantis.
On Tuesday, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a onetime Trump ally who helped him prepare for the 2020 presidential debates, announced his candidacy.
The other in the running are former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson and South Carolina Senator Tim Scott.
On Wednesday, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum also announced that he was entering the race.