Aug 17, 2023 - Politics

Pence defends 2020 election during Indy stop

A man in a blue shirt points at the camera, standing in front of a blue background.

Pence took a break from the campaign trail to address Republican lawmakers in Indy yesterday morning. Photo: Cheryl Senter for the Washington Post via Getty Images

Former Vice President Mike Pence received a warm welcome while back home again in Indiana for a brief stop Wednesday.

Driving the news: While speaking at the National Conference of State Legislatures summit at the Indiana Convention Center, the 2024 presidential hopeful somberly mentioned the latest indictment of former President Trump, but otherwise was upbeat with the friendly crowd of party insiders.

What happened: Pence joked about the infamous fly from his last televised debate and, at the behest of Indiana House Speaker Todd Huston, pulled out a decent George W. Bush impression.

Details: Pence played to the audience of state lawmakers by promising greater flexibility for states and a smaller federal government if he's elected president.

  • He pledged to eliminate the federal Department of Education.
  • He'd send federal housing, highway and welfare responsibilities to states as block grants.
  • He said he'd "repeal all Obamacare mandates."

Of note: He held up Indiana's school choice policies, some of the most robust in the nation, as a national model.

Meanwhile, Pence reiterated that the 2020 Georgia election was not stolen, "despite what the former president and his allies have said."

Catch up fast: An Atlanta grand jury unveiled sweeping charges Monday against Trump and 18 allies over alleged efforts to overturn Georgia's 2020 election results — a case that many close to Trump have feared most imperils him.

What Pence said: Trump and his allies "are entitled to the same presumption of innocence that every American enjoys" in the wake of the new charges.

Zoom out: Trump's Republican rivals in the 2024 presidential primaries offered mixed reactions to his fourth indictment this week, with a handful criticizing the GOP frontrunner.

The big picture: Pence is considered a key witness on allegations that Trump tried to overturn the 2020 presidential election results and pressured Pence not to carry out his congressional role of certifying President Biden's win.

  • Pence told CBS News earlier this month that he has "no plans to testify" in the case, but he will "obey the law" and "respond to the call of the law, if it comes."

The intrigue: Pence could be on stage with Trump next week at the first Republican debate.

  • Trump and Pence are among the eight candidates who've qualified for the debate, though the former president is not expected to attend.
  • "I hope he comes," Pence said. "I really do. I say I've debated Donald Trump 1,000 times, just not with the cameras on."
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