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Pence, a 2024 candidate with firm conservative bonafides who is hovering around third place in GOP polls at 6.5%, told radio host Hugh Hewitt on Wednesday that people ask him “all the time” how he envisions debating Trump.
“I tell them I’ve debated Donald Trump a thousand times, just never with the cameras on,” Pence said.
“I know how to have a good policy debate with the president,” Pence added later. “And I’d look forward to it, and I sure do hope he comes to every single one of those debates.”
2024 GOP presidential candidate Mike Pence, when asked how he would debate Donald Trump:
“We had a close working relationship for four years … I know how to have a good policy debate with the president.” pic.twitter.com/4GBAqnU1Bs
— The Recount (@therecount) July 5, 2023
The first GOP debate for the 2024 cycle is planned for late August in Milwaukee with Fox News as the host.
Trump, known for his combative style and penchant for using mocking nicknames for rivals, has indicated that he may skip the primary debates altogether, citing his strong poll numbers — he leads the Republican field with a polling average of a little over 50% support, ahead of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is in second place with about 23% support — and gripes with “hostile” networks.
Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, another Republican candidate for president, recently predicted Trump will “show up at the debates because his ego won’t permit him not to.”
Pence said he intends to appear at the first debate, declaring that he would not “pass up on the opportunity to talk to the American people about our vision, our experience, our love for this country, for anything.”
Touting his “close working relationship” with Trump over four years in the White House, Pence stressed he is “proud” of the “Trump-Pence administration” record. Still, he noted that “didn’t mean the president and I always agreed,” as January 6 and the Capitol riot in particular remain a point of contention.
Pence said he will be supporting the eventual GOP nominee — quipping, “especially if it’s me” — and predicted that Republicans will have a strong showing across the board in 2024.
“We’re going to win the White House, we’re going to win the Senate, and we’re going to have a wider majority in the House of Representatives, state houses around the country, and we’re going to bring America back,” he said.