Saturday, August 26, 2023

Mike Pence's Unique Problem



As a candidate for the Republican nomination for President, former Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson appeared Monday on MSNBC’s ":Deadline White House", hosted by Nicolle Wallace. Hutchinson

has repeatedly said he cannot back former President Donald Trump if he is a convicted criminal. Yet, he signed a pledge to get on the RNC debate stage that would require him to back Trump if he is the nominee, even as he still claims he cannot back the former president.

"If you are not the Republican nominee, will you vote for Donald Trump as president?" asked Wallace.

"Well, I don't expect him to be the nominee so—" Hutchinson began.

"He's ahead 30 points in the latest polls," Wallace cut him off. "It's certainly a possibility."

"Well, I understand that and I'm sure that will come up on the debate stage, but of course, if you believe he's not qualified under our Constitution, the 14th Amendment, then he's not going to even be in the picture," said Hutchinson.

"Well, I agree with you but did you sign the pledge as a condition of being in the debate that you'll support the eventual nominee?" said Wallace. "I'm just trying to find the consistency with your stated positions. I admire some of them, but some of them don't add up."

Former Rep. David Jolly (R-FL), another disaffected anti-Trump conservative on the panel, spoke up.

"I support your spirit, but are you going to vote for Donald Trump as the Republican nominee if, indeed, he's on the ballot in Arkansas, where you're registered to vote?" said Jolly.

And I hear you very clearly, exactly what you're asking me, and I just gave you the answer that I am providing in signing that pledge based upon," Hutchinson said. "You don't have to accept it. I just gave you the answer."

"Governor, I think ... [Republicans] refuse to deal with the facts as they really are," said Wallace. "And the facts as they really are — and believe me, from the bottom of my heart, I wish it wasn't the case — but Donald Trump is ahead 30 points over the second-most popular Republican and that isn't you, sir, unfortunately. But I wonder how we are to cover seeming contradictions in views. You make a very strong constitutional argument, not just that he's the wrong president on policy but that it is unconstitutional because of the 14th Amendment, but you won't say here to us, two former Republicans, that you won't vote for him?"

"Well, it's necessary to be on the debate," said Hutchinson. "Obviously Chris Christie and others have signed that pledge."

Christie, in particular, has made it clear that he has no intention of supporting Trump. While it might be required to be on the debate stage, what happens after Trump becomes the nominee can't be controlled by the RNC. A Republican presidential candidate can sign the pledge now and ignore it later without any legal consequence.

Hutchinson claimed the other candidates "have their own rationale for being able to do that. I've said I'm not going to support anybody who is a convicted felon, I'm not going to support somebody who is disqualified from it. So I'm trying to make it clear what my position is. It's not hard to figure it out. If you see a contradiction in there, perhaps that will be clarified in future discussions on the debate or down the road. But I think I've been very clear that I don't believe Donald Trump should be the leader of the party, should be the next President of the United States. That's why I'm running, that's why I'm in debate and I'm making my case very clearly."

Shorter Hutchinson: "I signed the pledge so I'd be admitted to the debate and I will not support Donald Trump if his is convicted of a felony." Without confessing "I lied about endorsing Donald Trump," Hutchinson was as clear as he could be.

Not so Mike Pence. Victor Blackwell, who often demonstrates that "CNN" and "journalism" are not mutually exclusive, begins by showing a clip of the former Vice President Mike Pence stating "I'm running for President in part because I think anyone who puts himself above the Constitution should never be President of the United States."

Blackwell than responds (emphasis his)

Never be President of the United States. However, when you were asked last night if you would vote for former President Trump even if he is convicted, you raised your hand. Rectify those two.

Pence at first replied "Well, look, everyone on that stage signed a pledge to support the Republican nominee and frankly, my hand was raised in that spirit, just in keeping my word."  That would have been a good answer, and almost identical to that of Hutchinson. But Pence couldn't or wouldn't stop there, continuing

But I really do believe more after last night that Donald Trump is not going to be the nominee. I know that many of you in the media think this is already a rematch between Trump and Biden. I don't see that. But I also think last night the American people saw, hopefully, hopefully they got a better sense of me and my role as a leader over the last twenty years.

They already had a good sense of Mike Pence as a leader. You'll recall that    

A former aide to Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told the House January 6 committee that then-President Donald Trump had suggested to Meadows he approved of the “hang Mike Pence” chants from rioters who stormed the US Capitol, two sources familiar with the matter told CNN.

Cassidy Hutchinson, the former aide, also testified that Trump complained about his then-vice president being hustled to safety while Trump supporters breached the Capitol, the sources said.

Fifteen months later, Brett Baier in Milwaukee would ask “You all signed a pledge to support the Republican nominee. If former President Trump is convicted in a court of law, would you still support him as your party's choice? Please raise your hand if you would."  Trump surrogate Vivek Ramaswamy, Nikki Haley, Ron DeSantis, Tim Scott, and Doug Burgum, none of whom the 45th President recommended be lynched, agreed they would. So did Mike Pence. I may be old school, but I'd hold a grudge against someone who thought it would be lovely if I were hanged.

Pence added

But I think they got a better sense of what deep bench the Republican Party has and that we have- we have better choices for 2024 for our Party. So I'm more confident than ever that our Party is going to give us a standard-bearer fitted for the times, someone that's going to lead us to victory in 2024. I'm going to continue to work....

This "deep bench" distinguished itself by overwhelming pledging their fealty to a guy who now faces four indictments, tried to steal an election, encouraged an insurrection against the United States government, and stole top secret documents regarding USA nuclear programs and possible attack against Iran.

It's a stellar bunch. Chris Christie and Asa Hutchinson stood alone in refusing to pledge allegiance to Donald Trump and they have their own flaws, Hutchinson as an ardent force-birther and Christie an obsession with breaking teachers' unions.  With Mike Pence, it's the "kick me" sign he has affixed to his posterior.

 


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