When directly asked on Sunday whether he considers himself a “MAGA Republican,” former vice president Mike Pence dodged his way out of answering.
Instead, he told NBC’s Chuck Todd, “I’m a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican in that order.”
Pence, who is running for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, has attempted to carefully thread the needle between bashing his former boss—facing attacks from Trump and his surrogates over Pence’s refusal to play along with unconstitutional attempts to overturn the 2020 election—and courting the hardcore pro-Trump base of the Republican Party.
Oftentimes this has resulted in wishy-washiness from the former vice president. For example, during his Meet the Press appearance this weekend, Pence squirmed and smirked his way out of answering whether he considers himself a “MAGA Republican.”
“I’m incredibly proud of what we did in the Trump-Pence administration for four years. You better believe it,” he told moderator Chuck Todd. “In those four years—after eight years of the slowest recovery since the Great Depression, eight years of… Barack Obama-Joe Biden that saw military cuts that hollowed out our military, eight years of liberals on our courts—under the Trump-Pence administration, with the support of MAGA Americans, we literally did make America great again.”
Asked again if he’s a “MAGA Republican or not,” Pence continued to dodge.
“Look, I’m a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican in that order. I’ve always said that. People who know me know those are my values. Those are my ideals. And I really believe that the agenda that I’ve always been about, that I’m looking forward to making are taken to that debate stage, is the agenda that will bring this country all the way back.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Pence was asked about how, according to a recent indictment, Trump allegedly berated him on Jan. 1, 2021 after informing the president he had no constitutional authority as VP to refuse to certify the states’ votes. “You’re too honest,” Trump reportedly told the then-veep, a quote that Pence has embraced in campaign merch.
Of course, Trump has denied ever saying such a thing, posting to Truth Social last week: “I never told a newly emboldened (not based on his 2% poll numbers!) Pence to put me above the Constitution, or that Mike was ‘too honest.’ He’s delusional, and now he wants to show he’s a tough guy.”
Todd asked Pence on Sunday: “Donald Trump had said this week that he never asked you to disregard the Constitution and that he never said that you were too honest. Either of those things true?”
“Well, look, you could check his tweets,” Pence replied. “The president was quite clear and quite public that he thought that I had the authority to either reject or return votes to the state.” Asked whether he stands by the claim that Trump called him “too honest,” the former Indiana governor unequivocally responded: “I do. I mean, it’s part of a part of dialogue that happened between the president and me and that was related, I think, to a bogus a lawsuit that was brought to try and force my hand to have a federal judge say that I had the right to throw out votes.”
He continued: “The American people know the presidency belongs to them alone, and no one person has ever had that authority, or ever should under our system.”