Former Vice President Mike Pence abruptly ended his bid for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination on Saturday, withdrawing from the race he was never able to gain traction in against the domineering presence of Donald Trump.
Speaking at a Republican Jewish Coalition gathering in Las Vegas, Pence announced he was suspending his campaign, effective immediately. “After much prayer and deliberation, I have decided to suspend my campaign for president,” Pence told the surprised audience.
Pence’s withdrawal comes after he struggled extensively to raise money and achieve relevance in a field crowded with GOP hopefuls but completely overshadowed by Trump. While Pence served loyally as Trump’s vice president for four years, he drew the former president’s ire for refusing to overturn the results of the 2020 election, as Trump pressured him to do.
Pence had staked his long-shot bid on support from social conservatives and hoped for a breakthrough in the Iowa caucuses. But Trump’s stranglehold on the party made it impossible for Pence to gain traction. His polling numbers were dismal and funds were running low.
By suspending his campaign now, Pence avoids the embarrassment of failing to qualify for the next Republican debate on November 8. But it also clears the field for the dominant Trump, who continues to lead in all early polls and faces a fractured opposition.
Pence declined to endorse any of his former primary rivals in his remarks on Saturday. But he continued to warn Republicans against the populist and isolationist appeals he said Trump represents. “Give our country a Republican standard-bearer that will appeal to the better angels of our nature,” Pence implored.
The exit of the former vice president from the race underlines the control Trump retains over the GOP. Despite being engulfed in legal investigations and indictments, the former president has prevented any Republican challenger from emerging as a real threat. Pence is the highest profile candidate to bow out so far.