Poor Mike Pence. It seems that he and Mother hatched a nifty idea for a campaign ad; however, it has only fueled new sentiment that he is stuck on empty.
In an attempt to be the average Joe, Pence stops to fill up his tank in a campaign and he can't even do that right. Pence sticks the nozzle in an already opened gas cap. I guess you can tell when you've passed Mike and Mother on the highway since they leave the proverbial popcorn trail of petroleum as gas sloshes out of their tank. Pence does not select a grade of fuel and never presses the nozzle. Because he didn't make a selection, the pump beeps continually through the ad while Pence gushes about gas prices.
The ad looks like it's homemade, something that a candidate on a shoestring budget would make. Come to think of it, that sounds like Pence. At every turn on his campaign, Pence is literally and metaphorically out of gas.
And this week, at the Iowa State Fair, a must-stop for all those campaigning for president, The Daily Beastreported that while walking around the fairgrounds, Pence was repeatedly heckled. One woman apparently screamed “Pence is a traitor” and “far from a Christian.” That one had to sting.
All the heckling is most likely due to Pence recently going out of his way to criticize his former boss, Donald Trump. Pence is telling anyone who will listen that he did the right thing. Also, he clearly likes the word “crackpot,” which is how he describes Trump’s unindicted co-conspirators.
Preacher Pence is thumping not the Bible but the Constitution, on this go-around for office. He is repeating over and over that he was following the Constitution instead of following Trump. And it's hitting a brick wall. The fact that it was news this morning that Pence qualified for the first Republican primary debate tells you all you need to know about his lonesome campaign.
When Pence spoke in Iowa this month, he was booed. And the media has been reporting furiously about Pence’s lack of crowds at his events, and the lukewarm receptions he is receiving in half-filled conference rooms, as opposed to drawing large auditoriums. Presumably, that’s why Pence has been standing in front of cameras talking, since there are more reporters than there are supporters.
He failed to do Trump’s dirty work by not giving in to the demand that he not accept the results of the Electoral College vote when presiding over Congress late into the next morning after the January 6 attack on the Capitol. When he announced he wouldn’t do it, he was vilified by Trump and in turn the MAGA crowds, who built a noose and wanted to hang him. He had to be whisked out of the Capitol in fear for his life, threatenedby the very people who elected him as vice president.
Then Pence wrote a book that took Trump to task for his behavior on January 6, and when the backlash was fierce from the MAGA crowd, Pence willy-nillied somewhat around all of Trump’s troubles as he began his campaign for the Republican nomination for president.
By being noncommittal, he was trying to ingratiate himself with the MAGA folks. What made him think they would have a change of heart after his first two strikes, disobeying Trump and then writing about it?
Now comes strike three in the form of Jack Smith’s indictment of Trump for his “unconstitutional behavior” — to quote Pence, who is quoted or mentioned nearly 100 times in the indictment against Trump. Clearly, Pence’s performance testifying in front of the grand jury was a major exercise in truth-telling.
Pence, whose aides have repeatedly talked about his penchant for taking copious extemporaneous notes, seems to have bounteous scribblings about his conversations with Trump. Pence was a verifiable blabbermouth in the indictment. Trump said at one point, “You’re too honest.” This comment cuts two ways. Clearly, Trump is comparing his dishonesty with Pence’s honesty, thereby implicating Trump as deceitful. Pence considers this a badge of honor, whereas Trump and MAGA consider it an act of disobedience.
Pence’s role in Trump’s indictment seems profound. That means there’s no hope of him ever attracting the MAGA votes again, so with that demographic entirely lost, Pence is now trying to appeal to baseline conservatives — who are few and far between — and moderates, who know that Pence is anything but moderate.
The old school conservatives have long memories, and they feel that Pence was perhaps Trump’s top enabler. Like Nancy Reagan looked adoringly at her Ronnie, Pence fawned indulgently at his Donnie. It was gag worthy to see him trip all over himself to appease Trump while Trump looked on smugly. There’s no way that “sane” Republicans are going to support Pence, even as he feigns courage coming after Trump.
Moderates and independents will not suddenly look at Pence as courageous and simultaneously forget his extreme views on social issues, and even if they did, this would only apply in the general election, meaning Pence would have to win the nomination with MAGA and old-school Republican support. That sounds about as “crackpot” as Sidney Powell.
All this means that Pence polling at 1 percent in the race for the nomination seems about right. And if Pence thinks his poll numbers are going to go up at some point, that is extremely laughable considering what is ahead for him.
First, Pence will have to be on the debate stage with Trump. How awkward will that be? Not for Trump, who will continue to look at Pence smugly, but for Pence, who must stand up there with the guy he threw under the bus. The judge in the arraignment hearing said that Trump, in a nutshell, can’t indulge himself with the witnesses and juries at his trial.
Trump will find a way to humiliate Pence at the debate without ever mentioning the indictment. You can call somebody a “weasel,” a “turncoat,” and “sanctimonious” (it now applies, in Trump’s eyes to Pence as well as Ron DeSantis), without ever mentioning January 6, the trial, the indictment, or anything constructive. Trump is the master at childish, nonsensical put-downs.
Finally, somebody somewhere has got to allow cameras in the courtroom for Trump’s January 6 hearing. I would pay top dollar to see Mike Pence testify while Donald Trump looks on — nastily, as he might say — from the defense table. I’m sure Pence will petition the court to allow another chair in the witness box so Mother can sit with him and settle his nerves.
What does Pence think he achieves by staying in the race? Who does he think will support him? There is no one left in the Republican Party or among independents who think Pence has a shot at being president.
My suggestion to Pence is to drop out of the race and move to New Jersey. It's the only state left that doesn't let people pump their own gas, which should make life for him and Mother so much easier.
John Casey is senior editor of The Advocate.
Views expressed in The Advocate’s opinion articles are those of the writers and do not necessarily represent the views of The Advocate or our parent company, equalpride.