Former Vice President Mike Pence took the softest swipe at Donald Trump and his 2020 obsession on Tuesday, saying that politics should be about building for the future rather than looking back.
It came at the end of a speech outlining his “freedom agenda” and roadmap for American conservatism.
He celebrated the Supreme Court’s decision to destroy Roe v Wade’s dump on “history’s ash heap.”
“We must not tire until we have restored the sanctity of life at the center of American law in every state in the nation,” he said.
“We save the babies, we save America.”
But the day after one of Pence’s top advisers confirmed he had appeared before a Jan. 6 grand jury, all eyes were on whether the former vice president would refer to his former boss.
Tuesday offers a split screen for Republicans, with Trump returning to Washington DC for the first time since leaving to deliver a speech at the America First Policy Institute later in the day as he continues to fantasize about a 2024 campaign.
First Pence had a chance to outline a framework for his own potential run before being asked by an audience member about divisions with Trump.
Former Vice President Mike Pence went first with a speech in Washington DC urging conservatives to watch the next election — not the last — in a swipe at his former boss. Donald Trump will speak in his first DC speech since leaving office later today
Pence set out his “freedom agenda” as a roadmap for conservatives. He is widely expected to announce a presidential election early in the new year
Pence said he was proud of the achievements of the Trump-Pence administrations, including appointing conservative judges and securing the southern border.
“I don’t know if the president and I disagree on issues,” he said cautiously before an audience during the Young America’s Foundation event.
‘But we can differ in focus.
‘I really believe that elections are about the future. And that it is imperative, at a time when so many Americans are hurting, so many families are struggling, that we don’t give in to the temptation to look back.
“But I think the time has come for us to offer a bold, positive agenda to bring America back.”
By contrast, Trump continues to use his public appearances to downplay his 2020 election defeat and complain that the vote was rigged.
Pence should have appeared at the Heritage Foundation the day before. However, his appearance at the conservative think tank had to be postponed when his plane was unable to land due to bad weather.
His speech had been heralded as an important roadmap for conservatives to connect with voters.
Instead, he kept his comments to a younger audience on Tuesday.
“There is a cure for what ails America. And that is leadership committed to American freedom,” he said.
“More than ever, we must lead America with a freedom agenda focused on the future.”
He linked his policy recommendations to an agenda based on freedom, in which power is given to individuals rather than institutions.
“I know that Congress cannot and should not try to solve every problem our country faces,” he said.
“A careful study of Congress shows that Congress has done two things right in our history: nothing and overreacting.
“And so our freedom agenda is about equipping Americans like you to advocate for freedom, with your neighbors and friends and families and colleagues.”
He was able to frame the nation’s culture wars.
“If we allow the radical left to continue dumping toxic waste into the upper reaches of our culture.
“Politics is becoming more toxic than ever.
“You know the American people are proud of our culture.
“They believe it is worth protecting for future generations. As Americans, we believe in those timeless ideals of life and freedom, and the pursuit of happiness.”
A day earlier, chief Pence aide Marc Short confirmed he had appeared before a Jan. 6 grand jury, but said he couldn’t discuss anything further.
That started with the sanctity of life, he continued.
“Our freedom agenda calls for the promotion of pro-life protection in every state in the union. Each.
“Call for expanding support for women in crisis pregnancies to support the unborn and the newborn with equal American generosity.
“We’re calling for adoption laws to be reformed so that more eternal families can be formed, because you can’t be pro-life if you’re not pro-adoption.
“Finally, we call for an end once and for all to all taxpayers’ funding for abortion and the elimination of Planned Parenthood funding.
A day earlier, Marc Short, who was Pence’s chief of staff when he was vice president, confirmed that he had testified before a federal grand jury investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 violence.
“I received a federal grand jury subpoena and I complied with that subpoena,” Short told CNN. He declined to give details about his testimony.