Mike Pence late Thursday rejected former President Donald Trump’s claim that his vice president had the power to overturn the 2020 election results when he presided at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
The former vice president’s remarks at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, were the closest he’s come to rebuking his former boss as seeks to praise the “MAGA” agenda while defending himself from Trump acolytes who think the official results were bogus.
“There are those in our party who believe that in my position as presiding officer over the joint session that I possess the authority to reject or return electoral votes certified by the states, but the Constitution provides the vice president with no such authority,” Mr. Pence said. “Truth is, there is almost no idea more un-American than the notion that any one person could choose the American president.”
Mr. Pence did not mention Mr. Trump by name during his remarks on the Jan. 6 session, which ended in chaos as Trump supporters stormed the Capitol and injured police.
The former vice president tried to relate to those who are still sore over Mr. Trump’s loss to President Biden.
“I understand the disappointment many feel about the last election,” he said. “I can relate. I was on the ballot. But you know, there’s more at stake than our party and our political fortunes in this moment. If we lose faith in the Constitution, we won’t just lose elections — we’ll lose our country.”
Mr. Trump continues to claim the election was fraudulent. He is cheering a patchwork of audits in key states and staying in the limelight ahead of the midterms and a possible 2024 bid — a position that puts Mr. Pence in an awkward position as he plots his political future.
Mr. Pence praised Mr. Trump for the agenda they pushed, side by side, for four years.
“He challenged the establishment. He invigorated our movement, and he set a bold new course for America in the 21st century. And now, as then, there is no going back,” he told the audience in California.
And he slammed Mr. Biden for his immigration and spending proposals while criticizing “cancel culture,” talk of defunding the police and fears that critical race theory will be part of the school curriculum.
“Our party must ensure that critical race theory is expelled from our schools, our military and our public institutions,” Mr. Pence said.