Former Vice President Mike Pence could not have ushered himself off the 2024 presidential stage much quicker than he did on Friday.
Sure, he’ll remain in the race. He’s actually third in the RealClearPolitics aggregate of GOP primary polls — although well behind second-place Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and well, well behind first place, his former boss. He’ll plod along through the early debates and may continue to draw high-ish single-digit numbers in the polls.
However, I think we’ll look back in 12 months and agree that his candidacy effectively died with four words uttered on an Iowa stage on Friday: “That’s not my concern.”
The reason Pence and others were on stage was because of the first official presidential forum of the primary season. This wasn’t a debate between the candidates, but individual one-on-one interviews with arguably the most famous (and hardest-working) technically unemployed conservative pundit there is, Tucker Carlson.
Those even remotely familiar with Carlson know that he’s skeptical of unquestioned NATO support of Ukraine in its war against Russia. If you’re a fan of his show, you’ll also know that he’s spoken out frequently about the moral decay of America, particularly as it pertains to crime and the left’s increasing tolerance of it.
During one particularly contentious moment in the back-and-forth between Carlson and Pence (of which there were a few) both of these issues converged for Carlson, who noted that seemingly endless aid — both in the form of money and in the form of military equipment, which (as you doubtlessly know) also costs money, and quite a bit of it — is being extended to Ukraine by the United States.
Carlson accused Pence of “being distressed the Ukrainians don’t have enough American tanks [when] every city in the United States has become much worse over the past three years.”
“Yeah,” Pence assented.
“All around, there’s not one city that’s gotten better in the past three years,” Carlson continued, to applause. “Drive around, there’s not one city that’s gotten better in the United States, and it’s visible.
Did Mike Pence hurt his campaign with his comments?
Yes: 100% (20 Votes)
No: 0% (0 Votes)
“Our economy has degraded, the suicide rate has jumped, public filth and disorder and crime have exponentially increased — and yet your concern is that the Ukrainians, a country most people can’t find on a map, who’ve received tens of billions of U.S. tax dollars, don’t have enough tanks.”
Carlson then said it was “a fair question to ask, like, where’s the concern for the United States in that?”
As the crowd was applauding Carlson for the question, Pence decided to deliver the four words which might be the epitaph on his campaign: “That’s not my concern.”
Tucker Carlson just brutalized Mike Pence for prioritizing Ukraine despite a litany of social ills afflicting America:
Tucker: “Where’s the concern for the United States?”
Pence: “That’s not my concern. Tucker I’ve heard this routine from you before. That’s not my concern.” pic.twitter.com/1t3docDEsd
— Charlie Kirk (@charliekirk11) July 14, 2023
“Tucker, I’ve heard that routine from you before,” he continued. “That’s not my concern.”
Now, to be fair, roughly two hours after Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk tweeted this clip from the forum — hosted by TheBlaze and The FAMiLY Leader, an Iowa-based conservative Christian organization — Pence tweeted this “is what we used to call FAKE NEWS” and posted a longer clip with more context.
It wasn’t exactly exculpatory:
— Mike Pence (@Mike_Pence) July 14, 2023
“I’m running for president of the United States because I think this country is in a lot of trouble,” he said. “I think that Joe Biden has weakened America at home and abroad. And, as president of the United States, we’re going to restore law and order in our cities, we’re going to secure our border, we’re going to get this economy moving again and we’re going to make sure we have men and women on our courts — at every level — that will stand for the right to life and defend all the God-given liberties enshrined in our Constitution.
“Anybody who says we can’t be the leader of the free world and solve our problems at home has a pretty small view of the greatest nation on Earth,” he added. “We can do both.”
For those who wish to watch Pence’s full appearance at the forum for further context, here you go:
As for the extended version of the answer, this is wonderful campaign rhetoric from the former vice president — and absolutely divorced from reality.
The greatest nation on Earth, immensely great though it may be, has racked up over $30 trillion in debt, which means there isn’t endless money to effectuate an endless number of solutions to what is essentially an endless list of problems.
It also comes after four words that, interpreted at their best, imply that Pence is ignorant of the fact that being president always requires tradeoffs, particularly after Joe Biden is done trashing the country and its balance sheet like a rock star in a hotel room — and endless munitions and money for an endless war in Ukraine is going to sound less and less desirable to more and more Americans when whoever is the next president has to sacrifice one of their agenda items to keep plugging holes in the dam holding Russian aggression at bay.
Ukraine-skeptical conservatives, however, weren’t going to afford Pence the benefit of the doubt over those four words.
We all heard it. You don’t get to take it back
That’s why your staffers are PANICKING
Drop out https://t.co/77CFrRPnI8
— Jack Poso 🇺🇸 (@JackPosobiec) July 14, 2023
“We all heard it. You don’t get to take it back. That’s why your staffers are PANICKING,” tweeted Human Events senior editor and conservative activist Jack Posobiec, before offering two simple words of advice: “Drop out.”
Former Arizona GOP gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake, meanwhile, wondered this about Pence’s remark: “Did he just say the quiet part out loud?”
Did he just say the quiet part out loud? https://t.co/lsr2vJl4Mc
— Kari Lake (@KariLake) July 14, 2023
The scarier notion, I’d argue, is that this isn’t the “quiet part” for Pence. He either lives in a pretend reality where our resources are infinite and our problems merely finite, or he wishes to court voters unserious and gullible enough to live there.
The problem for Pence is that living residents of this parallel reality tend to be Democrats. While there is a utopia in which this worldview works, it’s worth noting, it’s called Heaven — but residents of that happy realm are definitionally not on Earth, alas, and if they’re still on American voting rolls by dint of error, they also tend to overwhelmingly vote Democratic down here too, Republican though they may have been in life.
Author: C. Douglas Golden