“Traitor” was not the word that Mike Pence wanted to hear as he addressed the crowd at the Faith & Freedom Coalition conference, a convention of evangelicals and conservative activists currently taking place in Kissimmee, Florida.
Neither were the resounding boos something that the former vice president, a man with possible presidential ambitions of his own, likely wanted to confront.
As the final speaker in a morning lineup of right-wing GOP luminaries that included both of Florida’s homegrown Senators — Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Rick Scott (R-FL) — as well as Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Linsey Graham (R-SC), Pence alone faced antagonism from the assembled members of the religious right.
Pence alone suffered the ignominy of multiple walkouts during his speech.
It was a humiliating moment for someone who was presumably brought on as Donald Trump’s vice-presidential pick because of his close ties to and unassailable influence over the evangelicals who make up a large proportion of the Republican Party.
As a born-again Christian who has zealously fought for conservative legislative priorities in the areas of abortion restriction and limiting LBGTQ rights, Pence was once the standard-bearer for the crowd he was facing today.
Unfortunately for the Indiana politician, the only thing that many in that crowd cared about today was not his legacy of right-wing activism, but his decision not to violate the law and the Constitution by failing to confirm the electoral vote count that showed that Donald Trump was the biggest loser in his contest against Joe Biden for the presidency.
With 65% of Republicans still refusing to accept the legitimate reality of Trump’s loss — and many of those people placing the blame on the subsequent transition to the Biden administration squarely on Mike Pence’s shoulders — the former vice president’s ambitions to clench the 2024 GOP nomination for president may seem even further from his grasp than before Trump’s insurrection attempts and subsequent propaganda war that continues to promote his “big lie” of a stolen election.
What Pence actually said during his speech was nothing that the attendees at the conference would object to, as the former VP touted the Trump administration’s accomplishments in COVID vaccine development and restoring religious freedom (as Pence refers to policies that would allow previously prohibited discrimination against minorities on the basis of religious belief.)
Pence also courted the crowd’s approval by slamming the Biden administration for its immigration policies (apparently these so-called Christians have forgotten the parable of the Good Samaritan) and for failing to support Israel (and usher in the end times) sufficiently enough for their liking.
With his perceived betrayal of Donald Trump, however, Pence’s political standing has taken a hit in right-wing political circles that should rightfully be assigned to the man who actually betrayed his most loyal and submissive vice president by sending a mob of rabid hooligans to the Capitol to potentially execute him on the gallows that they erected for that very purpose, i.e., Donald Trump.
It remains to be seen what will happen to Mike Pence’s standing among the conservative right-wing of the Republican Party if (and hopefully when) Trump is finally indicted for his crimes while in office or even his financial crimes from his previous life as a real estate developer willing to play fast and loose with the law.
In the current state of GOP electoral politics, however, it seems that for all his loyalty to Donald Trump, Pence is being left as the odd man out in the game of musical chairs to determine the next Republican presidential candidate.
You can watch a video of Mike Pence’s appearance at the Faith & Freedom Coalition conference in the excerpt below.
Original reporting by Steve Contorno at The Tampa Bay Times.
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Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.