AUSTIN, Texas — We are approaching two years since the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Now, former Vice President Mike Pence is breaking his silence about his time in the building as extremists and white supremacists tried to hunt him down.
Former VP Pence talks about that day in his new memoir, "So Help Me God," out Tuesday. The former vice president joined KVUE Midday to discuss the book, his relationship with former President Donald Trump and his political future.
Jenni Lee: "Your book releases the same day former President Donald Trump is expected to make a big announcement. If he announces a run for the 2024 presidency, how do you plan to support your former boss?"
Former VP Mike Pence: "Well, I know the president will make his announcement tonight – I don't think he's announcing my book, Jenni.
"But look, it's a free country. The president's welcome to announce his intentions. But, for me, today is a special day. We have an opportunity to tell the story of our family, the story of my Irish immigrant grandfather, my combat veteran dad, my first-generation Irish-American mother, who's 90 years young. And then the story of my wife, Karen, and I and our children, as we had the great privilege of serving in the Congress with so many great people from Texas, serving as governor of Indiana, then for consequential years as vice president of the United States. And I'm grateful to have the opportunity to tell that story. I'm proud of the record of the Trump-Pence administration.
"Obviously, it didn't end well. We're candid about that in 'So Help Me God.' But it's my heart's desire that this book be a great source of encouragement to people, particularly conservatives around Texas and around the country, to be reminded of all that we accomplished and all that we can do again."
Lee: "Mr. Vice President, it doesn't sound like you're done with the public service. So, are you running for 2024?"
Pence: "Well, Jenni, I will tell you, with two kids in the active-duty military, our family's literally not been together for three years with deployments. And this coming Christmas, we're going to have all of our kids back home in Indiana. We're going to spend some time to reflect and to pray about where we might next serve. And I promise to keep you posted, but we'll go wherever we're called. And we love this country, and if we have a contribution to make, we won't hesitate to step forward to make it."
Lee: "I'm going to hold you to that promise, Mr. Vice President. So part of your consideration for running in 2024, why do you think you would make a better president than, say, former President Trump?"
Pence: "Well, if that were to come to pass, that would be for others to say. But I do hope in the pages of 'So Help Me God,' people get a better sense of who we are. You know, when you're vice president, it's your job to stand in the background, it's your job to support the president. I was always loyal to President Donald Trump. My only higher loyalty was to God and to the Constitution. And my hope in reading these pages, they might have a better sense of who we are. This small-town guy from Indiana that had so many great and extraordinary opportunities to serve the people of this country, and I hope people find a little bit more of me and my family on those pages.
"And if that day ever comes that we're ever standing on another stage, they'll know the Pences even better if they read 'So Help Me God."
Lee: "Mr. Vice President, a new poll commissioned by the Republican Party of Texas shows that if the 2024 primary were held today, now, Texas Republicans would favor Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis over former President Donald Trump, 43 to 32%. You receive 5% support in that poll. Thirteen percent of people surveyed said they were undecided. How would you turn your number around?"
Pence: "Well, Jenni, it feels like you're getting ahead of things a little bit, right? We'll worry about that if the time comes. But, you know, I, look, I, the American people love competition and I've been around politics long enough to know that, you know, when the time comes that people start to think about the future of our party and the future of our country, there'll be lots of good debates to be had.
"But as I've traveled across America over the last two years, Jenni, I'm more convinced than ever that the people in this country want to get back policies of the Trump-Pence administration that made us strong and prosperous. But I also think they want to see leadership that can unite our country around timeless American ideals and show the kind of respect and civility that Americans show to one another every day."
Lee: "There you go. We're moving on from this now, Mr. Vice President. On Jan. 6, former President Trump tweeted that you did not have the courage to do what you should have done. You said his words were reckless and that they angered you. That same day, he also made remarks that endangered your life and your family's life and everyone inside the Capitol building. Last night, you said the former president didn't apologize. Why didn't you ask for one?"
Pence: "Well, when the president and I gathered five days after Jan. 6 – at his request – I sensed a great deal of remorse on his part. As I said last night to David Muir, when he asked if he had apologized, I said, not in so many words, but I sensed his deep regret about what had happened. His regret that all of it had occurred. And, frankly, it laid a foundation for us to be able to part amicably when we left the White House.
"But, in the months that followed, when the president returned to the rhetoric that he used before Jan. 6, attacking me and others who stood for the Constitution, I decided that we should just go our separate ways. But I do believe, in that time – as you'll read in 'So Help Me God' – I think the president felt great remorse in the aftermath of that tragic day, as well he should, and I acknowledge that."
Lee: "You parted ways. Does that mean you don't have a relationship with the former president?"
Pence: "I really haven't spoken to the president since the middle part of last year. But, look, I'll always be proud of the record of the Trump-Pence administration. I'll always be grateful that he chose me to be as vice president. It was the greatest honor of my life."
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