Mike Pence met with applause on Monday night in Iowa City, when he answered a question at an event held by a conservative youth group about why he didn’t do what Donald Trump wanted and help overturn the 2020 election.
“James Madison,” Pence said, citing the fourth president, the founder widely considered the father of the US constitution.
On 6 January, the then vice-president did not do what a conservative lawyer, John Eastman, now notoriously recommended, and use his role presiding over the certification of electoral college results to upend key states and keep Trump in the White House.
Eastman has complained that Pence has been given too much credit for his behaviour on a day when he and his family were hustled to safety while the mob that attacked the Capitol hunted him, some chanting that he should be hanged.
Eastman told the Guardian he was the victim of a “false narrative put out there to make it look as though Pence had been asked to do something egregiously unconstitutional, so he was made to look like a white knight coming in to stop this authoritarian Trump”.
Others, including Bob Woodward and Robert Costa of the Washington Post, have reported that Pence took Eastman and Trump seriously and had to be convinced he could not do as they wished.
Pence has struggled to reconcile the events of 6 January with the need to both appease Trump and advance his own political ambition.
In Iowa, Pence said: “I understand the disappointment in the election. You might remember I was on the ballot. But you’ve got to be willing to do your duty. And the time may come that some of you are in that position, or one like it. And I just have a feeling based on the shining faces I’m seeing around here you’re going to be men and women who do your duty in that time as well.”
Why was Pence in Iowa, talking about shining faces?
Iowa will hold the first contest of the 2024 Republican presidential primary.
Here’s some very fine further reading, from Ed Pilkington of this parrish: