Ex-vice president Mike Pence, enemy of LGBTQ+ rights, joins White House race

Mike Pence

Former vice president Mike Pence has joined the 2024 presidential race, setting up for a potential battle between himself and former boss Donald Trump. 

US reports claim Pence – who served as vice president under Trump from 2016 to 2020 – filed paperwork on Monday (6 June) to join the race and will officially announce his candidacy on Wednesday (7 June). 

Vying for the Republican ticket are Trump, Florida governor Ron DeSantis, former South Carolina govenor Nikki Haley and Pence, as well as other declared candidates who are not expected to garner much support, such as biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy. 

It is expected Pence will take part in a CNN town hall on Wednesday evening. CNN also reported his intention to run for the 2024 presidency.

Over the years, Pence has been outspoken in his opposition to LGBTQ+ rights and freedoms.

The evangelical Christian believes marriage is between “one man and one woman. In 2015, when the Supreme Court ruled state bans against same-sex marriage were unconstitutional he said he was “disappointed”.

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The former vice president has also been known to support so-called conversion therapy, with his archived campaign website from the year 2000 calling for funding for HIV services to be diverted to “provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behaviour”.

In terms of trans rights, in February Pence said schools and colleges were teaching students “radical gender ideology” which is “teaching children to hate their own bodies, and furthering the notion that it’s possible to transition from one gender to another”.

Civil rights groups have already warned of an untick in hate crimes during the 2024 presidential campaign.

Donald Trump and Mike Pence campaigning together in 2016 (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Pence’s decision to join the race sets the stage for a clash between himself and former president, Donald Trump. The two Republicans have criticised each other in the years since their second term election loss and the 6 January insurrection. 

Trump chose Pence as his running mate for the 2016 election when he was governor of Indiana, a move which is believed to have been undertaken to reassure GOP voters put off by the controversial business mogul.

Behind the scenes, rumours swirled of tensions between the traditionalist Pence and Trump, but in public Pence was a steadfast supporter of his president. 

When the pair lost to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in 2020 a rift between the two reached a fever pitch, as Trump upped the ante in his claim that the election was “stolen”.  

Pence rebuked Trump’s calls to have him refuse to certify electoral college results, as he carried out a ceremonial role on 6 January, with Trump telling him to declare the votes fraudulent and name himself and Pence winners.  

It was widely reported from various sources that Trump called his vice president prior to him going to certify the votes, urging him one last time to refuse to verify them. 

“You can either go down in history as a patriot, or you can go down in history as a p***y,” he is alleged to have told Pence. 

When the mob that stormed the Capitol building broke in they reportedly chanted “hang Mike Pence” and expressed wishes to kill him over his refusal to delay the democratic process. 

During a CNN town hall for his own presidential campaign in May, Trump refused to apologise to Pence and claimed he “did something wrong” by not refusing the votes.