By Tim Reid
(Reuters) – Former U.S. Vice President Mike Pence formally announced his candidacy for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination on Wednesday, setting him up for a battle with the man he once loyally stood by – former President Donald Trump.
Here are some facts about Pence’s life and career:
A SOCIAL CONSERVATIVE AND FORMER RADIO HOST
Pence, who turns 64 on Wednesday, was a Democrat in his youth. He became disillusioned with the party while in college and inspired by former President Ronald Reagan, switched to the Republican Party. He also became an evangelical Christian.
After losing two bids to become a U.S. congressman in 1988 and 1990, Pence worked as a conservative talk show host before running again for Congress in 2000, this time winning a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Pence served in the House until 2013, rising through the ranks to become a member of the chamber’s Republican leadership, with a reputation as a staunch conservative.
He ran for governor of Indiana in 2012, narrowly winning election, and assumed office in January 2013. While governor, Pence pursued a tax-cutting and socially conservative agenda, including measures to restrict abortions.
TRUMP’S VICE PRESIDENT
Pence dropped out of his gubernatorial re-election bid in 2016 to become Trump’s vice presidential running mate.
Trump’s choice of Pence in 2016 was widely seen as a move to solidify support among Christian conservatives.
Their relationship remained steady throughout Trump’s many scandals in office, with Pence demonstrating fierce loyalty during Trump’s four-year term. He repeatedly defended Trump or stayed silent.
RIFT OVER 2020 ELECTION RESULTS
Pence came under huge pressure from Trump to overturn his 2020 loss to Democrat Joe Biden when Congress certified the election results on Jan. 6, 2021. As vice president, Pence oversaw the certification in his ceremonial role as president of the U.S. Senate.
Pence refused to do Trump’s bidding, incurring the wrath of Trump and his supporters who stormed the U.S. Capitol that day, some threatening to kill Pence.
In March, Pence decried Trump’s role in the riot and the threat it posed.
“His reckless words endangered my family and everyone at the Capitol that day, and I know history will hold Donald Trump accountable,” Pence said.
Pence will focus much of his efforts in coming months on Iowa, which kicks off the Republican nominating contest next year.
Iowa has a significant number of evangelical voters among its Republican electorate. Pence hopes a strong showing there will give him momentum and propel him into contention.
(Reporting by Tim Reid and Moira Warburton; Editing by Ross Colvin and Grant McCool)