Mike Pence spends 4th of July in ‘vitally important’ Iowa as he kicks off 3-day swing
Former Vice President Mike Pence spent the 4th of July day shaking hands, taking selfies, holding babies and petting at least two dogs as he marched in Urbandale’s parade.
Pence walked — and at times, ran — the 2-mile parade route, wearing a red polo shirt, white New Balance tennis shoes and blue jeans.
“Today, I was literally running for president,” he told reporters following the parade.
Along the way, he received encouragement from the crowd, including cheers and calls of “Mike, you’re the man!” and “we appreciate all your service!”
He also received some boos and shouts of “abortion rights” and “my body, my choice” from members of the crowd who oppose his stance in favor of restricting abortion.
The uphill jog reflects the job Pence has in persuading Iowa Republicans to caucus for him. He lags former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in polling.
But neither were in Iowa over the holiday weekend, leaving Pence as the highest-profile candidate campaigning in the state.
“I can’t account for what other campaigns decided, but for me it was vitally important to be here where the journey to the White House always begins,” Pence told reporters after the parade. “And to spend two miles — at times jogging uphill — to take our case to the people of Iowa. And I promise you we’re going to keep running that hard all the way to the finish.”
Pence said he’s eager for Iowans to get to know his story beyond his time as vice president, including his time as governor of Indiana and as a conservative member of the U.S. House of Representatives.
He said the warm reception he got along the parade route encouraged him that he could be successful.
“At the end of the day, I will tell you, we just feel at home in Iowa,” Pence said. “I mean, I’ve got to be honest with you, if I close my eyes and then opened them, you could convince me I’m still in Indiana. We’ve been to so many Fourth of July parades in communities just like Urbandale.”
Pence has said he intends to visit all 99 Iowa counties, and Tuesday’s events were the beginning of a three-day swing that will take him through western Iowa.
Iowa Democratic Party Chair Rita Hart released a statement Tuesday criticizing Pence ahead of his visit.
“As America celebrates 247 years of independence today, let’s not fail to realize that each of us must be vigilant in defending our freedoms,” Hart said in the statement. “Mike Pence is here in Iowa actually helping to lead the MAGA charge to strip away those basic freedoms. Pence is running on a promise to take away women’s freedom to make their own health decisions while unashamedly embracing election deniers, and pushing to dismantle pillars of economic security.”
Pence repeats there was ‘no pressure’ from Trump to call Arizona governor about 2020 results
Pence said former President Trump did not pressure him to call Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey to find fraud after the 2020 election.
“I was asked to check in with a few governors, but there was no pressure,” Pence said. “I was simply gathering information and passing that along.”
He described his inquiries as “routine.”
“We were just trying to determine where the process was in places like Georgia, places like Arizona, that were going through a review of their election results,” Pence said. “And I didn’t receive any pressure from President Trump other than to gather an update on what was happening in those states.”
Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election, including his pressure on state officials, are under investigation by Special Counsel Jack Smith.
Asked if he suspected fraud in those states at that time, Pence said there were irregularities in the election and there were legal challenges in the process of playing out.
“I think there were many voting irregularities that took place in the election. Ultimately they were upheld by the courts,” he said. “But some half a dozen states changed their election rules in the name of COVID. They were ultimately sustained under the law. Those states certified their elections and I’ll always believe, by God’s grace, that we did our duty on January 6 to certify that election.”