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Former Vice President Mike Pence drops out of Republican Presidential race

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Former Vice President Mike Pence officially withdrew his bid for the Republican presidential nomination on Saturday. His decision, which was announced at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s (RJC) annual gathering in Las Vegas, marked the end of a campaign fraught with financial challenges and a lack of significant support in the polls.

Pence, addressing the crowd at the RJC event, stated, “It’s become clear to me: This is not my time. So after much prayer and deliberation, I have decided to suspend my campaign for president effective today.” Despite the uphill battle he faced, Pence expressed no regrets and received multiple standing ovations from the supportive audience.

Notably, Pence’s exit from the race distinguishes him as the first major candidate to step aside in a field dominated by his former political ally turned rival, Donald Trump. This development underscores the profound transformation of the Republican Party under Trump’s influence.

While Pence refrained from endorsing any of his fellow candidates upon leaving the race, he continued to employ language critical of Trump, urging his fellow Republicans to seek a presidential candidate who could lead the nation with civility and uphold traditional American values.

Meanwhile, at a separate event in Las Vegas, Donald Trump responded to Pence’s withdrawal by expressing his belief that Pence owed him his support, saying, “He should endorse me. I chose him, made him vice president. But people in politics can be very disloyal.”

Pence’s decision to exit the presidential race comes more than two months ahead of the crucial Iowa caucuses, which he had previously staked his campaign on. By doing so, he avoids accumulating further debt and the potential humiliation of failing to qualify for the third Republican primary debate scheduled for November 8 in Miami. As of his most recent campaign filing, Pence ended September with just $1.18 million in his campaign account and $621,000 in debt, a financial burden that had been mounting and would have taken years to pay off, given his lack of personal wealth.

For Pence, this withdrawal is a significant setback, considering his long years of loyalty as Trump’s vice president. It was during their final days in office that Trump wrongly believed Pence possessed the authority to overturn the 2020 election results, which created a deep rift between them. Pence’s refusal to support Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud led to significant criticism from Trump’s supporters, who considered him a traitor.

Among Trump’s critics, Pence was seen as an enabler who defended the former president even in the face of his most controversial actions. According to an August poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, 57 percent of U.S. adults viewed Pence negatively, with only 28 percent having a positive view.

Pence had focused his campaign efforts on Iowa, a state with a substantial white Evangelical population known for supporting religious and socially conservative candidates. However, despite his hardline positions on issues like abortion, Pence struggled to gain momentum, even in this target state.

His departure from the race marks a significant shift in the Republican primary landscape, leaving questions about which candidate will benefit from his exit and whether the party can coalesce around a single Trump alternative.

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