Former Vice President Mike Pence said on Saturday that he would end his bid for the White House, marking the end of a campaign that had struggled to raise funds or gain major traction in the race dominated by his former boss.
Pence’s announcement arrived with little warning toward the end of remarks given at the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas, prompting gasps from the audience.
“I came here to say it’s become clear to me that it’s not my time. So after much prayer and deliberation, I have decided to suspend my campaign for president effective today,” Pence said.
“I’m leaving this campaign, but let me promise you, I will never leave the fight for conservative values and I will never stop fighting to elect principled Republican leaders to every office in the land.”
His stunning exit arrived exactly two weeks after he filed to appear on New Hampshire’s primary ballot, where his moment in the spotlight was interrupted by a heckler claiming to be his lover.
Pence, while existing in the upper echelon of GOP hopefuls, failed to make even a dent in the gulf that separated him and former president Donald Trump, who has dominated the GOP primary thus far.
Pence had also yet to qualify for the third and final GOP presidential debate after appearing in the first two—his second debate showing plagued by questionable jokes including one about having sex with his wife, Karen Pence.
Politico Magazine last week delved into the “sad, dwindling” nature of Pence’s campaign as he struggled to attract crowds or sheer off support from his opponents.
After four years serving as the right-hand man to Trump, Pence rebuked the president’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election and affirmed the pair’s loss while presiding over the Electoral College, driving a wedge between the two and making enemies of the MAGA die-hards who ridiculed Pence on the campaign trail for upholding the rule of law.
Pence in recent weeks amped up his attacks on Trump, ultimately to no avail. His campaign ended with single-digit support and over $500,000 in debt.
Pence’s former bitter rivals in the race heaped praise onto the conservative following his exit from the contest.
Ron DeSantis, who made no mention of Pence in a speech given on the same stage just moments after he announced his exit, later called Pence “a principled man of faith” in a post to X.
“Casey and I appreciate Mike and Karen for their willingness to put themselves forward in this campaign and wish the Pence family well in their next steps,” DeSantis wrote.
Nikki Haley began her remarks on the stage with praise for Pence’s career and character.
“I want to first say just a special point to Vice President Mike Pence. He’s been a good man of faith. He’s been a good man of service. He has fought for America and he has fought for Israel. And we all owe him a debt of gratitude,” Haley said.
Chris Christie lauded Pence’s resilience in the face of Trump’s calls for him to overturn the 2020 election.
“Mike Pence stood for the constitution of the United States. He deserves our thanks as Americans for putting his oath of office and the Constitution of the United States before personal and political pressure,” Christie wrote on X.
In his exit speech, Pence issued a stark warning against the “new populist movement” in the Republican Party.
Saturday’s announcement could mark the final chapter in Pence’s storied political career as a congressman turned governor turned America’s 48th vice president turned failed presidential candidate who burned out months before the first votes had even been cast.