Speaking before the same conference at which Mr Pence had made his announcement earlier on Saturday, Mr Trump demanded that the former vice president bend the knee.
Mr Trump has long complained that Mr Pence is disloyal after he refused to interfere in the Senate’s certification of Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory. Mr Pence has remained adamant that he performed his constitutional duty in the face of anger from Mr Trump and his voters throughout the 2024 primary, and that choice is likely to have been a key factor in his campaign’s failure to gain real traction in the crowded primary battle.
“I don’t know about Mike Pence. He should endorse me. He should endorse me. You know why? Because I had a great, successful presidency and he was the vice president,” Mr Trump told the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas.
He went on to quip that some politicians were “very disloyal”, referring to Mr Pence and others in the Trump administration who have taken further steps to denounce him.
Trump on Pence: "He should endorse me...I chose him. Made him Vice President. But people in politics can be very disloyal."
Audience member shouts “Traitor! Traitor!”
Trump: “He could have done what he could have done, right?” pic.twitter.com/VrxVtmXDev
— Howard Mortman (@HowardMortman) October 29, 2023
One longtime Trump ally who fits into that category is ex-New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who assisted with Mr Trump’s debate preparation for both of the latter’s presidential campaigns and was thought to have been considered for Cabinet roles. Mr Christie is now the former president’s loudest critic among the 2024 Republican field; he has called Mr Trump’s actions leading up to and during the attack on the Capitol a disgraceful display and disqualifying for Mr Trump’s candidacy.
Like all of Mr Trump’s rivals for the 2024 GOP nomination, however, Mr Christie trails far behind the former president in all available polling.
Candidates including Ron DeSantis, Nikki Haley and Mr Christie are hoping for upset victories or strong performances in early primary states such as New Hampshire, South Carolina and the Iowa caucuses as they look for any glimmer of a chance at dethroning Mr Trump’s presumed dominance in the race. But with the field remaining divided by numerous candidates, the chances of that happening still appear slim.
Other candidates for the nomination were more positive in their descriptions of the former vice president as he exited the race over the weekend.
“He has been a good man of faith. He has been a good man of service. He has fought for America, and he has fought for Israel,” Ms Haley said of Mr Pence during her remarks to the Republican Jewish Coalition on Saturday. “We all owe him a debt of gratitude.”