Former Vice President Mike Pence spoke at the annual National Rifle Association (NRA) convention on Friday and was loudly booed while both entering and leaving the stage.
“We love you Mike!” said one crowd member.
Attempting to play off the booing, Pence responded, “I love you too.”
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Pence’s status as a relentless gun rights activist had little effect on the crowd.
“We don’t need gun control, we need crime control,” said the former vice president during his convention speech, staunchly defending the NRA and the Republican party’s pro-gun stance.
He continued, “We don’t need lectures about the liberties of law-abiding citizens. We need solutions to protect our kids.”
Mild applause followed.
Taking the stage later in the event was none other than former President Donald Trump.
“I hope you gave Pence a good warm approval,” Trump joked, in an apparent attempt to mock his former vice president. Trump continued flaming Pence for the crowd’s reaction to his speech, telling the crowd that “It’s a big news story. You’ve made news today.”
Trump then went on to detail recent Republican primary poll numbers that show him outperforming the other declared and expected candidates for the 2024 presidential election, including Pence. Trump has explicitly announced he is in the race and Pence has strongly hinted that he will run as well.
Trump and Pence were once the closest of political allies, as Pence’s addition to the 2016 presidential ticket was perhaps key to Trump’s mobilization of the religious right which is a key component of the Republican Party base.
Their relationship soured in the aftermath of the 2020 election, when then-President Trump sought to overturn the results after losing to former Vice President Joe Biden.
Trump argued that since the vice president certifies the electoral votes, which are ceremonially counted by Congress, Pence had the power to single-handedly overturn the election. Pence refused to follow through with Trump’s plan, arguing that the vice president does not hold the power in the U.S. political system to change the results of a presidential election.
Trump and his strongest supporters still blame Pence for losing the 2020 election, a dynamic made clear during the former VP’s NRA convention speech, where loud booing could be heard.
In a grand jury proceeding against the former president over the 2020 election, Pence has not resisted a court order that will require him to testify.
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