Republican presidential candidates are being careful not to alienate supporters of former President Donald Trump, including former Vice President Mike Pence, who admits to a "falling out" but says no one else could have won in 2016.
"I have every confidence the people of this country, and particularly Republican primary voters are going to pick the right standard bearer for this time," Pence said on Wednesday's "Hugh Hewitt Show." "I've said before: Nobody could have defeated Hillary Clinton in 2016 other than Donald Trump. Republican primary voters knew that."
Pence noted that he backed Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, over Trump in Iowa initially before he became a believer in the Trump movement.
"I was proud to campaign with him, I was proud to serve with him for four years," Pence continued. "We had a falling out at the end.
"We still have a profound difference of opinion on what the Constitution required of me that day [Jan. 6, 2021]. I'm proud of that record, and I have every confidence that Republican primary voters are going to choose wisely once again.
"We're going to have the right standard bearer."
The debates will potentially showcase the contrasts of the candidates. Pence said his experience gives him an edge.
"I have a little bit of experience with nationally televised debating; some people think we did all right," Pence said, pointing to his one VP debate with VP Kamala Harris in the fall of 2020.
Now, Pence said he might be the best suited to debate his former boss, Trump.
"People ask me all the time: 'How do you envision debating Donald Trump?' I tell them I've debated Donald Trump 1,000 times," Pence said. "We had a close working relationship for four years."
Pence warned that GOP candidates are making a mistake in attacking Trump.
"Some of the candidates are criticizing the record of the Trump-Pence administration; I'm proud of the Trump-Pence administration," Pence said. "I'll defend it everywhere I go.
"But it didn't mean the president and I always agree. I know how to have a good policy debate with the president."
Trump has said taking arrows from a slew of also-ran candidates pulling just single digits in the polls would not be "worth it," but Pence still hopes Trump comes to the table.
"I'd look forward to it and I sure do hope he comes to every single one of those debates," Pence said.
In the 26-minute interview with Hewitt, Pence made his best pitches for the GOP nomination over Trump and others. Tops among them is what the vice presidential experience has taught him and who he knows because of it.
"We would know what to do and who to do it with on Day 1 to turn this country around," Pence said.
Mostly complimentary of Trump, Pence took some veiled shots, saying his Cabinet-building would be best to provide "personal integrity," "character," and "values."
In Washington, D.C., "personnel is policy," Pence concluded, denouncing President Joe Biden's "failed leadership at the top" and "all across the board."
Eric Mack has been a writer and editor at Newsmax since 2016. He is a 1998 Syracuse University journalism graduate and a New York Press Association award-winning writer.
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