Former US vice president Mike Pence suspends presidential campaign

Republican politician announces withdrawal from White House race at gathering in Las Vegas

Former US vice president and Republican presidential candidate Mike Pence, with his wife Karen, acknowledges the crowd at the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) Annual Leadership Summit. AFP
Powered by automated translation

Former US vice president Mike Pence said on Saturday that he was suspending his campaign for the Republican party nomination.

"To the American people I say: This is not my time," Mr Pence, whose campaign never took off, told attendees at the Republican Jewish Coalition's conference in Las Vegas.

Mr Pence becomes the first major candidate to leave a race that has been dominated by his former boss-turned-rival, Donald Trump.

Mr Pence stopped short of endorsing anyone in his speech on Saturday, but in an apparent swipe at Trump, called on Americans to select someone who appeals to "the better angels of our nature" and can lead with "civility."

Mr Pence failed to attract enough anti-Trump Republican primary voters, and donors, to sustain a candidacy that has languished in the low single digits in opinion polls and struggled to raise money since he announced his White House bid in June.

As a result Mr Pence, a stolid campaigner short on charisma, was low on cash by October and despite spending time and resources in the first Republican nominating state of Iowa, had failed to catch fire there.

When his campaign released Pence's third quarter fundraising totals on Oct. 15, his candidacy was $620,000 in debt and only had $1.2 million cash on hand, far less than several better-performing Republican rivals and insufficient to sustain the financial demands of a White House race.

In several past elections, former vice presidents who have competed to become the White House nominee have succeeded, including Republican George H.W. Bush in 1988 and Democrat Al Gore in 2000.

This year, Mr Pence was up against the political juggernaut that is Mr Trump, along with other rivals who appealed more to anti-Trump primary voters and donors, including former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

Mr Pence ran as a traditional social and fiscal conservative, and a foreign policy hawk, calling for increased military aid to Ukraine and cuts in welfare entitlement spending.

Updated: October 28, 2023, 8:55 PM