Former Vice President Mike Pence slammed Donald Trump following Hamas’ sneak attack on Israel and tried to shift the blame for the actions of Palestinian terrorists in the Middle East on to the 45th president of the United States.
According to Pence, isolationism in the Republican Party is to blame for the Hamas attack on Israel, with the former VIP decrying American “retreat on the world stage.”
In a stunning reach, Pence attempted to blame “voices of appeasement like Donald Trump, Vivek Ramaswamy and Ron DeSantis that I believe have run contrary to the tradition in our party that America is the leader of the free world.”
Pence’s comments in Iowa represented the first ripple in the Republican primary from the violence that erupted on Saturday — and effectively threw down a challenge to Republicans he said have “embraced the language of isolationism and appeasement.”
The role of the United States in maintaining global security is one of the most important points of friction between the Republican presidential candidates — one that could now erupt in a new way because of the violence in Israel. Pence’s criticism of Trump was uncharacteristically pointed. But it was even more remarkable for the break it represented in their previously lockstep approach to Israel. Once a signature priority of the Trump-Pence administration, the U.S.-Israel relationship Saturday was suddenly becoming a wedge issue between them.
Faulting President Joe Biden for “projecting weakness on the world stage,” Pence also pointed an accusatory finger rightward at an event here near the Nebraska border.
“This is also what happens when you have leaders in the Republican Party signaling retreat on the world stage,” Pence said.
When he added the Reaganesque line that “it’s time to get back to peace through strength,” the candidate polling in single digits nationally received an uncharacteristically sustained round of applause.
“Backing our allies and doing things in their neighborhood so it doesn’t come to the United States is important,” Larry Winum, a 59-year-old banker who had come to hear Pence at a local senior center, said.
Pence has made engagement with the world and backing Ukraine in the nation’s conflict with Russia a hallmark of his campaign, earlier this year becoming the first GOP presidential candidate to meet with Ukrainian President Zelensky.
It’s a message that’s not popular within his own party: Even his own brother, Rep. Greg Pence of Indiana, voted recently against an appropriations bill aimed at providing further aid to Ukraine.