Swiping at Trump, Pence says no room in GOP ‘for apologists for Putin,‘ says ‘elections are about the future’ – Fox News

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If you need further proof of the widening chasm between former Vice President Mike Pence and his one-time boss, former President Donald Trump, look to Pence’s speech this weekend at the Republican National Committee’s (RNC) retreat for top GOP donors.

 “There is no room in this party for apologists for Putin. There is only room for champions of freedom,” Pence said at the RNC’s gathering in New Orleans, according to excerpts of his speech obtained by Fox News and to tweets by the former vice president.

And a Republican source in the room at Friday night’s appearance by Pence told Fox News that the line received applause from the audience at the event, which was closed to press.

PENCE, IN FOX NEWS INTERVIEW, CALLS ON BIDEN TO HIT RUSSIA HARDER

Pence didn’t refer to Trump by name, but his targeting of those in the GOP who haven’t condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin’s deadly invasion of neighboring Ukraine follows recent remarks by the former president describing Putin’s “genius” and “savvy” in launching the attack.

At a speech a week ago at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida, Trump reemphasized his stance toward the Russian leader, telling the crowd that Putin was “smart.”

Trump was scheduled to speak at the RNC donor retreat on Saturday night.

Pence also swiped at Trump during his speech over the former president’s constant re-litigating of his 2020 election loss to now President Biden and his repeated claims, without providing concrete proof, that his defeat was due to massive voter fraud.

“Elections are about the future,” Pence said, emphasizing comments he made in a December interview with Fox News. “My fellow Republicans, we can only win if we are united around an optimistic vision for the future based on our highest values. We cannot win by fighting yesterday’s battles, or by re-litigating the past.”

2024 WATCH: DIVIDE BETWEEN PENCE AND TRUMP WIDENS

Trump and his former vice president could potentially face off if both decide to bid for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination. Trump has repeatedly flirted with making another White House run, and Pence is making the early moves that could eventually lead to a bid of his own. 

Then-President Donald Trump arrives with then-Vice President Mike Pence for a campaign rally at Cherry Capital Airport in Traverse City, Michigan on November 2, 2020. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

Then-President Donald Trump arrives with then-Vice President Mike Pence for a campaign rally at Cherry Capital Airport in Traverse City, Michigan on November 2, 2020. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images) ( (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images))

Pence, who has been crisscrossing the country to help fellow Republicans running in the November elections, told Fox News during a stop in New Hampshire in early December that after the midterms are over, “we’ll do as our family has always done. We’ll reflect and pray and consider where we might next serve.”

For four years, Pence served as the loyal vice president to Trump.

But everything changed on Jan. 6, 2021, as right-wing extremists – including some chanting “hang Mike Pence” – stormed the U.S. Capitol aiming to upend congressional certification of Biden’s Electoral College victory that was overseen by Pence.

ARE TRUMP AND PENCE NO LONGER ON SPEAKING TERMS?

In the more than 13 months since the end of the Trump administration, the former president and vice president have further drifted apart, with Pence acknowledging in a Fox News interview in January that he had not spoken with Trump since last summer.

And last month, in his strongest language to date, Pence rebuked his one-time boss, calling him out by name while discussing Trump’s claim that Pence could have overturned the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Former Vice President Mike Pence waves to attendees at the Florida chapter of the Federalist Society's annual meeting at Disney's Yacht Club resort in Walt Disney World on Friday, Feb. 4, 2022, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Stephen M. Dowell/Lake Buena Vista Sentinel via AP)

Former Vice President Mike Pence waves to attendees at the Florida chapter of the Federalist Society’s annual meeting at Disney’s Yacht Club resort in Walt Disney World on Friday, Feb. 4, 2022, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Stephen M. Dowell/Lake Buena Vista Sentinel via AP) (Stephen M. Dowell/Lake Buena Vista Sentinel via AP)

“There are those in our party who believe that as the presiding officer over the joint session of Congress, I possessed unilateral authority to reject electoral college votes,” Pence said near the end of a speech at a Federalist Society conference in Florida in which he mostly took aim at the Biden administration. 

PENCE BOOKS BACK-TO-BACK TRIPS TO SOUTH CAROLINA

“I heard this week, President Trump said I had the right to ‘overturn the election’. President Trump is wrong … I had no right to overturn the election,” Pence said to applause from the crowd of conservative lawyers.

Christie, Hutchinson, to New Hampshire

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is headed later this month to New Hampshire, the state that for a century’s held the first presidential primary in the race for the White House.

Former GOP Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey addresses the Republican Jewish Coalition's annual leadership meeting, on Nov. 6, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada 

Former GOP Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey addresses the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual leadership meeting, on Nov. 6, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada  (Fox News )

Fox News reported on Thursday that the former two-term governor and 2016 GOP presidential candidate will speak on March 21 at ‘Politics and Eggs’ at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College. The speaking series over the past two decades has become a must stop for White House hopefuls visiting the Granite State.

Six years ago, Christie’s presidential run crashed and burned after a disappointing and distant sixth-place finish in New Hampshire’s presidential primary, where he’d placed all his chips.

CHRIS CHRISTIE PUSHES POST-TRUMP VISION OF THE GOP

Unlike nearly all the other potential 2024 Republican presidential contenders, Christie has no problem speaking publicly about his likely national ambitions, telling Fox News in November that “having run already, I’m not going to run for the experience. I’ve had the experience. If I run, I run because I think I can win, and I think I can make a difference.”

Fox News also reported that term-limited Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas will speak at ‘Politics and Eggs’ on April 25.

Asa Hutchinson, governor of Arkansas, speaks with members of the media on Monday, July 16, 2021.  Photographer: Liz Sanders/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Asa Hutchinson, governor of Arkansas, speaks with members of the media on Monday, July 16, 2021.  Photographer: Liz Sanders/Bloomberg via Getty Images (Liz Sanders/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The conservative two-term governor and chair of the National Governors Association has been vocal in his opposition to Trump remaining as the head of the GOP. Hutchinson’s said that Trump should not lead the country, or the Republican Party, going forward. And he’s also said he wouldn’t support Trump in the former president ran for the White House again in 2024.

Klobuchar in New Hampshire

Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota this weekend became the latest alum of the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination race to return to New Hampshire.

Kloubuchar on Saturday was in the coastal city of Portsmouth to headline a major New Hampshire Democratic Party dinner and fundraiser.

New Hampshire’s a key general election battleground and while Klobuchar’s mission was all about the 2022 elections, her trip did spark a touch of 2024 buzz as speculation persists that 79-year-old Biden may not seek reelection for a second term even though he’s repeatedly said he’ll run again.

Klobuchar’s no stranger to the Granite State. She had a solid third place finish in the 2020 New Hampshire Democratic presidential primary – just a few points behind Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and now Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

Buttigieg made a stop in the state in December to showcase the benefits of the recently passed $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure measure, which was a top domestic achievement of the Biden administration.

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And Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, who also ran for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, also came back to New Hampshire in December to headline a major state party fundraising dinner.

Saturday’s dinner was in honor Martha Fuller Clark, a former longtime state senator, a New Hampshire Democratic Party vice chair for a decade and a half, and a delegate to every Democratic National Convention since 1996.

Fox News Mark Meredith and Mike Emanuel contributed to this report

Source URL: https://www.foxnews.com/politics/swiping-at-trump-pence-says-no-room-in-gop-for-apologists-for-putin-says-elections-are-about-the-future

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