Mike Pence knocks Trump and lays the groundwork for possible presidential run

Former Vice President Mike Pence has spent the past week outmaneuvering Donald Trump, his old boss and potential 2024 primary opponent.

Shortly after the plane Trump was flying on last weekend was forced to land due to an engine failure, Pence flew to Israel on the private jet of the GOP’s most prized donor, Miriam Adelson. And while Trump was avoiding criticizing Russian President Vladimir Putin in a call-in interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity, Pence and his wife, Karen, flew to the border between Ukraine and Poland to distribute relief aid to refugees.

 
Ukrainian refugees on a bridge at the buffer zone with the Polish border on March 6. (Daniel Leal/AFP via Getty Images)

In perhaps the most telling indication that the political dynamic between the two men has shifted, Pence implicitly hit Trump at a Republican National Committee speech last Friday, saying the GOP should not include any “apologists for Putin.”

“Welcome to the front end of the Pence boomlet,” said veteran Republican pollster Michael Cohen, who has no relation to the former Trump lawyer. “Who had a better week or past few weeks than Pence? I mean, it’s not even close.”

When Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine, he not only resolidified the old Western alliances formed in the wake of World War II, he also shook up the Republican Party’s power dynamics, at least temporarily.

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