Pence bids to topple Trump as Republican 2024 frontrunner

Former US vice president Mike Pence launched his presidential campaign Wednesday by framing the Republican nomination as a choice between "reckless" Donald Trump and the Constitution -- arguing that his old boss's bid to overturn the last election should bar him from returning in 2024.

Offering a spirited defense of the Trump White House's policies, the deeply religious former radio talk show host and Indiana governor said he was proud to stand with his running mate "every single day" during the 2017-21 administration.

But he drew the line at the then-president's incitement of a crowd to storm the Capitol on January 6, 2021, as Pence was inside, overseeing the certification of Joe Biden's election win.

"As I've said many times, on that fateful day, president Trump's words were reckless and endangered my family and everyone at the Capitol," Pence told supporters in Ankeny, Iowa.

"The American people deserve to know that on that day, President Trump also demanded that I choose between him and the Constitution. Now voters will be faced with the same choice. I chose the Constitution and I always will."

Pence honed a reputation as an unstintingly loyal vice president who stuck with Trump throughout a scandal-plagued four years in the White House, and brought the religious right into the tent.

But the evangelical Christian's refusal to follow Trump's urging and use his role as president of the Senate to sabotage the 2020 election made him a pariah with Trump's fanatical base -- and the populist firebrand himself.

Pence was forced to flee for his life when a mob directed by Trump to march on the Capitol broke through barricades and called for the vice president's execution. 

Pence, who in a launch video earlier...

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