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Former Vice President Mike Pence, a potential 2024 rival to Donald Trump gave a speech Tuesday in Washington describing an “agenda for the future” and called on the party “not to look backwards.”
Pence and Trump both returned to Washington Tuesday for the first time since leaving office, delivering dueling speeches hours apart.
“I believe conservatives must focus on the future to win back America,” Pence said before the Young America’s Foundation, a student conservative group. “We can’t afford to take our eyes off the road in front of us because what’s at stake is the very survival of our way of life.”
Trump’s appearance in the nation’s capital — his first trip back since Jan. 20, 2021, when President Joe Biden was sworn into office — comes as some who are mulling runs have been increasingly willing to challenge him directly.
They include Pence, who outlined his “Freedom Agenda” not far from where Trump was to speak before an allied think tank that has been crafting an agenda for a possible second term.
WATCH: Republican divide widens as Trump, Pence take divergent paths
While Trump still often complains about the election he claims was stolen from him a year and a half ago, Pence said, “Some people may choose to focus on the past, but elections are about the future.”
The former White House partners are making matching appearances again after campaigning for rival candidates in Arizona Friday.
And they come amid news that Pence’s former chief of staff, Marc Short, has testified before a federal grand jury investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol.
Short was at the Capitol that day as Pence fled an angry mob of rioters who called for his hanging after Trump wrongly insisted Pence had the power to overturn to the election results.
Asked about the growing divide between Trump and himself, a man who was once the former president’s most loyal sidekick, Pence said the two don’t differ on issues.
“But we may differ on focus. I truly do believe that elections are about the future and that it’s absolutely essential at a time when so many Americans are hurting and so many families are struggling, that we don’t give way to the temptation to look back,” he said.
Pence had also planned to deliver a speech at the Heritage Foundation in Washington on the eve of Trump’s visit, but that was postponed because his plane was diverted by bad weather.
Trump’s speech comes as allies have urged him to spend more time talking about his vision for the future and less time relitigating the 2020 election as he prepares to announce an expected 2024 White House campaign.
Trump has spent much of his time since leaving office fixated on the 2020 election and spreading lies about his loss to sow doubt about Biden’s victory.
Indeed, even as the House Jan. 6 committee was laying bare his desperate attempts to remain in power and his refusal to call off a violent mob of his supporters as they tried to halt the peaceful transition of power, Trump has continued to try to pressure officials to overturn Biden’s win, despite there being no legal means to decertify it.
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