A longtime friend of Mike Pence says the former vice president, who was booed last week as he delivered a speech, is the target of public frustration over a controversial election and the questionable claim that Pence could have used his public office to stop the certification of electors.
Pence was speaking June 18 at the Faith and Freedom Coalition Conference, held in Orlando, when some in the audience booed him and even yelled “Traitor!" as he spoke. That frustration comes after Pence, in January, openly defied Donald Trump by accepting the certification of state electors to finalize the 2020 presidential election.
According to the U.S. Constitution, the Vice President is tasked with overseeing electoral votes from the states since he serves as president of the U.S. Senate. Some legal scholars have called the role a largely ceremonial one, with no room for political or legal maneuvering.
Pence ultimately reached that same conclusion, too, and did so despite Trump's demand that he use his authority to halt the electoral counting.
"It is my considered judgment,” Pence wrote in a letter to Congress, “that my oath to support and defend the Constitution constrains me from claiming unilateral authority to determine which electoral votes should be counted and which should not."
That view was not shared by many voters nor by his frustrated boss, who said in a Twitter post that Pence “didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!"
Micah Clark, who leads the American Family Association of Indiana, knows Pence personally from his time as Indiana governor and is now witnessing millions of Americans blame Pence for allowing Joe Biden to enter the White House.
“And in some ways Mike is a victim of that feeling,” Clark tells One News Now. “The second thing is they're frustrated with his performance, fairly or unfairly, as the head of the Senate in the election count. But he is taking it on the chin for what's happened in our Election Day."
Reacting to the booing crowd, AFR show host Sandy Rios says she was not surprised at the reception for Pence considering his decision.
“When [Pence] could have done something,” she says, “he chose to do nothing and that was very disappointing."
Looking ahead to a presidential run, both Rios and Clark predict many voters won’t forgive Pence for his decision.
“I think if you just look at circumstances now,” Rios observes, “honestly I think any notion that Vice President Pence could win the candidacy, much less the presidency, are just not great.”
“Fairly or unfairly, he's being labeled with having been weak at a time when Trump was looking for strength,” Clark says. “And so, again, I think Mike has taken the brunt of a lot of frustration from voters and it's hurting his brand."