Pence flatlines as 2024 field takes shape

“Who?” Doug Gross, a Republican operative who was a chief of staff to former Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, replied flatly when asked about Pence. “It’s just, where would you place him? … With Trumpsters, he didn’t perform when they really wanted him to perform, so he’s DQ’d there. Then you go to the evangelicals, they have plenty of other choices.”

At the moment, Pence occupies a political no-man’s land. Vocal elements of Trump’s base remain furious at him for his refusal to reject the results of the November election, despite him having no authority to do so. Moderates, meanwhile, see too little distance between Pence and the president he catered to for four years. They’re wary the association may turn off the independents and suburban women Trump hemorrhaged in 2018 and again in 2020…

“He’s got to justify to the Trumpistas why he isn’t Judas Iscariot, and then he’s got to demonstrate to a bunch of other Republicans why he hung out with someone they perceive to be a nutjob,” said Sean Walsh, a Republican strategist who worked in the Reagan and George H.W. Bush White Houses and on several presidential campaigns.