Amid Jan. 6 hearings praising him, Pence talks past 'tragic' insurrection to tout time with Trump

"I know we did our duty. But I will always be proud of our record."

June 21, 2022, 5:48 PM

At the same time that he is being hailed on Capitol Hill for upholding his constitutional duty during last year's Capitol attack -- and his aides are describing how he was urged to help overturn the 2020 election -- former Vice President Mike Pence is focusing on other issues in public.

In remarks on Monday, Pence looked to move beyond the deadly rioting that briefly forced him into lockdown on Jan. 6, 2021, and tried to turn the page from the pressure campaign led by then-President Donald Trump seeking to have Pence reject the election results.

Pence's appearances, most recently at the University Club of Chicago on Monday, have served as a split-screen with the ongoing hearings held by the special House committee investigating the mob.

In Chicago and elsewhere, Pence has only briefly mentioned the insurrection, instead criticizing President Joe Biden's record and touting his time serving alongside former President Trump for four years.

"We've all been through a lot over the last several years," Pence said in his speech in Chicago. "A global pandemic, social unrest, a divisive election, a tragic day in our nation's capital -- and an administration seemingly every day driving our economy into the abyss of a socialist welfare state."

"Jan. 6 was a tragic day, and I know we did our duty. But I will always be proud of our record," Pence added in an interview with Fox News. "And I am not going to allow the Democrats to use that tragic day to distract attention from their failed agenda or to demean the intentions of 74 million Americans who rallied behind our cause."

Pence has also repeatedly referred to the "Trump-Pence" administration in his remarks and said in an interview with Fox Business this week that he believed "there has never been a time in my life where a president was more disconnected from the American people" as Biden.

Those comments mark a departure from Pence's posture earlier this year, when he was forceful in his denials of Trump's repeated claims that he had the power to overturn the last presidential race.

PHOTO: President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence arrive for a campaign rally at Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport, Sept. 25, 2020, in Newport News, Va.
President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence arrive for a campaign rally at Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport, Sept. 25, 2020, in Newport News, Va.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

"President Trump is wrong. I had no right to overturn the election," Pence said in a February speech. "The presidency belongs to the American people and the American people alone. And, frankly, there's no idea more un-American than the notion that any one person can choose the American president."

Meanwhile, with the House hearings, Democrats and other Trump detractors -- and some of Pence's aides -- have detailed his actions on Jan. 6, 2021, praising him for resisting Trump.

"In a time of absolutely scandalous betrayal of people's oaths of office and crimes being committed all over the place, somebody who does their job and sticks to the law will stand out as a hero on that day. And I think on that day he was a hero for resisting all of the pressure campaigns and the coercive efforts to get him to play along with this continuation of the 'big lie,' this big joke that he could somehow call off all the proceedings himself," Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., who sits on the Jan. 6 committee, said of Pence on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday.

"Vice President Pence understood that his oath of office was more important than his loyalty to President Trump. He did his duty. President Trump, unequivocally, did not," Republican Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the vice chair of the Jan. 6 committee and arguably the biggest Republican critic of Trump, said last week.

PHOTO: Former Vice President Mike Pence speaks to a crowd of supporters at the University Club of Chicago, June 20, 2022 in Chicago.
Former Vice President Mike Pence speaks to a crowd of supporters at the University Club of Chicago, June 20, 2022 in Chicago.
Jim Vondruska/Getty Images

Such commendations, however, could irk those in the pro-Trump wing of the GOP -- who already may be skeptical of Pence -- at the same time that the former vice president has not downplayed future political aspirations.

Among other moves, he has traveled to several states that host early presidential primaries, including Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. And while surveys have shown that he polls far behind Trump in a prospective 2024 GOP primary, Pence has indicated he could still run even if his former boss also launches a campaign.

"We'll go where we're called," Pence told The New York Times in an interview published last month.

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