Former Vice President Mike Pence faced questioning from an Iowa voter regarding his role in certifying Donald Trump's defeat in the 2020 election. During a campaign stop in Sioux City, Pence defended his ceremonial role on January 6, 2021 ahead of the Capitol riot, as the voter raised concerns about him changing history.
Luann Bertrand, an Iowa voter, expressed her dissatisfaction with Pence's decision to certify Joe Biden's victory, suggesting that he could have prevented Biden from assuming the presidency. Bertrand questioned whether Pence ever "second-guessed" himself, believing that he had changed the course of history for the country.
In response to Bertrand's remarks, Pence emphasized that his role on January 6 had been "misunderstood." He argued that he fulfilled his constitutional duty to uphold the process and did not have the authority to personally elect the President.
Pence urged Bertrand to consult the Constitution, asserting that it clearly states the role of the Vice President in opening and counting the electoral votes.
You can see what happened in the video below.
Bertrand began with the following question:
“Do you ever second-guess yourself? That was a constitutional right that you had to send those votes back to the states. It was not like you were going to personally elect him ... You changed history for this country."
Pence responded that his role “continues to be misunderstood” and said that he “kept” his oath to the Constitution that day, adding:
“Don’t take my word for it, go read the Constitution. Now really, I say this with great affection and respect — the Constitution’s very clear. ... The Constitution says you open and count the votes, no more no less."
Pence completed his own defense by hitting back at former President Donald Trump, who has regularly attacked Pence for not going along with the plot to subvert the election process.
“No vice president in American history ever asserted the authority that you have been convinced that I had, and I want to tell you, with all due respect, I said before and I said when I announced, President Trump is wrong about my authority that day and he’s still wrong. I believe it with all my heart."
In a subsequent interview with CNN's Kyung Lah, Bertrand expressed her opinion that Pence is a "good man" guided by his faith.
However, she maintained her belief that Pence altered history on January 6. Despite her concerns, Bertrand indicated that she would consider supporting Pence in the 2024 election, with the caveat that she considers his role in the certification process a significant "hiccup."
The moment quickly went viral and sparked considerable discussion online.
Reactions to Pence's remarks were mixed—and the voter herself faced considerable backlash.
Pence has long appeared to play both sides, on one hand condemning the former President for pushing the "Big Lie" that the 2020 election was fraudulent, while on the other accusing Democrats of not advocating for election integrity.
In June 2021, five months after the attack, he acknowledged that he and Trump would never "see eye to eye" on January 6, which he referred to as
"... a dark day in the history of the United States Capitol, but thanks to the swift action of the Capitol Police and federal law enforcement, violence was quelled, the Capitol was secured and that same day, we reconvened the Congress and did our duty under the Constitution and the laws of the United States."
However, in March, just three months before he issued that statement, he accused Democrats of ignoring "valid reforms and concerns" regarding the election despite there being no evidence that election fraud took place.
Saying that the events of January 6 "deprived the American people of a substantive discussion in Congress about election integrity in America," he claimed Democrats are ignoring the concerns of Republicans who have bought into the former president's lies about the election.
Pence's remarks, published in an op-ed for the conservative political news website The Daily Signal, were in response to Democrats' efforts to pass the For the People Act, a comprehensive voting and election reform bill.
The legislation ultimately stalled in the Senate after every Republican voted against it, ensuring it would not receive the 60 votes required to overcome a filibuster.