Trump and Pence return to Washington for rival speeches

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former President Donald Trump will return to Washington Tuesday for the first time since leaving office, delivering a speech hours after former Vice President Mike Pence, a potential 2024 challenger, called on the Republican Party to stop look back

Trump’s appearance in the nation’s capital, his first trip since President Joe Biden took the oath of office on Jan. 20, 2021, comes as some mulling White House bids have been increasingly more willing to challenge him directly. They include Pence, who on Tuesday laid out his “Freedom Agenda” not far from where Trump was scheduled to speak to an allied think tank that has been crafting an agenda for a possible second term.

While Trump still often complains about the election he falsely claims was stolen from him a year and a half ago, Pence said, “Some people may choose to focus on the past, but the election is about the future.”

“I think conservatives need to focus on the future to take America back,” Pence told the Young America’s Foundation, a conservative student group. “We cannot afford to take our eyes off the road ahead because what is at stake is the very survival of our way of life.”

The former White House partners are making dueling appearances again after campaigning for rival candidates in Arizona on Friday. Their separate speeches come amid news that Pence’s former chief of staff, Marc Short, has testified before a federal grand jury investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Short was at the Capitol that day when Pence fled from an angry mob of rioters who called for his hanging after Trump wrongly insisted that Pence had the power to overturn the election results.

Asked about the growing rift between Trump and himself, a man who was once the former president’s most loyal companion, Pence said the two do not differ on issues.

“But we can differ in approach. I truly believe that elections speak to the future and that it is absolutely essential, at a time when so many Americans are suffering and so many families are struggling, that we not give in to the temptation to look back.” he said.

On Tuesday, Simon & Schuster announced the title of Pence’s next book, “So Help Me God,” to be published in November. The publisher said the book is the “strongest defense of Trump’s record of anyone who served in the administration,” but also “chronicles the breakdown of his relationship from President Trump on January 6, 2021 , when Pence kept his oath to the Constitution.”

Allies have urged Trump to spend more time talking about his vision for the future and less time revisiting the 2020 election as he prepares to announce a planned campaign for the 2024 White House.

He has spent much of his time since leaving office spreading lies about his loss to cast doubt on Biden’s victory. Indeed, while the January 6 House committee exposed his desperate attempts to hang on to power and his refusal to call a violent mob of his supporters as they tried to stop the peaceful transition of power, Trump has continued to try to pressure. officials to overturn Biden’s victory, even though there is no legal means to decertify it.

In his speech on Tuesday, Trump planned to focus on public safety, said his spokesman, Taylor Budowich.

Republican Tommy Tuberville of Alabama said he would be one of the Republican senators planning to attend Trump’s speech.

“You’re going to hear the same thing you hear in every other speech,” Tuberville told reporters at the Capitol. “But, you know, get down there and listen, like a lot of us will.”

The nonprofit America First Policy Institute, which is holding the two-day America First Agenda Summit, is composed of former Trump administration officials and allies and is widely seen as an “administration in hopes” that he could quickly move to the West Wing if Trump had to. run again and win.

Beyond the summit, staff at the America First Policy Institute have been laying their own groundwork for the future, “making sure we have the policies, staff and process nailed down for every key agency as we take back the House White,” he said. Brooke Rollins, president of the America First Policy Institute.

The group is one of several Trump-allied organizations that have continued to push his policies in his absence, including America First Legal, which is dedicated to fighting Biden’s agenda through the court system, the Center for Renewing America and the Conservative Partnership Institute.


AP writer Lisa Mascaro contributed to this report.

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