Reprinted with permission from Alternet
When former President Donald Trump appeared on the first episode of "The Truth with Lisa Boothe" — a new iHeartRadio podcast hosted by far-right Fox News pundit Boothe — she asked him to discuss the state of the Republican Party following his presidency. And Trump's response was as noteworthy for who he didn't mention as for who he did.
The 36-year-old Boothe asked Trump, "Who are the people right now who you think are part of the future of the Republican Party?" — to which he responded, "I think we have a lot of people. We have a lot of young, good people. [Gov.] Ron DeSantis is doing a really good job in Florida. I think [Sen.] Josh Hawley has shown some real courage in going after big tech. Somebody that's been really terrific is [Sen.] Ted Cruz. He and I had it out for a while."
The former president went on to say, "[Sen.] Rand Paul has been great. Really, a lot of people have been terrific. [Former White House Press Secretary] Sarah Huckabee [Sanders] is going to do great in Arkansas. I think that [South Dakota Gov.] Kristi Noem has done a terrific job. The Republican Party is stacked."
Prominent Republicans who Trump didn't mention when evaluating the future of the GOP include former Vice President Mike Pence, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley — all of whom have been mentioned as possible GOP presidential candidates for 2024. Nor did Trump mention House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy or Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.
Boothe asked Trump about the 2024 presidential election, making it clear that she hopes he will run again but saying that if he doesn't, who would he like to see run? The former president responded, "Some of the names I guess I just mentioned perhaps…. I'll make that decision sometime later, but there's a pretty deep bench."
The absence of Pence from the list is perhaps most notable. Pence was a devoted ally of Trump for years, and vice presidents are often seen as the natural predecessor of their presidents. Pence has typically ranked high in polls asking Republicans who they would want as a 2024 nominee if Trump doesn't run.
Although Trump didn't mention Pence when asked about the future of the GOP, he did mention him during other parts of the interview — and he still holds a grudge against the former vice president for not opposing the certification of now-President Joe Biden's Electoral College victory during a joint session of Congress on January 6.
Trump also doubled down on his false and totally debunked claim that he was the real winner of the 2020 presidential election.
The former president told Boothe, "It's too bad Mike Pence didn't go back, because you would have had a much different result had Mike Pence gone. He could have said, 'I'm sorry, but this was not approved by the state legislature, and according to the Constitution, it had to be'…. Mike Pence could have sent it back. He could have said, 'I'm sorry, but you have to check this out.'"
As Business Insider noted, these claims are false:
But Pence did not have the power to reject entire states' electoral college vote certificates unilaterally or to "send back" the certificates in the hopes that state legislatures would override a vote from the electors of their states.
Under the parameters of the Electoral Count Act of 1887, Pence's role, as Senate president, was to oversee the counting of certificates and to field objections to the counting of states' electoral votes from members of Congress.