Pence tells GOP donors that the party “has no place in this party to apologize for Putin,” in contrast to Trump

Former Vice President Mike Pence told some of the Republican Party’s top donors Friday night that the party could not provide any support for Russian President Vladimir Putin, in contrast to former President Trump, who called Putin “smart” and “smart” during his tenure. Interview last week.

“There is no place in this party for an apology for Putin,” Pence said, according to excerpts of the letter obtained by CBS News. “There is room only for the heroes of liberty.”

Some members of his own party criticized Trump for the comments. But in Speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference Last weekend, even then Putin’s invasion of Ukraine At first, Trump repeated his praise of Putin and belittled American leadership.

“The problem is not that Putin is smart, which of course is smart, but the real problem is that our leaders are stupid,” Trump told the audience.

Trump is expected to address donors in a retreat on Saturday evening.

Much of Pence’s remarks focused on the Russian invasion of Ukraine. He told donors he was “deeply moved” by the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyand criticized some of President Biden’s foreign policy decisions, including the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Pence also emphasized that NATO expansion was not responsible for the Russian invasion. Trump has repeatedly criticized NATO while in office, and last week at the CPAC he criticized the leaders of NATO countries as “not smart” in their handling of the run-up to the Russian invasion.

Where would our friends in Eastern Europe be today if they were not members of NATO? Pence said. Where would the Russian tanks be today if NATO had not expanded the frontiers of freedom?

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Pence also encouraged Republicans to look to the future rather than return to the 2020 election if they are to succeed in the upcoming midterm elections. This vision also represents a clear departure from Trump’s; He still speaks at length about his loss in 2020 and continues to assert baselessly that the election was rigged.

“We cannot win by fighting yesterday’s battles or by letting go of the past,” Pence said. “Elections are about the future. Fellow Republicans, we can only win if we unite around an optimistic vision of the future based on our highest values.”

Pence puts his differences with Trump on hold about a week after telling the former president to attend a private reception at the CPAC that they would be “very happy,” in response to a question about the 2024 race. Trump also told the crowd that he knows who they “don’t want the vice president position.”

This is not the first time that Pence has criticized his former boss. Last month, he said,Trump is wrongÔÇťAlleging that Pence has the right to overturn the election. Last June, Pence said he did not know if he and Trump would do so.Ever face to faceAbout the January 6 attack on the Capitol.

As Pence continues to plan his future, the former vice president is expected to unveil what he calls the “freedom agenda” he has developed with nearly 50 fellow conservatives.

“Our goal is to help unite conservatives around an agenda that is entirely optimistic, forward-looking, and conservative that could save our country from the radical left,” Pence said.

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Pence accused Biden of “singing out the Republican hymn” during his State of the Union address this week by focusing on secure borders, police funding, keeping schools open and buying Americanism. He also criticized the president’s comments on immigration reform, transgender children, and raising taxes on corporations and wealthy Americans.

He also disagreed with the president’s handling of the Ukraine crisis, saying Mr. Biden had “wasted the deterrence our administration put in place to prevent Putin and Russia from trying to forcibly redraw international borders.” He believes the Biden administration should take further steps to punish Russia, including imposing sanctions on all Russian oil exports around the world.

Like other Republicans, Pence paints an optimistic view of what is at stake in 2022, stressing that midterms offer a rare opportunity to win a large share of seats. “Smart Democrats are heading for the hills,” he said, citing more than 30 House members who will retire at the end of this period.

“Let’s be clear about the opportunity before us,” Pence said. “We’re looking at a tidal wave of Republican victory on a scale not seen since 2010, or even since the Republican Revolution of 1994. It really is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

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