Former Vice President Mike Pence suggested that an ad from an anti-Trump PAC convinced the former president that he could have overturned the results of the 2020 presidential election.
In an except published Wednesday in the Wall Street Journal from his forthcoming memoir “So Help Me God,” Pence recalled his “last days” with Trump, particularly in the weeks following Joe Biden’s victory, which was being challenged at the time by the president’s lawyers.
“Thirteen days after the 2020 election, I had lunch with President Trump. I told him that if his legal challenges came up short, he could simply accept the results, move forward with the transition, and start a political comeback, winning the Senate runoffs in Georgia, the 2021 Virginia governor’s race, and the House and Senate in 2022. Then he could run for president in 2024 and win. He seemed unmoved, even weary: ‘I don’t know, 2024 is so far off,’” Pence wrote in his book.
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Pence wrote about a “call” on Dec. 5, 2020, when Trump “mentioned challenging the election results in Congress” for the first time and said that by mid-December the internet had fueled a narrative that a sitting vice president had the authority to rebuff the election results. Pence pointed to one particular ad released by The Lincoln Project he said influenced Trump’s thinking.
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“An irresponsible TV ad by a group calling itself the Lincoln Project suggested that when I presided over the Jan. 6 joint session of Congress to count the electoral votes, it would prove that I knew ‘it’s over,’ and that by doing my constitutional duty, I would be ‘putting the final nail in the coffin’ of the president’s re-election,” Pence wrote.
He continued, “To my knowledge, it was the first time anyone implied I might be able to change the outcome. It was designed to annoy the president. It worked. During a December cabinet meeting, President Trump told me the ad ‘looked bad for you.’ I replied that it wasn’t true: I had fully supported the legal challenges to the election and would continue to do so.”
The ad, released on Dec. 8, 2020, titled “Pence,” taunted Trump with a direct message intending to form a wedge between the president and his running mate.
“The end is coming, Donald. Even Mike Pence knows,” a narrator told the president in the ad. “He’s backing away from your train wreck, from your desperate lies and clown lawyers. When Mike Pence is running away from you, you know it’s over, trying to save his reputation protect his future.”
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“Oh, there’s one last thing Donald. On January 6, Mike Pence will put the nail in your political coffin when he presides over the Senate vote to prove Joe Biden won. It’s over. And Mike Pence knows it,” the narrator added.
While The Lincoln Project was apparently effective in getting into Trump’s head, a study found that the anti-Trump PAC had little to no impact on voters.
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The study conducted by the Democratic Super PAC Priorities USA, which looked into the effectiveness of the Lincoln Project’s ads, found the various ads that went viral did not persuade voters in battleground states but rather motivated “predisposed Biden voters.”