LONDONDERRY, N.H. — The events of Jan. 6 took center stage Friday at Mike Pence’s first campaign event after his former running mate pleaded not guilty to charges that he engaged in criminal conspiracies aimed at overturning the 2020 presidential election.
As soon as the former vice president arrived at the American Legion Hall in Londonderry, New Hampshire, he encountered about 10 pro-Trump protesters carrying flags and signs.
“There’s the sellout! There’s the traitor!” they yelled at Pence as he exited his vehicle. “Why’d you sell out the people?”
There was no violence, and Pence did not engage significantly with the supporters of his rival for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, beyond saying, "I upheld the Constitution" and urging the protesters to read the document.
At the town hall, Pence tried to court the protesters.
“I know the people in this movement, whether they support me or not, are the best people in this country,” he said as he pointed to the protesters in the corner of the room.
In response to a question about the potential for further violence from Trump supporters in the wake of Jan. 6, Pence said he rejected that notion “categorically.”
“I’ll tell you there is a lot of passion out there, but I just, I reject your suggestion that that passion is translated into the violence and vandalism of that day,” he said.
Pence's role on Jan. 6, when some rioters chanted "Hang Mike Pence," has been thrust back into the spotlight following Tuesday's indictment of former President Donald Trump. In that document, federal prosecutors said Pence kept “contemporaneous notes” about meetings and conversations he had with Trump leading up to Jan 6.
The indictment also said that the president and a co-conspirator now known to be lawyer John Eastman asked Pence to use his authority as president of the Senate on Jan. 6 to either reject certain states’ electors or send them back to their state legislatures.
On Friday night, one town hall participant, Mary Bartel of Windham, asked Pence why he didn't go along with that plan. Pence explained, as he has previously to other skeptical voters, that he did not have the authority to overturn the election.
He also told her to write down and look up “Article Two, Section One, Clause Three” of the Constitution.
“I will,” she said.