WASHINGTON — Former Vice President Mike Pence said Friday that he will make a decision “by the spring” about whether to seek the presidency and suggested that he would pledge to support the eventual GOP nominee if that’s a condition of participating in primary debates.
“If I’m a candidate, I’m sure I’ll meet whatever the requirement is for debates,” Pence told NBC News in an exclusive interview.
As for his timing, Pence said he has a little while before he has to make a decision. “We’re listening, we’re reflecting, we’re talking to firms,” Pence said, adding that “by the spring, our family expects to have a very clear sense of our calling.”
His timing could be complicated by special counsel Jack Smith's investigation into former President Donald Trump. Smith is asking a federal judge to compel Pence to testify before a grand jury about Trump's Jan. 6, 2021, effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
"I'll let the process play out, and we'll work with our counsel to make sure that we do as we've always done, and that is adhere to the Constitution," said Pence, who contends that Smith's subpoena of him is unconstitutional. Only the courts can rule on constitutionality.
Though Pence may find himself running against Trump and others for the Republican presidential nomination, he declined to specify areas of policy disagreement between the two men. Instead, he focused on personal traits.
"I think the times call for different leadership," Pence said. "I'm confident that we'll have better choices than my old running mate come 2024."
Pence said he often hears that voters want to "get back to the policies of the Trump-Pence administration."
But, he added in a clear swat at Trump, "the next thing I hear ... is they want to see us and our politics return to the kind of civility and respect that Americans show one another every day."