Can Mike Pence Make Fusionism Cool Again?

Former Vice President Mike Pence speaks at the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition Spring Kick-Off on April 22, 2023, in Clive, Iowa. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Happy Wednesday! If you’ve always wanted to buy official campaign merchandise of Joe Biden shooting laser beams out of his eyes, have we got good news for you.

Up to Speed

  • It’s official: President Joe Biden is running for reelection. In a video posted to Biden’s campaign accounts Tuesday, the president cast the 2024 election as the second round of a battle to protect America’s “bedrock freedoms” from “MAGA extremists.” “Let’s finish this job—I know we can,” Biden said in the video. “Because this is the United States of America, and there’s nothing, simply nothing, we cannot do if we do it together.” On Wednesday, the Biden campaign unveiled its first television advertisement, a largely positive, glossy spot wrapped in the American flag—aptly titled, “Flag,”—running in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
  • If elected, does Biden intend to serve a full second four-year term? “I’m just not going to get ahead of the president,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Tuesday. “That’s something for him to decide.” Jean-Pierre later tweeted that her noncommittal answer had been an attempt not to engage in campaign communications from her official White House perch; if reelected, she added, Biden “would serve all 8 years.”
  • The 2024 endorsements keep rolling in for former President Donald Trump, who on Tuesday locked up a notable Senate Republican: Montana Sen. Steve Daines, who chairs the important National Republican Senatorial Committee. Many Republican strategists believe that Trump’s heavy participation in Senate primaries last year led to the nomination of a weak slate of candidates that helped Democrats maintain control of the Senate in the midterm elections.
  • Meanwhile, the Trump campaign is up on TV nationwide with its first ad of the 2024 cycle—one that takes direct aim at Trump’s prospective opponent Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. The ad argues that Trump’s endorsement saved DeSantis’s career during his first run for governor in 2018, showing clips of old ads in which DeSantis read Trump lawn signs and portions of The Art of the Deal to his young children. “Isn’t it time DeSantis remembers how he got to where he is?” the narrator intones. “Truth is, there’s only one person who can make America great again.”
  • Monday was a momentous day for high-profile cable news turnover: Tucker Carlson of Fox News and Don Lemon of CNN were both released by their respective networks within the span of a few hours. Carlson’s firing comes shortly after Fox agreed to pay $787.5 million to Dominion Voting Systems over false claims made on the network in the wake of the 2020 election, but some reports suggest Carlson’s ouster had more to do with a lawsuit from a former Fox producer, Abby Grossberg, who accused Carlson and his team of fostering a hostile work environment.* Lemon, meanwhile, had struggled through a number of faux pas after moving from prime time to CNN’s morning lineup, including a recent incident where he was temporarily suspended after arguing on air the that Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley was “past her prime.”
  • Truckloads of cash from entrepreneur Peter Thiel helped shape the slate of GOP candidates in last year’s midterm elections, but the right-wing billionaire is reportedly stepping away from politics this cycle. 

Mike Pence’s 2024 Bet: There’s Life in Fusionism Yet

Here’s the conventional wisdom on the right these days: The Trump era showed that the old conservative policy program—fusionism to its old friends, “Zombie Reaganism” to its recent enemies—is an electoral dead end. But as he mulls a run for president, former Vice President Mike Pence is arguing that rumors of fusionism’s death may be exaggerated—even among the MAGA base that supposedly deposed it.

“All I can tell you is, I spoke at more Trump rallies than I can remember—generally just before the headliner,” Pence told the Dispatch Podcast in an extensive interview this week. “And I talked about a strong national defense, about American leadership in the world, about standing with our allies, standing up to enemies. I talked about less taxes, less regulation, American growth, fiscal responsibility. I talked about conservatives on our courts, traditional values. And look, I may not be the most scintillating speaker in the world, but the roof blew off every time I talked about these things.”

“This is a movement,” Pence said, “that I believe in my heart of hearts is still animated by the same things.”

Join to continue reading
Get started with a free account or join as a member for unlimited access to all of The Dispatch. Continue ALREADY HAVE AN ACCOUNT? SIGN IN