Former Vice President Mike Pence said his “former running mate,” among others in the Republican Party presidential nomination chase, are missing the significance of the U.S. coming to the aid of Ukraine.
Pence said he recently paid a call on the war-torn European nation and its president to see firsthand “the results of the extraordinary, unprovoked invasion by Russia” as well as the “tenacity and toughness” of the Ukrainian military.
“There are some Republicans, including my former running mate and some other people vying for this contest, who are giving voice to the concerns of some in our party about the investment we’ve made there,” the GOP presidential candidate told The Iowa Star Thursday on “Need to Know with Jeff Angelo” on NewsTalk 1040-WHO in Des Moines.
Pence was wrapping up a multi-stop campaign swing through central and western Iowa Thursday, his latest trip to the first-in-the-nation caucus state.
“I have to tell you, as the son of a combat veteran, as the father of a United States Marine, I have no doubt that if [Russian President] Vladimir Putin overruns Ukraine, it’s not going to be too long before he crosses the border where we have to send our American men and women to fight. I think we are right to support them and see it through.”
But U.S. involvement in Ukraine has come with a hefty cost, in money and material. Congress has allocated more than $110 billion in military, government, and humanitarian aid since 2022, according to the Department of Defense Office of Inspector General.
Former President Donald Trump has noted the costs and the potential for wider-spread conflict with Russia in his criticisms of U.S. involvement in Ukraine. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who consistently runs a distant second to Trump in Republican presidential primary polls, has, like Trump, dismissed the war as a “territorial dispute.” He has walked back some of those comments but has called for a truce in the war.
‘It’s in everybody’s interest to try to get to a place where we can have a ceasefire,’ the Florida governor said in an interview in late April with Nikkei Asia, a Japanese, English-language weekly.
Ohio businessman and Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy has pushed a plan aimed at ending the war in Ukraine while breaking up Russia’s growing alliance with China.
Pence has been more hawkish on U.S. commitments to Ukraine, joining campaign rivals former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) in voicing support for greater assistance, shy of putting U.S. troops on the ground. He said President Joe Biden has failed to explain what’s at stake and America’s national interests in the war.
“It’s in our national interest to contain Russian aggression,” he told The Star. “It also sends a tremendously important message to China that is continuing its military provocations in the Asia Pacific.”
The issue is a growing focal point on the GOP campaign trail. A Pew Research Center survey in June found 44 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents think the U.S. is providing too much military assistance to Ukraine. Concerning, too, is that the people of Ukraine aren’t only fighting tyrannical Putin’s aggrandizement campaign, the European nation is under attack by sweeping corruption in its own government.
At the same time, Pence said Biden, whose disastrous withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan has dogged his two-plus years in office, has been slow to send the military support Ukraine is depending on to fight the Russian invasion.
“They [Ukraine] demonstrated in a year and a half that they can fight. They’re pushing the Russians back as we speak and facing overwhelming odds, but Joe Biden has got to stop dragging his feet. He’s got to start giving them what they need,” the former vice president said.
“That’s the American interest there, and I wanted to give voice to what I know is the right thing to do for America and the right thing to do for freedom in the world.”
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M.D. Kittle is the National Political Editor for The Star News Network.