Former Vice President Mike Pence is the latest Republican heavyweight to divorce himself from Ron DeSantis‘ foreign policy vision.
During an appearance on SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Saturday, Pence rejected DeSantis’ framing of the Russian war with Ukraine as a mere “territorial dispute,” opting to frame it as a “Russian invasion.”
“Let me be clear. What’s going on in Ukraine today is not a territorial dispute. It’s a Russian invasion. Russia attempted to redraw international lines by force under the Bush administration in Georgia, under the Obama administration in Crimea. And now the Russian tanks rolled in to invade and overrun a free and democratic nation in Ukraine. And this is a moment where America needs to step up and continue to step up and be the leader of the free world,” Pence said.
The former Vice President then suggested the DeSantis view was out of step with historic Republican orthodoxy.
“Look, Ronald Reagan said in 1985 words in his State of the Union address that were later called the Reagan Doctrine. It was this idea that if you’re willing to fight the communists in your country, with your soldiers, we’ll give you the means to fight them there so we don’t have to fight them here. And that was part of the philosophy of American leadership in the world that set into motion the forces that brought the collapse of the Soviet Union map. And I think this is just the same fight,” Pence said.
Pence continued on his Reaganesque theme, with soaring language reminiscent of the Cold War era.
“This is a moment where the arsenal of democracy needs to be standing with those freedom fighters in Ukraine, giving them the resources that they need to repel the Russian invasion. Now, the Biden administration has been slow. I mean, President Biden said in his State of the Union address that we’re there as long as it takes. But I want to say to all your listeners, it shouldn’t take that long.”
DeSantis contended Monday that “while the U.S. has many vital national interests … becoming further entangled in a territorial dispute between Ukraine and Russia is not one of them.” And since then, he has drawn fire from many other Republicans, including home state Sen. Marco Rubio.
During a Tuesday interview on The Hugh Hewitt Show, Rubio said he didn’t understand DeSantis’ political calculus in the statement DeSantis offered to Fox News host Tucker Carlson.
“I don’t know what he’s trying to do or what the goal is. Obviously, he doesn’t deal with foreign policy every day as Governor. So I’m not sure. I can’t speak to that. I can’t compare that to something else he did or said over the last few years because he doesn’t deal with it every day,” Rubio said.
“It’s not a territorial dispute … any more than it would be a territorial dispute if the United States decided that it wants to take over Canada or take over the Bahamas. Just because someone claims something doesn’t mean it belongs to them.”
Other potential rivals in the chase for the Republican Presidential nomination have pilloried DeSantis also.
During an interview on the Fox News Channel, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu firmly rejected Gov. DeSantis’ claim that the war in Ukraine is a “territorial dispute” with limited national interest for the U.S.
“Well, this is not a territorial dispute by any means. This is one nation invading a sovereign nation, and everybody needs to understand it is in our very direct national security interest to make sure that Ukraine wins that war in Russia,” Sununu told host Bill Hemmer.
Former United Nations envoy Nikki Haley took a different tack. She said Tuesday that DeSantis was ripping off his recalibrated position from Donald Trump.
“President Trump is right when he says Gov. DeSantis is copying him — first in his style, then on entitlement reform and now on Ukraine. I have a different style than President Trump, and while I agree with him on most policies, I do not on those. Republicans deserve a choice, not an echo.”
In that instance, Haley agreed with Trump, who asserted DeSantis was “following what I am saying. It is a flip-flop. He was totally different. Whatever I want, he wants.”
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