The decision by Pence to campaign for one of Trump’s top GOP targets marks yet another break with his former boss after saying earlier this year that the former President was “wrong” in his belief that Pence could have overturned the results of the 2020 election. Pence will rally with Kemp on Monday, a day before the Republican primary, which has turned into a proxy fight between the establishment and Trump’s wings of the GOP.
“Brian Kemp is one of the most successful conservative governors in America,” Pence said in a statement released Friday. “Brian Kemp is my friend, a man dedicated to faith, family and the people of Georgia. I am proud to offer my full support for four more years of Brian Kemp as governor of the great state of Georgia!”
Kemp said in a statement Friday he and his family are “honored” to have Pence’s support and touted his leadership as vice president. Marc Short, Pence’s former chief of staff, is a senior adviser on Kemp’s campaign.
Trump has repeatedly criticized Kemp for his role in certifying Georgia’s 2020 election results and has claimed that Republicans would stay home in November if the governor is the party’s nominee. Perdue has centered his campaign on lies about the 2020 election results in Georgia and has called Kemp a “weak” leader.
Despite the attacks from Trump and Perdue, Kemp has maintained a lead in the polls. And while there is frustration among many Republicans over Kemp certifying the 2020 election in Georgia for President Joe Biden, some voters who back Perdue have said even if he loses the primary, they would still back the incumbent governor in the fall.
Pence is not the only high-profile Republican bolstering support for Kemp. Govs. Pete Ricketts of Nebraska and Doug Ducey of Arizona, plus New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie — all of whom have clashed with Trump — will also campaign for Kemp ahead of the Georgia primary, a source familiar with the plans previously told CNN. Ricketts and Ducey are co-chairs of the Republican Governors Association, which has poured money into the race to support Kemp, including a large TV ad buy in the state.
Pence, who in the past loyally aligned himself with Trump and his political movement, has increasingly taken on the former President in public, most notably on the 2020 election but also in regard to other matters, such as Trump’s praise for Russian President Vladimir Putin.