Pence super PAC launches Iowa ad attacking Trump as an ‘apologist for thugs and dictators’

July 11, 2023

A super PAC aligned with former Vice President Mike Pence has launched a new ad in Iowa accusing former President Donald Trump of “being an apologist for thugs and dictators,” reports the Des Moines Register.

The ad, launched on Thursday, July 6, by Committed to America, a group backing Pence, features clips of Trump shaking hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

“America doesn’t stand with thugs and dictators. We confront them,” a narrator says in the ad as the footage of Trump plays. “Or at least we used to.”

SuppCommitted to America is spending $150,000 to run the ad statewide in Iowa on Fox News and digital platforms for ten days, Communications Strategist Michael Ricci said in an email.

Asked about the ad by reporters on Thursday evening, Pence said “I never had any illusions about Vladimir Putin.” He pointed to the 2016 vice presidential debate, when he called Putin a “small and bullying leader.”

“The president had his own approach to dealing with some of these dictators around the world, and I’ll leave him to defend that,” Pence said.

Trump has faced criticism for calling Putin’s invasion of Ukraine “genius” and “pretty savvy.”

Pence went on to praise the Trump-Pence administration’s record on military matters—arguing he’d take on authoritarian leaders as president.

“If I have the privilege of being president of the United States I’m going to continue to take the same tough stand on the likes of Putin and Xi and others,” Pence said. “But it all begins with renewing American strength and making sure we have a military fitted to the times and that the world knows that we’ll defend our people and that we’ll defend our interests around the world.”

Pence has separated himself from Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in the 2024 presidential race by pledging to support Ukraine’s military in the war against Russia. Last week, he visited Ukraine and met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

DeSantis has said supporting Ukraine is not vital to U.S. interests.

“While I have a difference with the former president, and frankly with other candidates in this field, I think it’s absolutely essential as leader of the free world that we continue to give the Ukrainian military the support they need to repel the Russian invasion,” Pence said. “If Vladimir Putin were able to overrun Ukraine, I have no doubt that someday soon he would cross a NATO border that we would be required to send our armed forces into harm’s way to defend.”

He added that he believes “China’s watching all of this very closely.”

Pence trails both Trump DeSantis in polling of the 2024 Republican presidential primary race.

Pence wrapped up a three-day campaign swing through western Iowa on Thursday, where he marched in a 4th of July parade in Urbandale and took questions from Iowans in Boone, Sioux Center, Le Mars, Sioux City, Holstein, and Neola.

Trump is set to hold a rally in Council Bluffs on Friday.

Research contact: @DesMoinesRegister