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Trump and Pence Give Dueling DC Speeches, Competing for the Future of the Republican Party

Trump and Pence

The split between two of the most powerful men in the world from the previous administration added a new chapter this week when Donald Trump and Mike Pence returned to Washington, D.C. to speak at separate events. 

Pence chose to stake his position in front of younger conservatives at the Young America's Foundation (YAF) conference. 

"I'm a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican in that order," said Pence, kicking off his speech to the crowd of mostly students. 

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The former vice president touted multiple Trump/Pence administration accomplishments but made a point of differentiation with his former boss by frequently mentioning the future and road ahead for his party rather than dwelling on the past. 

Pence barely touched on January 6th and a highly publicized split with Trump, although a student brought the subject front and center with a pointed question after the speech.

"I don't know that our movement is that divided. I don't know that the President and I differ on issues. But we may differ on focus. I truly believe that elections are about the future," replied Pence.

Later in the day and less than a mile away, the former president took his turn at the America First Policy Institute summit. 

Trump talked about how bleak America is while under a dark cloud of growing violence nationwide. 

"Our country is in a condition on crime that we've never seen before," said Trump to a ballroom full of supporters.

He went into familiar claims about the 2020 election while hinting at another run for the White House.

"If I renounced my beliefs, if I agreed to stay silent, if I stayed at home and just took it easy, the persecution of Donald Trump would stop immediately ... it would stop. But that's not what I will do, I can't do that. I have to save our country," he said. 

The clear divide between Trump and Pence and who should vie for the White House in 2024 is the so-called elephant in the room, although many Republicans aren't yet ready to commit to a candidate.

"I think it would be good to have a wide variety of different voices and really lay out what their plans are for the future, it's not enough to say this is what we've done in the past," said former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker who is now president of YAF.

The Heritage Foundation think tank agreed.

"There's always jockeying for leadership, thought leadership, that's what we're so encouraged by is to see office holders, some former office holders, with a positive agenda to address economic and cultural problems," said Heritage Executive Vice President Derrick Morgan. 

While the deciding factor could end up being one of the future versus the past, analysts believe it's still Trump's party.

"Voters, who Trump is their guy and they like him, Pence is essentially a traitor for January 6th and what he did or did not do on that day. I think it's difficult for Pence to get there," said Inside Elections Editor Nathan Gonzales. 

One thing the two men did seemingly agree on was the push for Republican control of Congress in November's midterm elections. Even though, both have endorsed different candidates in some races around the country.

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