Former vice president and soon-to-be 2024 presidential candidate Mike Pence made a rare jab at his erstwhile running mate Saturday, saying that “no one should be praising the dictator in North Korea” or Russian President Vladimir Putin.
While he did not name Donald Trump in his comments, the dig came just one day after the former president reupped an article about North Korea’s appointment to the World Health Organization’s board on social media, writing “Congratulations to Kim Jung Un!”
Trump also stressed in a recent town hall with Fox anchor Sean Hannity that he had a strong relationship with Putin, and has a history of praising authoritarian leaders.
“Whether it’s my former running mate or anyone else, no one should be praising the dictator in North Korea — or praising the leader of Russia, who has launched an unprovoked war of aggression in Ukraine,” Pence said in an interview with Fox News in Iowa. “This is a time when we ought to make it clear to the world that we stand for freedom and we stand with those who stand for freedom.”
During their joint time in office, Trump made unprecedented overtures to the North Korean leader, with the former president meeting Un three times during his four-year term, including in North Korea.
Pence’s comments are the latest sign that the ex-vice president will ramp up attacks against Trump to carve out his own space in advance of the Republican primaries. He is set to announce a bid for president June 7.
Trump’s former UN ambassador and 2024 candidate Nikki Haley also lashed out on Twitter over the post. “Kim Jong Un starves his own people,” she wrote.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, also in Iowa, said, “I was surprised to see that. … Kim Jong Un is a murderous dictator.” He then called the World Health Organization “a bankrupt organization.”
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