“There is no place for Putin’s apologists in this party. There is only room for freedom fighters,” Pence is expected to say.
Pence’s prepared statements come just days after former President Donald Trump called the Kremlin leader “brilliant” and “savvy” for launching a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, where civilian casualties continue to pile up despite global condemnation of Putin’s actions.
Speaking at a donor meeting hosted by the Republican National Committee in New Orleans, Pence is expected to urge the Biden administration to take stronger action against Russia, including sanctions on the country’s oil exports.
“Putin understands only force. As members of the party that won the Cold War, we must send a resounding message: Putin must stop or Putin must pay,” Pence said in an excerpt from the speech.
“We must demand that this administration immediately increase military spending, (arm) Ukraine with lethal weapons to counter Russian armor and aircraft, and President (Joe) Biden must impose sanctions on all Russian oil exports around the world,” is expected Pence says.
But Pence’s comments about Putin’s “apologists” within the Republican Party are likely to bewilder audiences. During his speech at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference over the weekend, Trump doubled down on compliments to the Russian president.
“Journalists asked me yesterday if I think President Putin is smart. I said, “Of course he’s smart,” Trump told the crowd in Orlando, Florida.
In yet another thinly veiled strike against Trump, who remains fixated on false allegations of fraud in the 2020 presidential election, Pence is expected to encourage Republicans to stop “rethinking the past.”
“We cannot win by fighting yesterday’s battles,” he is expected to say. “Forgetting what is behind, and striving for what is ahead, let us strive for the goal.”