Pence’s 2024 Bid Confronts Murky Future, as Campaign Cash Dwindles

At a town hall-style event hosted by the right-wing broadcaster Newsmax on Tuesday, Mike Pence was asked questions about Israel, Ukraine and the disarray among House Republicans — all of which he answered in familiar ways.

But he was not asked about the one subject that may now matter more than any of his policy views: his campaign’s perilous financial state.

A campaign finance report that Mr. Pence filed over the weekend painted a dire picture. The former vice president had just $1.2 million in his campaign account, a skimpier reserve than any of the six Republican rivals he shared a debate stage with last month.

Mr. Pence has struggled to achieve the goal he announced when he rolled out his campaign in June — to “reintroduce” himself to voters as his own man, allowing him to step out from the shadow of Donald J. Trump. He has defined himself as a Reagan-era conservative in a party that has largely turned its back on that era: He argues for aid to Ukraine to voters who are isolationist, exudes civility when the base hungers for confrontation and defends his actions on Jan. 6, 2021, while a majority of Republicans falsely believe or suspect that the 2020 election was stolen.

Although Mr. Pence raised $3.3 million in the three months through September, he burned through nearly an equal amount in that period, and his campaign ran up a debt of $620,000.

A spokesman for Mr. Pence, Devin O’Malley, declined to comment about the campaign’s finances or whether Mr. Pence might suspend his campaign before the Iowa caucuses in three months.

Mr. Pence’s meager bank account could limit his ability to travel widely or to spend money on persuading voters. After paying $14,400 for digital ads in September, the Pence campaign has bought just $400 of digital ads in October, according to AdImpact, a media-tracking firm. His campaign said he would travel this week to fund-raising events in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Texas.

Mr. Pence may also struggle to make the third debate in Miami on Nov. 8, which requires 70,000 individual donors. His campaign would not say how close it was to that threshold.

Who Has Qualified for the Third G.O.P. Debate?

Just three candidates appear to have qualified so far for the third Republican debate on Nov. 8. Donald J. Trump is not likely to participate.

Throughout his race, Mr. Pence has relied on a super PAC funded by wealthy supporters, Committed to America, to organize voter outreach in Iowa and to pay for television ads. But there are signs of donor fatigue as Mr. Trump increasingly pulls away from the rest of the G.O.P. field and acquires an aura of inevitability. The Pence super PAC has sharply cut back advertising since the summer. In a memo to donors late last month, the group’s executive director, Bobby Saparow, struck an urgent note: “Every day is critical at this point. This race needs to be shaken up, and soon.”

Bill Bean, a real estate developer from Fort Wayne, Ind., who has contributed about $250,000 to groups supporting Mr. Pence, said he was “disappointed” in how the race has played out, but added that neither he nor his friend Mr. Pence were ready to give up. “Until he feels the American people send him the message they’re not interested, he’s going to stay out there doing what he needs to do,’’ Mr. Bean said.

Mr. Pence remains mired in fourth or fifth place in nonpartisan primary polls. He continues to be viewed unfavorably by a large number of Republican voters and has not been embraced even by evangelical Christians, whose support the campaign assumed would form his base. A poll of likely Iowa caucusgoers in August for The Des Moines Register and NBC News found that only 6 percent of evangelicals named him as their first choice.

And the former vice president has not overcome the contradiction at the core of his candidacy: For anti-Trump Republicans, he was subservient to Mr. Trump for far too long, and for Trump supporters willing to consider an alternative, he was not subservient enough on Jan. 6, when he balked at Mr. Trump’s demand that he nullify Joseph R. Biden’s election while overseeing the ceremonial count of Electoral College votes.

Mr. Pence is expected to be a major witness in Mr. Trump’s federal trial on charges of attempting to subvert the 2020 election. A partial gag order that Judge Tanya S. Chutkan issued bars Mr. Trump from criticizing Mr. Pence for his role in the case, though it allows him to attack the candidacy of his former No. 2.

At the Newsmax town hall on Tuesday in Iowa, Mr. Pence skipped the kind of muscular defense he has offered previously of why he defied Mr. Trump on Jan. 6. He gave a more general statement: “I know that by God’s grace I did my duty that day under the Constitution of the United States.”

When asked about Mr. Trump’s multiple criminal indictments, Mr. Pence said that the former president’s fate should be left up to voters.

“I know that he can defend himself in court, and I’m sure he’ll continue to — but look, ultimately I’d like to see these issues resolved by voters, by the American people,” he said.

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