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Mike Pence said there's no room for Putin 'apologists' in the Republican Party as he criticized Russia's 'unconscionable war' in Ukraine: AP

Mike Pence
Former Vice President Mike Pence speak to students at Georgetown University in Washington, on October 19, 2022Jose Luis Magana/AP
  • Mike Pence spoke out against Putin "apologists" and the growing populism in the GOP on Wednesday.

  • He said the GOP should remain committed to the US role as "leader of the free world," AP reported.

  • Several Republicans have either supported Putin or dismissed the war he's waged against Ukraine.

Former Vice President Mike Pence warned Republicans on Wednesday about a growing movement of "unprincipled populism" in the GOP and conservative "apologists" to Putin who have defended Russian President Vladimir Putin or dismissed the war he's waged against Ukraine.

During a speech at the Heritage Foundation, a Washington DC-based conservative think tank, Pence spoke on the current state of the Republican Party as it enters "a new era," appearing to make a reference to the party's transformation, largely led by Donald Trump, The Associated Press reported.

"Our movement cannot forsake the foundational commitment that we have to security, to limited government, to liberty, and to life. But nor can we allow our movement to be led astray by the siren song of unprincipled populism that's unmoored from our oldest traditions and most cherished values," he said, according to The AP. "Let me say: This movement and the party that it animates must remain the movement of a strong national defense, limited government, and traditional moral values and life."

Pence also criticized the group of Republicans who have defended Russia's war in Ukraine or dismissed it by arguing the US should stay out of foreign affairs.

"As Russia continues its unconscionable war of aggression to Ukraine, I believe that conservatives must make it clear that Putin must stop and Putin will pay," he added. "There can be no room in the conservative movement for apologists to Putin. There is only room in this movement for champions of freedom."

Though Pence did not name specific Republicans, several members of the GOP, including Trump, have at least once expressed hesitance over US involvement in Ukraine or complimented Putin for his approach in Ukraine.

"So, Putin is now saying, 'It's independent,' a large section of Ukraine. I said, 'How smart is that?' And he's gonna go in and be a peacekeeper. That's (the) strongest peace force," Trump told The Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show, a conservative podcast, just days before Russia invaded Ukraine.

Earlier this week, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told Punchbowl News that lawmakers may not sign off on more aid to Ukraine if Republicans take back the House in the upcoming midterm elections.

Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar also said in May that the US should focus on domestic affairs and that the war is not "Putin's fault."

"Ukraine is not our ally. Russia is not our enemy," Gosar said in a tweet. "We need to address our crippling debt, inflation and immigration problems. None of this is Putin's fault."

Pence went against the isolationist stance of some of the Republicans and instead urged continued support for Ukraine.

"We must continue to provide Ukraine with the resources to defend themselves," Pence said. "We must continue to bring economic pressure of the most powerful economy in the world on Russia. And we must continue to provide the generosity, compassion, and prayers of the American people until Russia relents and until peace is restored."

Pence, who has distanced himself from Trump since the January 6, 2021, riot, is widely viewed as a potential 2024 presidential candidate.

Read the original article on Business Insider