Mike Pence, the ex-Indiana governor who spent four years as then-president Donald Trump’s loyal vice President until he became persona non grata in MAGA circles for certifying their defeat in the 2020 election, has officially declared himself a candidate for the GOP nomination in next year’s Republican presidential primary.

Mr Pence on Monday filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to register his candidacy for the 2024 presidential election, capping months of speculation over whether Mr Trump’s former right-hand man would challenge his old running mate, who is seeking to reclaim his former place at the head of the executive branch amid multiple criminal probes into his conduct.

The former vice president has for months hinted that he would put himself forward in a bid to lead his party as he and his fellow Republicans look to recover from a string of losses and disappointing results in the three general elections that have taken place since he and Mr Trump won a shocking victory over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential race.

Yet despite his former stature in the GOP, Mr Pence will face an uphill climb as he looks to convince voters that he — not Mr Trump — is the best choice to take on President Joe Biden next November.

The ex-vice president’s standing among the Republican faithful took a significant hit on 6 January 2021, the day he was forced to take refuge in an underground parking area beneath the Capitol as a riotous mob of Trump-Pence supporters rampaged through the House and Senate wings of the building in hopes of stopping him from presiding over certification of his and Mr Trump’s loss to Mr Biden and then-senator Kamala Harris.

Mr Trump, who is under criminal investigation for his part in inciting the riot, has maintained that his former vice president had the power to unilaterally reject electoral votes from swing states won by Mr Biden and Ms Harris.

Mr Pence, who along with nearly all reputable legal scholars has rejected that view, pushed for certification to resume that day after police and National Guard troops secured the building and cleared it of the insurrectionist mob.

While he has steadfastly declined to criticise the twice-impeached ex-president over the matter other than to describe it as a disagreement and say his former boss was “wrong” that day, he has said GOP voters will have “better choices” than Mr Trump this time.

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