House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has said former Vice President Mike Pence is not a traitor and defended him after some hecklers accused Pence of treason during a speech on Friday.
McCarthy, a Republican who represents California’s 23rd congressional district, told Fox News following Pence’s speech that the former vice president had “stood right by” former President Donald Trump.
Pence was met with some shouts of “traitor” on Friday during his speech at the Road to Majority Policy Conference in Orlando, Florida. The event was hosted by the Faith and Freedom Coalition.
McCarthy spoke to Fox News’s Brian Kilmeade and was asked about the heckling incident.
“Is Mike Pence a traitor?” Kilmeade asked.
“Mike Pence is not a traitor,” McCarthy said.
“Mike Pence served as not only as a member of Congress which I served with him, one of the most conservative members,” he said.
“He was the governor of Indiana. And he was the vice president, stood right by President Trump, helped him get through the tax reform, get those judges in,” McCarthy said.
Former President Trump successfully nominated three justices to the Supreme Court as well as appointing a large number of other judges to the nation’s lower courts.
However, Pence has faced strong criticism from some of Trump’s supporters for his actions on January 6. In his capacity as vice president, Pence presided over the final ratification of the Electoral College results of the 2020 presidential election.
Trump called on Pence to do “the right thing” and overturn the results of the election which President Joe Biden won. However, Pence did not have the power to do so and didn’t try to. He was rushed to safety as the deadly Capitol riot unfolded but later returned to fulfill his largely ceremonial role and certify the election.
Hecklers at the Road to Majority Policy Conference were likely referring to Pence’s inaction on overturning the election when they shouted “traitor” on Friday.
“It is great to be back with so many patriots dedicated to faith and freedom and the road to the majority,” Pence said before the heckling began.
“I’m a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican, in that order,” he went on as the disruption of his speech grew louder. Some hecklers were reportedly removed from the venue.
Pence has recently made a return to public appearances in what some view as a possible opening salvo to a presidential bid in 2024. However, the former vice president may be facing an uphill battle as Trump has teased another presidential run.
Newsweek has asked Representative Kevin McCarthy and Mike Pence’s office for comment.