Former Vice President Mike Pence files to run for president in 2024

Former Vice President Mike Pence has officially joined the growing field of candidates vying to be the Republican 2024 presidential nominee after filing paperwork Monday with the Federal Election Commission.

Pence is expected to publicly launch his campaign with a Wednesday rally in Des Moines, Iowa. He is also expected to hold additional events in the state following his campaign announcement, including a CNN town hall at Grand View University.

The former vice president has been widely expected to launch a run for the GOP nomination. He has been laying the groundwork for a presidential campaign, making regular visits to Iowa and New Hampshire – both key early-voting states.

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Pence's entry into the GOP primary prompted immediate criticism from some Democratic leaders. Jaime Harrison, Democratic National Committee Chair, said in a statement that "Pence’s entrance will no doubt drag an increasingly MAGA 2024 GOP field even further to the extremes."

“In Mike Pence’s own words, he was a member of the extreme Tea Party ‘before it was cool,’ and he hasn’t slowed down since," Harrison said. "Now, he's promising to take the Trump-Pence agenda even further, leading the charge for a national abortion ban, cutting Medicare, and ending Social Security as we know it."

Pence has aimed to distinguish himself from some of his major Republican rivals, including former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, on issues such as support for Ukraine. Both Trump and DeSantis have suggested that opposing Russia’s war in Ukraine is not “vital” to American interests.

Pence has sharpened his criticism of Trump in recent months, targeting the former president’s role in the insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

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"President Trump was wrong,” Pence said in a March speech at the annual Gridiron dinner, a gathering of senior Washington journalists and dignitaries. "I had no right to overturn the election. And his reckless words endangered my family and everyone at the Capitol that day. And I know that history will hold Donald Trump accountable.”

Trump hit back at Pence’s comments, suggesting that Pence was responsible for the violence on Jan. 6 because Pence refused Trump’s demand to push to overturn the 2020 election results.

"In many ways, you can blame him for Jan. 6,” Trump told reporters Monday aboard his private plane en route to a campaign event in Iowa, according to The Washington Post.

Contributing: David Jackson of USA TODAY and Brianne Pfannenstiel and Stephen Gruber-Miller of the Des Moines Register.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Pence files presidential campaign bid, joining crowded GOP field