Former Fox News host Tucker Carlson asked former Vice President Mike Pence multiple questions about how he would describe the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol breach.
Mr. Carlson, who departed Fox News in late April, opened his line of questioning of Mr. Pence at the Family Leadership Summit in Iowa by asking him if he believed the incident was an “insurrection,” a narrative that has been repeated often by legacy news outlets and Democrat officials.
“All I know for sure, having lived through it at the Capitol, is that it was a tragic day,” said Mr. Pence, who oversaw the Joint Sessions of Congress before protesters entered the Capitol building. “I’ve never used the word insurrection, Tucker, over the past two years, but it was a riot that took place at the Capitol that day.”
But Mr. Pence has said that he has no power under the U.S. Constitution to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Before the protests, the former vice president was quickly moved to safety.
“I just think it was a tragic moment, without question,” Mr. Pence told Mr. Carlson. “But I have to tell you that seeing people assaulting law enforcement officers, smashing windows, breaking into the Capitol building, it infuriated me. And it’s very likely that the restraint that was shown by law enforcement officers saved lives that day.”
When he launched his 2024 campaign for the Republican nomination, Mr. Pence said that he believes Mr. Trump’s statements on Jan. 6 should disqualify him from holding the office again. Since making his intentions publicly known, Mr. Pence has consistently polled under 10 percent and is currently hovering around 5 percent support in an average of polls from RealClearPolitics, behind Mr. Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
“I believe that it is in the interest of the United States of America to continue to give the Ukrainian military the resources that they need to repel the Russian invasion and restore their sovereignty,” he told the former Fox host, drawing what sounded like some booing from the audience at the Iowa conference.
Mr. Carlson then asserted: “Every city in the United States has become much worse in the last three years.”
“Our economy has degraded, the suicide rate has jumped, public filth and disorder and crime have exponentially increased, and yet, your concern is that the Ukrainians—a country most people can’t find on a map—who’ve received tens of billions of U.S. tax dollars, don’t have enough tanks,” Mr. Carlson added. “I think it’s a fair question to ask, like, where’s the concern for the United States in that?”
Mr. Pence’s immediate response was, “That’s not my concern,” which drew a viral response on social media. Elaborating, he said, “Anybody that says that we can’t be the leader of the free world and solve our problems at home has a pretty small view of the greatest nation on earth.”
“And as president of the United States, we will secure our border,” Mr. Pence said, “we will support our military, we will revive our economy and stand by our values. And we will also lead the world for freedom under my administration. I promise you.”
Other than Mr. Pence, Mr. Carlson also interviewed GOP presidential candidates Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson at the summit.
In his exchange with Mr. Hutchinson, Carlson asked him how many times he received the COVID-19 vaccine. Mr. Hutchinson then asked Mr. Carlson how many times he’s received it. Mr. Carlson said he hasn’t received it.
The Iowa caucus is slated for Jan. 15, 2024.