Foreign policy has emerged as the main ideological fissure
within the Republican Party as the 2024 nominating contest heats
While former President Donald Trump and Florida Governor Ron
DeSantis have called for dedicating resources to domestic issues
rather than Ukraine, several other declared and likely
presidential candidates have portrayed themselves as unwavering
defenders of the eastern European county.
Both Pence and Sununu have defended Ukraine before, but their
Saturday comments were particularly pointed and come as the
Republican foreign policy feud intensifies.
This week, DeSantis said in a statement provided to conservative
radio host Tucker Carlson that the Ukraine War was a
"territorial dispute," which was not a vital national interest
to the U.S.
DeSantis has not declared a presidential run but he is widely
expected to do so, and he is by far Trump's most formidable
Speaking in Iowa, Pence, who is also expected to run, took a jab
at the Florida governor.
"I must tell you the war in Ukraine is not a territorial
dispute. It is a Russian invasion," he told a group of
Republicans near Des Moines.
"I truly do believe that this is a moment of testing for the
free world to ensure peace in eastern Europe."
Pence did not criticize Trump, even as the former president
opposes dedicating more resources to Ukraine and once called
Russian President Vladimir Putin a "genius" for invading the
In a Washington Post opinion column, Sununu, the New Hampshire
governor, went after Trump and DeSantis directly.
"Some in the Republican Party have lost their moral compass on
foreign policy, as evidenced by former president Donald Trump,
who once called Putin's invasion 'genius' and 'savvy,'" Sununu
Pence is running well behind Trump and DeSantis, vying for a
distant third with former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley,
another Ukraine supporter.
Sununu, a relative moderate who is also considering a run, is
polling in the low single digits.
(Reporting by Gram Slattery; Editing by Josie Kao)
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