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Mike Pence Mounts Motorcycle as GOP’s 2024 Hopefuls Strut Their Stuff at Iowa Biker Event

© AP Photo / Charlie NeibergallFormer Vice President Mike Pence speaks during U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst's Roast and Ride, Saturday, June 3, 2023, in Des Moines, Iowa.
Former Vice President Mike Pence speaks during U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst's Roast and Ride, Saturday, June 3, 2023, in Des Moines, Iowa.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 04.06.2023
Virtually every Republican who’s declared their candidacy for the 2024 presidential elections was present in Iowa on Saturday. The only one missing was the man who is the most likely candidate to win the primary.
Long-shot Republican presidential contenders descended on the Iowa state fairgrounds Saturday to kick off the primary season with a full day of barbecue and biking in the battleground state.
Eight GOP hopefuls were in attendance at Iowa Senator Joni Ernst's annual "Roast and Ride," including former Vice President Mike Pence, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, and former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley.
Also along for the ride were Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, Michigan businessman Perry Johnson, author Vivek Ramaswamy and right-wing talk radio host Larry Elder.

Notably absent was former President Donald Trump, who has thus far been avoiding legitimizing his would-be rivals by refraining from sharing a stage with them in his own 2024 campaign.

With the exception of Pence, all the Republican figures present had already declared their candidacy.
"I don’t have anything to announce today," said the former VP, wearing an eye-catching motorcycle-themed outfit that featured a leather jacket covered in patches. But "I’ll be back a little later next week," Pence hinted.
Throughout the event, Pence made repeated references to his forthcoming candidacy, but refused to confirm he’s running for the oval office.
"One of the reporters just asked me if we’re showing up more in Iowa, what our lane would be. I said I'm more worried about the lane we’re going to be staying in today," he joked.

Even if Pence does announce, in terms of poll numbers, he’s expected to remain well behind both Trump and his closest runner-up, Ron DeSantis, who officially kicked off his campaign just over a week ago.

Republican candidates have been hesitant to go after Trump by name so far this election cycle, but on Saturday, both Pence and DeSantis tried to get in a jab following the former president’s message of congratulations to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un following Pyongyang’s accession to a World Health Organization executive board.
"Nobody should be praising the dictator in North Korea or praising the leader of Russia, who has launched an unprovoked war of aggression in Ukraine," Pence insisted in remarks to reporters. And DeSantis wasn’t far behind – the Florida governor said he was "surprised" to see Trump congratulate a man he called "a murderous dictator."
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