Donald Trump and Mike Pence Rift Denied, Former Vice President Retains GOP Voter Support

Claims of a rift between Donald Trump and Mike Pence have been denied after the former vice president decided not to attend a conservative conference this week.

The Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida, will mark Trump's first major public appearance since he left office and several of his allies are among the scheduled speakers.

But Pence, who remains popular with Republican voters, will not be among them.

Responding to a report suggesting this was because Trump did not want Pence at the event, Jason Miller, an adviser to the former president, said that was "patently false." He added that the two men had had "a great call last week."

Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union, which runs the conference, posted on Twitter that he had spoken with Pence on Monday, who had recalled "warm stories" of Trump and said the pair had "been keeping in touch on the phone."

Schlapp added that the former vice president was "gracious about his support" of the event in a phone call, but had said "weeks ago he was unable to make it."

Trump and Pence clashed in January, with the then president pushing his No. 2 to reject the Electoral College votes that confirmed his defeat. Pence refused. On January 6, Trump lashed out at his vice president in tweets posted minutes after he was told Pence was being led out of the Senate chamber by security as violence erupted at the U.S Capitol.

The pair were said to have had a "good conversation" when they met a few days later, as both condemned the rioters.

Pence later thanked Trump for giving him the opportunity to serve as vice president in a farewell speech on January 20.

As Trump's camp moves to downplay talk of a split, polling has shown the former vice president remains in good standing among GOP voters.

In polling on who Republicans would back as their 2024 nominee, Pence has consistently been the second choice behind Trump.

A Morning Consult/Politico survey conducted on February 14 to 15 again reported that Pence was second favorite.

Republicans and independents were asked: "If the 2024 Republican primary were being held today, for whom would you vote?" More than half, 53 percent, said Trump. This was far ahead of the pack, with Pence the only other candidate to reach double figures with 12 percent.

Respondents were also asked if they had a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Pence. Overall, the figures were 38 percent favorable and 51 percent unfavorable. But among Republicans, 72 percent had a favorable view of the former vice president.

Eighty percent of Republicans said they had a favorable view of Trump. The former president's popularity with overall voters, however, was lower than Pence's: 34 percent of those surveyed had a favorable view of Trump and 63 percent unfavorable.

The polling was conducted among 1,984 registered voters and the results have a margin of error of 2 percentage points.

Trump has spoken of being open to a 2024 run, but has said it is too early to make firm comments.

"I won't say yet, but we have tremendous support," he said on Newsmax. "I'm looking at poll numbers that are going through the roof."

Newsweek has contacted the offices of former President Donald Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence for further comment.

donald trump and mike pence
Donald Trump speaks as Mike Pence looks on at the White House on November 24, 2020. A Trump adviser has downplayed suggestions of a rift between the pair. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images