Mike Pence Brands Critical Race Theory 'State-Sanctioned Racism'

Former Vice President Mike Pence has called for the elimination of critical race theory during a speech in which he outlined his vision for the future of the Republican Party.

Pence said on Thursday that the GOP "must stop the efforts to rewrite American history through initiatives like the 1619 Project," referring to the New York Times project aimed at examining the legacy of slavery in the U.S.

"The Republican Party in the years ahead must work to make school choice the right of every American family," Pence told the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.

He said that the GOP must look to "restore the classics to education in our schools," adding that "we must eliminate critical race theory at every level," referring to the theory which examines how race and racism intersect with politics, culture and law.

"Critical race theory teaches children as young as kindergarten to be ashamed of their skin color. It represents a full-throated assault aimed at the heart of the American experiment," Pence said.

Former Vice President Mike Pence
Former Vice President Mike Pence addresses the GOP Lincoln-Reagan Dinner on June 3, 2021 in Manchester, New Hampshire. On June 24, 2021, he described critical race theory as "state-sanctioned racism." Scott Eisen/Getty

"It is nothing short of state-sponsored and state-sanctioned racism. Our party must ensure that critical race theory is expelled from our schools, our military, and our public institutions," he said to applause from the audience.

Pence has become the latest GOP voice in condemning critical race theory, which is gaining momentum within the party as a hot button culture war issue.

Earlier in June, Pence had promoted speculation about a 2024 presidential run during a speech in New Hampshire in which he took aim at the theory, and said that "America is not a racist nation."

Also this month, Texas Senator Ted Cruz said critical race theory is "every bit as racist" as the Ku Klux Klan.

An Economist/YouGov poll in June showed that a majority of Americans (58 percent) had an unfavorable view of critical race theory, which opponents say sows divisions between ethnic groups. Some 38 percent of respondents viewed critical race theory favorably.

Pence also used his speech on Thursday to defend himself for certifying the Electoral College vote on January 6, the day when loyalists of ex-President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol.

In a comment that was seen as his strongest attempt yet to distance himself from Trump, Pence said there is "almost no idea more un-American than the notion that any one person could choose the American president."

Newsweek has contacted Pence's office for further comment.