WASHINGTON, United States - Former vice president Mike Pence plans to announce his 2024 White House candidacy next week, challenging Donald Trump for the Republican nomination, US media reported on Wednesday.
The 63-year-old Pence will launch his presidential campaign on June 7 with a speech in Iowa, the midwestern state that traditionally kicks off the primary season, NBC News and other outlets said.
The 76-year-old Trump announced in November that he was making a third bid for the White House and is the clear frontrunner in an increasingly crowded field seeking the Republican presidential nomination.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, 44, jumped into the contest last week and another high-profile Republican, former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, 60, is expected to join the race next week.
Nikki Haley, 51, a former governor of South Carolina and Trump's first ambassador to the United Nations, is also seeking to become the Republican standard-bearer, along with South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, who is vying to become the first Black Republican presidential nominee.
DeSantis, long viewed as the most formidable challenger to twice-impeached Trump, has distanced himself from his erstwhile mentor while doubling down on Trump's populist "America First" agenda.
Christie was a former close associate of Trump but has been sharply critical of the former president over the January 2021 assault on the US Capitol and his refusal to concede the 2020 election to Democrat Joe Biden.
The 80-year-old Biden announced in April that he would seek reelection and is expected to be the Democratic nominee in 2024.
Pence, an evangelical Christian and ardent opponent of abortion, has been crisscrossing the country in recent months, speaking in many of the states seen as the most consequential in the Republican nomination race.
After years of unwavering loyalty, the former vice president has been at loggerheads with Trump since refusing to go along with his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results and remain in power.
In remarks at the annual Gridiron Dinner in Washington in March, Pence, a staunch conservative from Indiana, said that history would hold Trump "accountable" for his role in the Capitol riot.
- 'Trump was wrong' -
"President Trump was wrong," Pence said. "I had no right to overturn the election. And his reckless words endangered my family and everyone at the Capitol that day."
In April, Pence testified in the federal investigation examining Trump's role in the assault on the Capitol, one of a number of legal cases facing the former president.
In March, Trump became the first US president indicted on criminal charges, in a case involving making hush money payments to a porn star, and a special counsel is currently investigating a cache of classified documents stashed at Trump's Mar-a-Lago home.
Trump is also under investigation in Georgia for election interference, and a New York jury found him liable in May of sexually abusing a prominent journalist three decades ago and defaming her.
Despite his myriad legal troubles, Trump enjoys a solid lead in early polls for the Republican nomination and a crowded field could potentially benefit his candidacy in the presidential primaries.
DeSantis, the Florida governor, is currently the only other Republican candidate with double-digit support in the early polls.