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Trump and Pence again face off in a proxy fight, backing rival GOP candidates in Wisconsin governor's race

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Rebecca Kleefisch is introduced at a televised Wisconsin Republican gubernatorial debate Sunday, July 24, 2022, in Milwaukee.Morry Gash/AP

  • Trump and Pence are facing off in another proxy fight in a competitive governor’s race.

  • The former president and VP are backing rival candidates in the Wisconsin GOP governor primary.

  • Pence has endorsed former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch while Trump is backing Tim Michels.

Former VP Mike Pence is again breaking with former President Donald Trump in the Wisconsin governor’s race, endorsing former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch over Trump’s pick in the primary.

Pence announced his support for Kleefisch, who served as lieutenant governor under Gov. Scott Walker, on Wednesday. Trump is backing businessman and construction executive Tim Michels for the GOP nomination to challenge Democratic Gov. Tony Evers.

“Rebecca Kleefisch is the only candidate that will deliver a stronger and more prosperous Wisconsin, and I am proud to support her,” Pence said in his endorsement. “Rebecca has a proven conservative track record and will draw on her experience to give parents more control of their children’s education, grow the economy and get Wisconsin back to work, fight for traditional conservative values, and make Wisconsin streets safer.”

Kleefisch has also been endorsed by other potential 2024 GOP presidential hopefuls including Sen. Ted Cruz, former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, and Gov. Kim Reynolds of Iowa.

The Wisconsin GOP gubernatorial primary on August 9 will be the third instance in the 2022 primaries where Trump and Pence have found themselves in a proxy fight over a swing state governor’s race. In all three cases, Trump’s lies that the 2020 election was stolen from him loomed large and heavily shaped the race.

Pence and Trump found themselves on the opposite sides of the Georgia governor’s race in May, where Trump-backed primary challenger David Perdue, largely running on Trump’s election grievances, lost handily to incumbent GOP Gov. Brian Kemp, who Pence endorsed and stumped for in the final days of the race. 

Trump and Pence are also facing off in a proxy war in Arizona’s GOP gubernatorial primary on August 2.

Pence and Trump gave dueling speeches on Tuesday outlining their respective visions for the GOP as both prepare for likely 2024 presidential campaigns. Trump’s nearly hour-and-a-half-long speech began with a grisly recounting of crime before veering into mockery of transgender people and his usual grievances about the 2020 election and his political enemies.

Pence, speaking at the Young Americans for Freedom conference in Tampa, gave his classic stump speech and touted the accomplishments of the Trump-Pence administration.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the record of the Trump-Pence administration,” Pence said in response to a question from a college student. “I don’t know that our movement is that divided. I don’t know that the president and I differ on issues, but we may differ in focus”

Read the original article on Business Insider