Former VP Pence to announce White House bid next week: media
Former Vice President Mike Pence talks with local residents during a meet and greet, Tuesday, May 23, 2023, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

WASHINGTON, United States (AFP)— 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, CNN 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 nomination.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, 44, jumped into the contest last week and another high-profile Republican, former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, is expected to join the race next week.

Nikki Haley, a former governor of South Carolina and Trump's first ambassador to the United Nations, is also seeking the Republican nomination, along with South Carolina Senator Tim Scott.

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.

After years of unwavering loyalty to Trump, Pence was shocked into a change of tack when a mob of Trump supporters threatened his life as they ransacked Congress on January 6, 2021.

Pence, an evangelical Christian and staunch 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.

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