Pence, Sununu DeSantis of New Hampshire rebuked, aid for Ukraine

Pence, Sununu DeSantis of New Hampshire rebuked, aid for Ukraine

By Gram Slattery

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States should continue to support Ukraine, former Vice President Mike Pence and New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu said on Saturday, a position that puts them at odds with the two top contenders for the Republican presidential nomination.

Foreign policy has emerged as a major ideological rift within the Republican Party as the 2024 nomination race heats up.

While former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis have called for devoting resources to domestic issues instead of Ukraine, other declared and potential presidential candidates have portrayed themselves as staunch defenders of the Eastern European county.

Both Pence and Sununu have defended Ukraine in the past, but their comments on Saturday were particularly pointed and came as the dispute over Republican foreign policy intensified.

This week, DeSantis said in a statement to conservative radio host Tucker Carlson that the Ukraine war was a “territorial dispute” that was not a vital national interest for the United States.

DeSantis has not declared a presidential run but is widely expected to do so and is Trump’s strongest Republican challenger to date.

Speaking in Iowa, Pence, who is also expected to run, took a swipe at the Florida governor.

“I must tell you the war in Ukraine is not a territorial dispute. It is a Russian aggression,” he told a group of Republicans near Des Moines.

“I truly believe that this is a moment of testing for the free world to ensure peace in Eastern Europe.”

Pence has not criticized Trump, even opposing the former president devoting more resources to Ukraine and once calling Russian President Vladimir Putin a “genius” for invading the neighboring country.

In a Washington Post opinion column, New Hampshire Gov. Sununu went straight after Trump and DeSantis.

“Some in the Republican Party have lost their moral compass on foreign policy, as evidenced by former President Donald Trump, who once called Putin’s attacks ‘genius’ and ‘intelligent,'” Sunu wrote.

Pence is running well behind Trump and DeSantis, vying for a distant third place with former UN ambassador Nikki Haley, another supporter of Ukraine.

Sununu, a relative moderate who is also considering a run, is polling in the low single digits.

(Reporting by Gram Slattery; Editing by Josie Cao)

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