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Pence welcomes Trump at GOP debate, though former president likely a no-show

Mike Pence is a White man with white hair, wearing a suit.
Brandon Smith
IPB News
Former Vice President Mike Pence said he hopes the Republican presidential primary debate will allow voters to learn more about him.

It’s extremely unlikely Donald Trump will appear onstage with his fellow candidates at Wednesday’s Republican debate in Milwaukee.

Former Vice President Mike Pence said he hopes his former running mate attends — and is ready if he does.

Trump recently posted on social media that he won’t attend the first Republican presidential primary debate this cycle. Instead, he will reportedly do a recorded interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson.

Pence, though, said he would welcome Trump’s presence onstage in Milwaukee.

“I’ve debated Donald Trump a thousand times — just not with the cameras on,” Pence said.

READ MORE: Pence on latest Trump indictment: Georgia election wasn't stolen

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Pence said he hopes the debate will be an opportunity for voters to get to know him better. That includes highlighting differences between him and Trump on issues such as changes to Social Security and Medicare, and Russia’s war on Ukraine.

“Candidly, the differences I have with my former running mate have as much to do with different visions for the American future,” Pence said.

Pence said he wants to make long-term changes to Social Security and Medicare that he argues will ensure the programs remain viable into the future. He said Trump is ignoring the issue.

And he said the former president is not supportive enough of Ukraine in its fight against Russian invasion.

Pence is one of eight candidates set for the GOP debate.

Brandon is our Statehouse bureau chief. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

Brandon Smith has covered the Statehouse for Indiana Public Broadcasting for more than a decade, spanning three governors and a dozen legislative sessions. He's also the host of Indiana Week in Review, a weekly political and policy discussion program seen and heard across the state. He previously worked at KBIA in Columbia, Missouri and WSPY in Plano, Illinois. His first job in radio was in another state capitol - Jefferson City, Missouri - as a reporter for three stations around the Show-Me State.