Former Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday described systemic racism as a “left-wing myth” during a speech hosted by a Republican group in New Hampshire, adopting the racial politics of his former boss, President Donald J. Trump.
But Mr. Pence, a potential candidate for a 2024 presidential run, also distanced himself from the former president, describing the Jan. 6 attack as “a dark day in the history of the United States Capitol.”
“President Trump and I’ve spoken many times since we left office,” Mr. Pence said. “I don’t know if we’ll ever see eye-to-eye on that day.”
The speech illustrated the careful balance Mr. Pence is aiming to strike in squaring the rhetoric of the Republican Party under Mr. Trump while standing by his opposition to Mr. Trump’s attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
After focusing much of his speech on touting the achievements of the Trump administration, Mr. Pence took aim at “critical race theory,” a graduate school framework that has found its way into K-12 public education, asserting that young children are being taught “to be ashamed of their skin color.”
“It is past time for America to discard the left-wing myth of systemic racism,” Mr. Pence said at the annual Lincoln Reagan Dinner hosted by the Hillsborough County Republicans in Manchester, N.H.
“America is not a racist country,” Mr. Pence said to raucous applause, two days after President Biden commemorated the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre.
Republicans have launched an energetic campaign in recent months aiming to dictate how historical and modern racism in America is taught in schools, and Mr. Pence indicated his support of efforts to ban critical race theory through legislation advanced in Republican-led states. Mr. Pence had previously targeted critical race theory in tweets and in his first speech in April after leaving office.
Mr. Pence’s appeal to racial politics went beyond education. Discussing efforts to defund law enforcement agencies, the former vice president said “Black lives are not endangered by police, Black lives are saved by police,” co-opting the language of Black Lives Matter — a movement he had shunned in office.