Hamas fired thousands of rockets at Israel, while dozens of their fighters infiltrated the fortified border by air, land and sea in areas near the Gaza Strip on Saturday morning, marking the latest escalation in the longstanding Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The attack drew bipartisan rebuke from leaders within the United States, with President Joe Biden vowing to stick by Israel. Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during a televised address on Saturday that the country was now “at war.”
Pence, who is running in the Republican presidential primary, appeared on CNN‘s State of the Union to discuss the attack on Sunday morning, suggesting that Republicans‘ rhetoric on foreign policy played a role in the attack.
He continued: “What happened in Ukraine was an unprovoked invasion by Russia. What happened this weekend was an unprovoked invasion by Hamas into Israel. I really believe now more than ever, both in the debate within the Republican Party and in the debate within America, is whether or not we’re going to once again stand without apology as the leader of the free world.”
His comments drew criticism from Conway, who has turned against the Republican Party over its embrace of Trump and helped found The Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump political action committee. In a post to X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, he wrote that candidates shouldn’t use the attack for “political gain.”
“Even though Trump, Ramaswamy, and DeSantis are atrocious in many ways, this attempt to invoke Hamas’s monstrous attack for personal political gain is offensive, ridiculous, and stupid. The truth is, this attack did not occur because of anything the U.S. did or did not do,” Conway wrote.
Some conservatives have shifted toward a more isolationist policy, saying that the federal government should be less involved in other countries’ affairs. The war between Russia and Ukraine has sparked GOP pushback in providing military aid to Kyiv, as some say the funds should be spent domestically instead—a stark contrast from GOP rhetoric from the pre-Trump era.
Pence has cast himself as a more traditional conservative, calling for a rebuke of the isolationist policies embraced by some on the right. However, Trump remains the frontrunner in the 2024 Republican presidential primary as conservative voters embrace his brand of politics and foreign policy.
The former president addressed the attack in a Truth Social post on Saturday, writing that his administration brought “so much peace” to the region.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump Jr., the son of the former president, also wrote a post on X defending his father.
“You’re the embodiment of the kind of weakness that led to this. You should have paid attention when you were groveling at the feet of the master. Trump brought peace because the world knew — F around and find out! We’ll never return to the failed approach of you and your uniparty fools,” he wrote, referring to Pence.
Newsweek reached out to Pence’s campaign for comment via email.