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Ex-Trump vice president Pence makes first public appearance since January

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Former Vice President Mike Pence emerged from seclusion on Thursday for his first public appearance since leaving office and offered a road map for Republicans to win back the White House in 2024 without saying whether he would be a candidate.

Pence spoke for a half hour in Columbia, South Carolina, to the Palmetto Family Council, a religious conservative group. It was his first speech since he and then-President Donald Trump handed over power to President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on Jan. 20.

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Pence appeared in good health at the event, just a few weeks after he underwent a surgical procedure to implant a pacemaker in his chest.

Pence outlined how Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010 after two years of Democrat Barack Obama's presidency.

"We're going to do it again in the next four years," said Pence. "We have the winning agenda and now it's incumbent upon us to take that winning agenda to the American people."

While he said nothing about whether he would seek high office again, the speech appeared to signal Pence's intention to remain in the Republican conversation as the party tries to rebound from losing the White House and the U.S. Senate in 2020 elections.

Pence and Trump had a bitter ending at the White House after Pence refused Trump's entreaties to try to block the certification in Congress of Biden’s Electoral College win on Jan. 6. That same day pro-Trump protesters stormed the U.S. Capitol and delayed the certification.

Pence attended Biden's inauguration while Trump refused to do so.

Trump advisers say Trump remains disappointed in Pence over the vote certification issue.

Earlier on Thursday, Trump told Fox Business Network that he would consider Florida Governor Ron DeSantis as a potential 2024 running mate should he make another run for president.

For his part, Pence declared to the South Carolina group that he was proud to have served at Trump's side over the past four years, a nod to the powerful role Trump retains in the Republican Party.

"Thank you for the privilege of serving as your vice president and the privilege of serving alongside President Donald Trump. It's the greatest honor of my life," he said.

Pence offered heavy criticism of Biden's agenda and spoke fondly of the Trump-Pence administration's record on national security and on the U.S. economy before the coronavirus pandemic threw the United States into recession.

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