In his column for the Daily Beast, conservative Matt Lewis wrote the epitaphs for former Vice President Mike Pence and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R), saying they might as well leave the national scene because neither will ever be president unless there is a major sea change among Republican voters in the wake of Donald Trump.
Noting that Pence and Haley have been making prominent appearances in the past two weeks as they set the stage for jumping into the 2024 GOP presidential primary, Lewis said they're wavering on Donald Trump -- at one moment disavowing him, the next embracing Trumpism -- isn't fooling the hardcore GOP voters they would need to be successful.
According to the conservative columnist -- himself an avowed never Trumper -- they have become "roadkill" on the path to the Oval Office.
"Pence and Haley seem to think they can thread the needle the way they might have 'triangulated' between their conservative base and the mainstream media in the past. They think that they can be 'compassionate conservatives' who also downplay the Jan. 6 insurrection. They think they can marry Reagan-Bush conservatism with Trumpism, at least in part, by humiliating themselves," he wrote. "But these things are mutually exclusive and an era that values extremes like Trump on the right and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the left doesn't reward half-measures. As liberal columnist and Texan Jim Hightower put it decades ago, there's nothing in the middle of the road but yellow stripes and dead armadillos."
As Lewis notes, even if the one-term president doesn't run, the party has changed -- and not for the better-- and there is an extensive menu of Trump-like GOP candidates who have moved to the forefront while leaving Pence and Haley in the dust.
"Trumpism will linger. Republicans will line up behind someone more authentically like Trump, like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (and no, I'm not persuaded by this poll) or maybe another right-wing celebrity who never held public office will emerge (think my old boss Tucker Carlson). Pence and Haley will likely end up with nothing. Not even their dignity," he wrote before adding, "Since they can't go back in time, and since swimming against the tide is (at best) treading water, the best thing they could do is wait for the world to change. But they're still here, acting like no one will remember they were caught swimming naked when the tide rolls back in."
To finally illustrate his point, he added Exhibit A in thwarted ambitions after going against the Trump tide and then trying to get back in the good graces of the volatile ex-president.
"While Pence and Haley might have been formidable Republican presidential candidates in, say, 2012, the party has moved on—whether they like it or not. Timing is everything in politics, as Chris Christie could tell you," he wrote before predicting, "Hello Florida, goodbye Pence and Haley."
You can read the whole piece here.