Vice President Pence.

Former Vice President Mike Pence says Republicans have a “winning message” and he’s urging Christian conservatives to “buckle up” for the 2024 presidential campaign. Pence was the closing speaker at a day-long summit in Des Moines sponsored by The Family Leader and he listed his own frustrations with the political scene.

“We’ve been through a lot in the last year: a global pandemic, civil unrest, a divisive election, a tragic day in our nation’s capitol and now a new admin intent on transforming American into a European style secular welfare state,” Pence said.

Pence ran through a litany of complaints about the first 177 days of the Biden-Harris Administration. “The damage they’ve done in such a short period of time,” Pence said. “We know what our job is.”

About 1200 people gathered in a Des Moines convention hall Friday morning to listen to more than a dozen speakers, including South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — two other potential 2024 presidential candidates. The crowd stayed for Pence as the closer at the end of a seven-hour day and applauded throughout his speech, but without the whistling and loud bursts of cheering others received. Pence acknowledged this was “an easy time to get a little down” and appeared to indirectly address those in the GOP who believe he should not have certified Joe Biden won the Electoral College on January 6.

“We ought to keep the faith in the founders of this country, in the timeless wisdom of the Declaration and the Constitution,” Pence said. “We need to be the movement that keeps our oath, even when it hurts.”

AUDIO of Pence speech runs 31:30

Noem, who spoke earlier in the afternoon, shared pieces of her biography with the crowd — growing up on a farm and the name of her new granddaughter. “I hate this America that we’re giving her. I don’t recognize this country that we had the opportunity to grow up in. I just don’t,” Noem said. “When I grew up, people were proud to have a job. They weren’t confused on the difference between boys and girls…We honored our flag and we were a country that was proud of our history and that is not Joe Biden’s America.”

Noem acknowledged the first time many Iowans heard her name was as she was criticized for not closing any businesses or implementing lock downs during the pandemic, “but I do want you to know that my people are happy and they’re happy because they’re free.”

AUDIO of Noem speech runs 17:00

As she has elsewhere, Noem emphasized that she did not close a single South Dakota.

“I was shocked by how the media and liberals used fear to control people and how people gave up their freedoms,” Noem said. “They just rolled over.”

Iowa Democratic Party chairman Ross Wilburn denounced what he called the “hateful agenda” of The Family Leader, which organized Friday’s event. Wilburn says it was “shameful” for Governor Kim Reynolds and other Republicans “to support an organization that discriminates against LGBTQ+ Iowans.”