Former vice-president Mike Pence has declared himself a candidate in the 2024 Republican race for the White House – pitting himself against Donald Trump.
Mr Pence‘s campaign filed a declaration of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission.
He will formally launch his campaign with a video and a speech in the early nominating state of Iowa on Wednesday, three sources familiar with the situation told Reuters, which is his 64th birthday.
The 48th vice president of the United States will challenge his former boss just two years after their White House tenure ended with the infamous Capitol riots – which saw Mr Pence, who was in the building with his family, flee for safety.
Mr Trump is currently leading the early fight for the nomination, with Florida governor, Ron DeSantis, polling consistently in second.
However, Mr Pence’s supporters see a gap in the race for a traditional conservative who backs many of the previous administration’s policies – but does not bring the turmoil associated with Mr Trump’s leadership.
He once stood loyally by the billionaire businessman turned politician – but refused to back the former president when he attempted to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
Mr Pence declined to say whether he would back Mr Trump if the former US president wins the Republican nomination, when questioned by journalists in March.
The former governor of Indiana describes himself as a “Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order”.
He is strongly opposed to abortion and has backed calls for a national ban, while also campaigning against policies which support transgender people in schools.
Mr Pence has also urged US officials to give more help to Ukraine in its war against Russia and has criticised “Putin apologists” for failing to stand up to the Russian president.
The White House hopeful has spent months laying the groundwork for an expected run – holding events, visiting churches and speaking to potential donors in Iowa, South Carolina and New Hampshire.
On Sunday he and DeSantis joined hundreds of motorcyclists in Iowa to take part in the annual Roast and Ride event, in aid of a veterans’ charity, the Freedom Foundation.
Mr Pence was pictured wearing a black leather waistcoat as he rode a blue Harley Davidson in the convoy.
He joins a growing number of Republican rivals, also including U.S Senator Tim Scott, and the former governor of South Carolina, Niki Haley.
Sources close to North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum say he intends to throw his hat into the ring on Wednesday.
Meanwhile the former governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, is also planning to enter the race on Tuesday.
But the number of candidates vying for the nomination have caused concern among Trump opponents inside the Republican party, who fear the anti-Trump vote could be split – handing the candidacy to the firebrand former president.
Last December Mr Pence’s team were forced to deny he had filed to run for president in 2024 after a statement of candidacy listed Mike Richard Pence instead of his legal name, Michael Richard Pence.