Mike Pence, an Irish American and former US Vice President, filed a presidential statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission on Monday, June 5.

Pence, a Republican, is expected to formally announce his 2024 US presidential campaign tomorrow, June 6, the day before his 64th birthday.

His announcement sets up a Republican showdown with Donald Trump, who announced last November that he will be seeking reelection in 2024. Trump, with Pence as his running mate, won the 2016 US Presidential election but the duo failed to get re-elected in 2020.

Pence joins Trump in a crowded Republican field for 2024 - Ron DeSantis, Nikki Haley, Ryan Binkley, Larry Elder, Asa Hutchinson, Perry Johnson, Vivek Ramaswamy, and Tim Scott have also declared their candidacies.

On the other side of the aisle, US President Joe Biden has announced he will be seeking reelection, while Robert F. Kennedy, Jr and Marianne Williamson have also declared their candidacy.

Biden and Trump are currently the frontrunners for their respective parties in 2024.

Mike Pence’s Irish roots

Mike Pence is named after his maternal grandfather Richard Michael Cawley, a native of Tubbercurry, Co Sligo who emigrated to the US, arriving at New York City's Ellis Island on April 11, 1923. 

Cawley settled in Chicago where he worked as a bus driver and married Irish American Mary Maloney, whose family emigrated from Doonbeg, Co Clare. (In a strange coincidence, former President Trump has a golf resort in Doonbeg which Pence stayed in while in the White House.)

Top of the Morning To You America! Remembering my Irish immigrant grandfather this morning and
wishing the Irish and Irish at heart #HappyStPatricksDay🍀

— Mike Pence (@Mike_Pence) March 17, 2023

Pence spent many of his childhood summers in Ireland. In 2009, he told the Irish Voice newspaper, sister publication to IrishCentral, that he remembers cutting turf and saving hay with his family in Co Clare and Co Sligo. 

The Pence family, as the New York Times previously noted, "idolized" President John F. Kennedy, the first Irish-Catholic president of the US.

Pence used to be a Democrat - he volunteered with the Bartholomew County Democratic Party in 1976 and voted for Jimmy Carter in the 1980 US presidential election, but switched to the Republican party while in college. Around the same time, he left the Catholic Church to become an evangelical, born-again Christian.

In his political life, Pence's Irish roots led him to meet with the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform (ILIR) in 2009, when few Republican politicians would do so.

In July 2016, Pence, who had been Governor of Indiana since 2013 and a US Representative from 2011 to 2013, was announced as Trump's running mate for that year's presidential election. Accepting the nomination, Pence described himself as "a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican, in that order."

As a guest of honor at the 2017 Ireland Funds Gala in Washington, DC, Vice President Pence said: "Like so many of my fellow countrymen, I literally carry Ireland with me everywhere I go.

"On one of my first trips to Ireland when I was a young man, I was sitting in a public house, Pat Morrissey’s Pub — it’s still open in Doonbeg to this day.

"Pat was around back then, and he let me help out behind the bar. I’ll never forget the little old lady who spoke to me. And I told her very quickly that I was related to the Morrisseys, distant cousins.

"And I said, actually I’m Irish by heritage. And she looked at me and smile and said, you don’t have to tell me, son, you’ve got a face like the map of Ireland.

"It does all go back to that day. It was Inauguration Day just a few short weeks ago. People ask me what I was thinking about surrounded by my wife and my children, our beautiful new daughter-in-law. My mother was just there, a few seats behind the President.

"I just kept thinking of that day in April in 1923. That was the day when Richard Michael Cawley stepped off the boat on Ellis Island. He was in his early 20s when he steamed into Upper New York Bay aboard the Andania, the ship that carried him here.

"I can’t imagine what the sight of the Statue of Liberty meant to him that day, holding aloft the torch of freedom. My grandfather went home to be with the Lord when it was in about my 26th year. But we were very close. He said I was the only Irishman born among the four boys in our family. Not sure yet what that meant. But I was flattered by it.

"My grandpa had grown up in a little town called Tobercurry, in County Sligo. When I was young man, I had a chance to visit that house before they tore it down. It was just a two-room house where his eight brothers and sisters grew up.

"And I literally walked up the hill that — when Karen and I and the kids visited Ireland just a few years ago, we walked up that hill, as well.

"The legend in our family was my great-grandmother had stood outside that little house and looked over at the Ox Mountains and looked off to the west, and told him that he needed to go because she said, there’s a future there for you.

"He wouldn’t speak to his mother for 25 years. And when he said the old country, he said with a reverence that I could never adequately express. He talked about crossing the pond, talked about the heartbreak of that separation.

"But as I stood on that inaugural stage, I just kept thinking of that Irishman. I kept thinking of what he would be thinking about looking down from glory."

Pence added: "...all that I am and all that I will ever be and all the service that I will ever render is owing to my Irish heritage."

Later, in September 2019, Pence visited Ireland in an official capacity as Vice President. He stayed in Trump's resort in Doonbeg, Co Clare.

Thank you for a great visit! To all the good people of Ireland, may the road rise to meet you, may the wind be always at your back, may the sun shine warm upon your face, may the rains fall soft upon your fields, & until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand. pic.twitter.com/Af5PpiLdLf

— Vice President Mike Pence Archived (@VP45) September 3, 2019