Mike Pence was accused of 'treason' by a Iowa State Fair attendee. Watch how he replied:

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Former Vice President Mike Pence defended his actions on Jan. 6 after being accused of "treason" by an audience member at the opening day of the Iowa State Fair, then criticized former President Donald Trump's request for him to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

After his speech at the Des Moines Register's Political Soapbox at the fair Thursday, Pence took questions from the audience, including one from an attendee who accused him of committing treason on Jan. 6, 2021.

“My question is this: Why did you commit treason on Jan. 6?” the man asked, before being drowned out by boos from the crowd.

Pence called it a fair question and said he was happy to answer.

"Look, come on, people, that’s why I came," he said. "No, I got it. I’ll answer your question."

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He responded that he followed the U.S. Constitution, recalling his oath of office as vice president and urging the questioner to "read Article II of the Constitution."

"There’s almost no idea more un-American than the notion that any one person could pick the American president," Pence said. "The American presidency belongs to the American people."

As he has before, Pence distanced himself from Trump's actions on Jan. 6, 2021. Trump was indicted this month on four counts of conspiring to overturn the 2020 election.

"People deserve to know that on that day, the former president asked me to choose him over my oath to the Constitution," Pence said. "I chose the Constitution, and I always will."

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Speaking to reporters after his remarks, Pence continued to criticize Trump, who remains the Republican presidential frontrunner ahead of Pence and a number of other candidates.

"Frankly, my former running mate has spent the last 2½ years telling people something that just didn't sell," Pence told reporters. "President Trump was wrong when he asked me, and he told the American people ever since, that I had the right to overturn the election. I had no right to overturn it."

The former vice president said he "appreciated (the questioner) giving me a respectful listen," and said he would "continue to tell the truth about what I did that day."

He added that the "vast majority of people that speak to me" about Jan. 6 "thanked me."

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Questioner says he's a Democrat from Colorado

The man who asked the question was David Stelzer, a Democrat and Joe Biden supporter from Parker, Colorado. He told the Register he doesn't believe Pence committed treason on Jan. 6.

"Heck no, I don’t believe he did," Stelzer said.

He said he asked the question because he wanted Pence to face the issue head-on.

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"That’s the elephant in this campaign," Stelzer said. "And lately he’s been very good, but he’s partly responsible for why 70% of Republicans do not believe the election was fair."

He said Pence "allowed this cancer in the Republican Party to metastasize" by not speaking out forcefully enough about what happened right after Jan. 6.

"I can respect him for coming out now," he said. "But I’ve got to be honest with Mr. Pence: he’s too late. The Republican base does not want him."

Stelzer said he believes Pence is an honorable man.

"I disagree with him on 80% of the issues or whatever but I think he’s an honorable person that I just happen to disagree with," Stelzer said of Pence. "And I do think if he were to become president that he would do what he thought was best for the United States."

Mike Pence says he has a 'home court advantage' at Iowa State Fair

Pence spoke for about 20 minutes on the Soapbox, telling the crowd about his background and taking questions on topics ranging from term limits for Congress (he supports them) to immigration (he pledged to secure the Southern border and fix the broken system).

Pence also fielded lighter questions from the audience, including whether he — a Cubs fan — would ever consider becoming a St. Louis Cardinals fan.

"Let me tell you, I’ll go to a game with you," he said. "But Karen and I, Wrigley is a place we’ve been many times as a family, and we love it."

GOP presidential candidate Mike Pence speaks at the Des Moines Register political soapbox during the Iowa State Fair, Thursday, Aug. 10, 2023.
GOP presidential candidate Mike Pence speaks at the Des Moines Register political soapbox during the Iowa State Fair, Thursday, Aug. 10, 2023.

Before his appearance he walked through the fairgrounds, shaking hands with Iowa State Patrol troopers and stopping to chat with supporters.

"You guys look like a fair postcard," he told a family with two young children.

He also met with members of the band For King + Country after his speech, telling them he and his wife were going to catch their show Thursday night at the fair.

He plans to spend Friday at the fair, starting with a "fair-side" chat with Gov. Kim Reynolds before he flips pork at the Iowa Pork Producers Tent and sees one of the fair's most famous attractions with U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst.

"I am here to see the butter cow," Pence told the Soapbox crowd, drawing cheers.

After his remarks, Pence told reporters being able to speak to Iowans face to face in large and small settings is "the great gift that Iowa gives to the American people every four years."

"Look, I’m a small-town guy from Southern Indiana," he said. "This is my strike zone. Being in the livestock barn, going to the pork tent. I mean, this is a home-court advantage for me."

Stephen Gruber-Miller covers the Iowa Statehouse and politics for the Register. He can be reached by email at sgrubermil@registermedia.com or by phone at 515-284-8169. Follow him on Twitter at @sgrubermiller.

Galen Bacharier covers politics for the Register. Reach him at gbacharier@registermedia.com or (573) 219-7440, and follow him on Twitter @galenbacharier.

This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Mike Pence takes on questioner who accused him of 'treason' on Jan. 6