Saturday, October 9, 2010

Column: Pence is Poised as Vable 2012 Prospect

An opinion piece from Iowa's Des Moines Register earlier this week:

Indiana Congressman Mike Pence joked during a weekend speech in Des Moines that he didn’t come to Iowa by accident.

Pence, speaking to about 550 people at an Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition dinner, acknowledged he was here on purpose – with a sole aim of helping elect Republicans in November 2010. Few missed the unspoken message that the trip, coming just two weeks after he won the Values Voters presidential straw poll in Washington, D.C., also served to keep his name in play for 2012.

“Oh, he’s running,” Gopal Krishna, vice president of the Iowa Christian Alliance, said after Pence’s speech Saturday at the Iowa State Fairgrounds.

Running for what is the question. Pence is also considered a potential 2012 candidate for governor of Indiana when term limits force out Republican Mitch Daniels. Daniels is also a possible 2012 presidential contender.
Pence, head of the House GOP Conference, stands to increase his leadership status should his party win the majority.

He has been traveling the country, campaigning and raising money for congressional candidates. He stopped by Brad Zaun’s congressional campaign office on Saturday and also endorsed attorney general candidate Brenna Findley.

As for the presidential path, Pence’s supporters are billing him as the antidote to a GOP field in which the best-known potential candidates all have Achilles heels. Mitt has Romneycare. Thrice-married Newt Gingrich has a cross to bear with the Christian right. Sarah Palin is a polarizing mama bear.
Pence emphasized that GOP leaders can’t set aside religious social values even while pocketbook concerns loom large.

It was notable, however, that Pence didn’t weigh in on the debate about judicial retention here in Iowa. “Vote No” signs advocating removal of three Supreme Court justices were flying out the door during Saturday’s event.

When a reporter asked after the speech about judicial elections, Pence took a pass. “I don’t want to comment on a specific local issue. Let me just say, I believe that marriage matters. I believe in defending traditional marriage against the efforts of activist judges who seek to redefine it.”

Critics of the organized effort to defeat judges warn that it opens the courtroom door to special-interest money and political pressure.

Pence, a former radio commentator, likes to use high-flown rhetoric. “A nation conceived in liberty has come of age in bondage to big government,” he said Saturday. Most of the Faith & Freedom crowd was eating it up faster than the fried chicken and Jell-O fluff. Iowa Congressman Steve King praised Pence as the best communicator in the House Republican caucus.

Should Pence run for president, however, he’ll find that lofty eloquence can be a drawback with some voters.

Randy Crawford of Coralville said after the speech that Pence and Mike Huckabee are on his short list for 2012 so far. But Crawford said he prefers to hear Pence when he speaks off the cuff rather than from prepared text. “I just think he sort of thought too hard,” Crawford said. “He’s an excellent speaker, but I’d say he shines more brightly when he speaks from the top of his head.”

Pence said he doesn’t have any immediate plans to return to Iowa, but I expect we’ll see him before long. He’s in a good position to market himself as a better-rounded alternative to the A-list candidates and as a more viable prospect than others on the B or C lists. He may not be a dream candidate, but he’s also not living in fantasyland. As a rising congressional leader with a fundraising base, he could position himself as a slightly paler shade of dark horse. is an independent site and is not affiliated with any official web sites, associations, or organizations associated with President Reagan. Any views expressed or content included on this site do not necessarily reflect the views, positions, or opinions of any of the organizations or individuals named, linked, or advertised.

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