Congressman Mike Pence, a respected national pro-life leader, is stepping down from his position as chairman of the House Republican Conference one day after a huge win for pro-life and Republican candidates.
The move doesn’t come from any problems associated with the incoming Republican leaders or Pence but is seen as a potential step towards a gubernatorial bid in Indiana or a possible 2012 presidential race.
Pence has already said he doesn’t believe it’s fair to House Republicans to split his attention between the duties of a leadership post and a potential bid for higher office.
Pence informed fellow House Republicans in a “Dear Colleague” letter today that he would leave the third-ranking position in the GOP, which could have allowed him to become Majority Whip in the new House.
“I am writing to inform you that, after much prayerful consideration, I have decided not to seek reelection as chairman of the House Republican Conference,” Pence said, adding he has new “opportunities’ to pursue.
“As we consider new opportunities to serve Indiana and our nation in the years ahead, I have come to realize that it may not be possible to complete an entire term as conference chairman,” he wrote.
In a Fox News interview this morning, Pence said the House Republican majority would make attempting to repeal ObamaCare a top priority.
“Republicans will not rest until we repeal ObamaCare lock stock and barrel,” Pence said.
Asked if he would consider a potential presidential run, Pence demurred and said he will “prayerfully consider” whatever the future may bring.
Pence could seek the gubernatorial post currently held by pro-life Gov. Mitch Daniels, who is himself a potential Republican presidential candidate — though he hurt himself with talk of a social issues truce on issues like abortion.
But it is Pence’s potential as a presidential candidate that already has pro-life advocates excited — so much so that he came in first place in the Values Voters Summit straw poll of hundreds of pro-life and conservative activists.
Pence ultimately finished with 24 percent of the vote at the pro-family event — good enough to rise above the most talked about presidential hopefuls. Mike Huckabee finished a close second, Mitt Romney came in third, Newt Gingrich fourth and Sarah Palin fifth.
Whether Pence remains a GOP leader, runs for governor or considers a presidential bid, his resolute pro-life position is crystal clear, especially when it comes to the potential truce.
“Now I know some say that Republicans should stay away from such issues this year…that the American people are focused on jobs and spending and our movement would do well to stand aside, bank the win and return to fight after this fiscal and economic crisis has passed,” he said during the Values Voter Summit.
“But we do not live in a world where an American leader can just focus on our financial ledger. A political party that would govern this great nation must be able to handle more than one issue at a time. We must focus on our fiscal crisis and support our troops. We must work to create jobs and protect innocent human life,” he continued.
Pence added, “To those who say we should focus on cutting spending, I say ‘Ok, let’s start by denying all federal funding for abortion at home and abroad! Stop funding research that destroys human embryos in the name of science, and let’s deny any and all funding to Planned Parenthood of America.’”
“We must not remain silent when great moral battles are being waged. Those who would have us ignore the battle being fought over life … have forgotten the lessons of history. As in the days of a House divided, America’s darkest moments have come when economic arguments trumped moral principles,” he said. “Men and women, we must demand, here and now, that the leaders of the Republican Party stand for life” and to do so “without apology.”
Pence expressed strong appreciation for the election victories Republicans and pro-life candidates won on Tuesday.
“Tonight belongs to the American people. This election victory belongs to millions of Americans who stood up, spoke out and said ‘enough is enough’ and would no longer tolerate an imperial Congress that ignored the will of the people,” he said in a statement emailed to LifeNews.com.
“Republicans have not just been given a new majority in Congress, Republicans have been given a second chance,” Pence continued.
“House Republicans will welcome our new generation of leaders with open arms and work every day to deserve the confidence the American people have placed in us. And we will work to re-establish American exceptionalism rather than denying or apologizing for it,” he said.