Mike Pence May Leave GOP Leadership Position to Run for Governor, President

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 27, 2010   |   12:28PM   |   Washington, DC

Congressman Mike Pence has quickly become one of the most respected pro-life leaders on Capitol Hill, but he may be considering vacating his leadership position within the republican Party.

That’s because Pence is reportedly, according to reports in Politico and Fox News, considering stepping down from his position as the head of the GOP conference in the House to consider a gubernatorial or presidential bid.

The post has him as the third highest Republican in the House and he could find himself Majority Whip should Republicans capture the House on Tuesday from Nancy Pelosi and the other pro-abortion Democrats who control the chamber.

The reports suggest Pence does not believe he should keep a leadership post and dilute his effectiveness by dividing his time between that and a potential race for higher office.

For his part, Pence and his top spokesman have told media outlets that he’s not making any decisions until after the elections.

Pence spokesman Matt Lloyd told Politico the Indiana congressman’s “sole focus remains on winning back the majority in Congress and believes that speculating about who will occupy what leadership position in the next Congress is ‘looking past the playoffs’ and out of place.”

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.

His schedule has Pence making his way through Indiana as he campaigns for pro-life congressional candidates like Marlin Stutzman, Todd Young, Larry Buschon and Jackie Walorski.

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.

And his spokesman tells Fox News alone that he is making the rounds nationwide as well as in his home state.

“This week alone Mike Pence has campaigned for House candidates in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Florida, and Indiana.” Lloyd said. “His sole focus remains on winning back the majority in Congress, and believes that speculating about who will occupy what leadership position in the next Congress is ‘looking past the playoffs’ and out of place.”

Whether Pence remains a GOP leader, runs for governor or considers a presidential bid, his resolution 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 continued, “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.”

The congressman has demurred in any talk of a presidential bid — telling The Hill “people ask me if I’ve ever thought about it, and I tell them, ‘No more or no less than anybody else who grew up with a cornfield in their backyard.’”

“I’m totally focused on winning back the American Congress for conservative candidates,” Pence said previously.