Schedule: Pro-Life Pence May Run for Governor, Not President

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 4, 2011   |   2:10PM   |   Washington, DC

Congressman Mike Pence of Indiana may be preparing for a bid to become the next governor of Indiana as opposed to joining what is expected to become a crowded presidential campaign.

Pence is a darling for the pro-life community because he has been a strong pro-life champion — solidifying his credentials behind legislation that would revoke hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer funds sent to the Planned Parenthood abortion business.

Although Pence has already won a straw poll with social issues votes and is liked by fiscal conservatives as well, his schedule makes it appear he may not announce a presidential run but, instead, launch a campaign for governor to replace potential presidential hopeful Gov. Mitch Daniels.

Brian Howey, a respected Indiana political reporter obtained a copy of Pence’s upcoming schedule and it lists quite a number of Indiana events, including dinners and other local events that are state-focused. That’s opposed to events that would take Pence to influential early presidential battleground states like Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina.

“It is the best clue yet that he is preparing to launch a 2012 Indiana gubernatorial campaign, as opposed to seeking the presidency,” Howey says.

Katrina Trinko of the conservative National Review web site agrees and says Pence appears to be the leading candidate to become governor, which would give him a platform to run for the president in 2016, 2020 or beyond. The only knock on Pence is that he has no executive experience and it is rare for a member of the House to run a successful campaign for the presidency — happening last when James Garfield became president in the 1800s.

“Pence’s office declined to comment, but it is expected that he will announce his decision this month. If he does opt to run for governor, it’s unlikely he will face any high-profile opponents: Republican lieutenant governor Becky Skillman, who was expected to run, has announced she will not, as has Democrat senator Evan Bayh,” Trinko said.

Ed Morrissey of the conservative Hot Air blog also supported that line of thought.

“The gubernatorial race is wide open at the moment.  Mitch Daniels is term-limited and cannot run for re-election, and he’s clearly aiming at the GOP nomination in 2012,” Morrissey said. “Pence would be the natural Republican frontrunner. It’s a perfect situation for Pence to gain a significant executive position in preparation for a presidential run in the longer-term future — perhaps 2016 or 2020.”

Although that would disappoint those who like Pence in a presidential campaign, Morrissey said it is the most “realistic” scenario for the pro-life congressman.

“Pence gave up his leadership position in the House this year, apparently planning to free up his time to make the gubernatorial run.  Only one President has won election from the House, and that was James Garfield more than 130 years ago.  Doing that as a backbencher would be even more difficult, especially after four years of having a man with no executive experience run the White House with disastrous results,” he said. “Republicans will want to offer proven executive competence as a remedy to the incompetence of Barack Obama.”

“For Pence, though, this is a smart move and sets him up later for bigger platforms.  Pence will need a successful term under his belt to join a deepening GOP bench for the outer years, and a big win to succeed Daniels would help both men — Daniels now, and Pence in the future,” he concluded.