Conservative activists have created a new organization designed to persuade pro-life Congressman Mike Pence of Indiana to mount a bid for the Republican nomination for president.
The congressman has drawn respect from both fiscal and social conservatives, in part because of his serious push to revoke taxpayer funding for the Planned Parenthood abortion business, and he is weighing whether or not to run for president or become a gubernatorial candidate in his home state to replace outgoing Governor Mike Daniels in 2012, who is a possible presidential contender himself.
Former Rep. Jim Ryan, a pro-life Kansas Republican, is also a part of the draft Pence committee, which has already put up a web site.
“Mike Pence extraordinarily exemplifies the optimistic, pro-growth, pro-job creation Reagan-Kemp wing of the GOP. Grass-roots conservatives, Republicans, the tea party and populists are looking for a man or woman of principle who can champion and unite the newly energized and engaged citizenry,” Benko said, according to AP. “Mike Pence is the best choice to lead us into a new era of peace and prosperity.”
Pence stepped down from his position in the last session of Congress as the number three House Republican and will not hold the leadership post in this session of Congress so he can evaluate his future political prospects.
Should Pence seek the GOP nomination, he would likely face a tough challenge ahead as few Americans are intimately familiar with him — a problem that has kept a member of the House of Representatives from becoming president since James Garfield in the 1800’s. He would face a potentially crowded field that could possibly include well-known pro-life contenders like Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney. Other pro-life potential candidates include Tim Pawlenty, Rick Santorum, Haley Barbour and Herman Cain, the businessman who has already started an exploratory committee.
However, some political observers say Pence is likely to run for governor. They point to the fact that Indiana Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman, a popular Republican, will not be running and no top-tier candidate has emerged on either the Republican or Democratic side, making it so Pence would have a huge lead in the race.
Philip Klein, a writer at the conservative American Spectator, explains the appeal for Pence.
“There are a few factors driving talk of a Pence presidential run. A regular speaker at tea parties, Pence is one of a small number of elected Republicans with an appeal to economic, social and national security conservatives,” he writes. “Last fall, the presidential talk got a boost when he won the straw poll at the Value Voters’ summit, surprising many who assumed that Mike Huckabee had it in the bag.”
Klein believes Pence may see 2012 as a better opportunity to run for president than a future date.
“If Pence has any ambition of seeking the presidency, this may be the best time to do it given the wide-openness of the GOP field. Mitt Romney is the closest thing to a frontrunner, and yet he’s incredibly vulnerable on a number of key issues. By 2016, several potentially strong candidates who don’t have plans to run this time (Govs. Chris Christie and Bobby Jindal) will have matured,” he explains.