INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana's Republican Gov. Mike Pence is stoking talk
of a White House bid in 2016, with increasing trips out of state and the
high-profile rollout of a health insurance plan he is calling an
alternative to Medicaid.
Pence has been
saying for months that he is "listening" to national conservatives
interested in seeing him make a presidential bid. Meanwhile, he has been
out meeting with influential Republicans and conservatives.
He opened the
week mingling with potential donors in New York City, speaking at "The New
York Meeting," an annual gathering of conservative-thought leaders
organized by Mallory Factor. Factor, an independent banker and political
pundit, built his name in the last decade connecting Republicans with
And the governor
will be in Washington at the start of next week, pitching his proposal to
expand health insurance coverage for low-income Indiana residents at the
American Enterprise Institute, an influential conservative think tank.
But he has been
demur about his ambitions. When asked at Factor's New York talk if he
would run for the White House, Pence ducked the question — as he has many
times in the past few years.
"Any time I'm
mentioned or talked to about the highest office in the land is deeply
humbling, deeply humbling to me and my family, but my focus is Indiana,"
work for Indiana occasionally raises national and even international
questions. Earlier this month, Pence used an economic trade mission to
Germany to take an odd step for a sitting governor and criticized
President Barack Obama's handling of the situation in Ukraine. He also
called for the resumed construction of a European missile defense shield.
His staff explained his interest in foreign policy by citing his extensive
service on the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs while serving in
activity comes amid a flurry of Republican Party appearances for Pence. He
headlined the Wisconsin Republican Party's annual convention earlier this
month and is scheduled to speak at the Alabama Republican Party's
convention next month.
still a long way off for any would-be contender. Former Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton continues to dominate a speculative field for Democrats,
while the Republican field is well-populated with possibilities, from
establishment favorites including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush to tea
party fighters like U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz
That means Pence
would enter the race amid a long list of viable Republicans, but he could
find a way to victory if the field stayed wide open and clear of a
front-runner, said Darrell West, vice president and director of Governance
Studies at the Brookings Institution, a Washington-based think tank.
"He's testing the
waters," West said. "He would be on a long short-list. He's not at the
very top of the list, but the top of the list doesn't look so strong at
If he decided to
enter the race, Pence would come in with a strong fundraising network
built from his time in Washington and Republican moneymen in Indiana who
helped try to entice former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels to run in 2012.
Pence's name was thrown in the mix for the 2012 race as well, but he opted
against a run at that point, as many observers pointed out his strong
legislative resume, but lack of executive experience.