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
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,” a monthly 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 high-dollar donors.
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
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,” he said.
The governor’s 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
The fundraising 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.
Decisions are 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 of Texas.
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 this point.”
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.