MIKE Pence is reportedly laying the groundwork for a presidential run in 2024, after being snubbed by Donald Trump for refusing to back him in election fraud claims.
The reports come after Trump named Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Sens. Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz as those he considers the future leaders of the Republican Party.
Former vice president Pence has been steadily reentering public life by joining conservative organizations, writing op-eds, delivering speeches and launching a ‘video podcast’ with an advocacy group that will focus on promoting the Trump administration’s accomplishments.
GOP strategists say Pence’s actions since leaving office, like remaining in the Washington, D.C. arre signs he could seek public office again – even aiming for the presidency.
Pence, 61, broke ties with Trump, 74, after the November 2020 election, when the former President made insubstantial claims of voter fraud.
Trump told audiences Democrats ‘stole’ the election from him – an allegation in which Pence ultimately did not support.
On Jan. 6, when Pence was at Capitol Hill to oversee certification of the Electoral College results, the pro-Trump mob chanting ‘Hang Mike Pence’ breached the building.
The former leaders have reportedly not been on speaking terms since then.
For someone who built a reputation as one of Trump’s most steadfast supporters, Pence is now viewed with suspicion among many Republicans for observing his constitutional duty in January to facilitate a peaceful transfer of power to the Biden administration, a decision that still has Trump fuming.
To prevail in a Republican presidential primary, Pence may have to reinforce his loyalty to Trump while defending his decisions during the final days of the administration.
Pence aides have so far brushed off talk of the next presidential election, insisting he is focused on his family and next year’s midterm elections.
Republican Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana, who chairs the conservative Republican Study Committee and has already endorsed a Pence 2024 run, said: “I think 2024’s a long time away and if Mike Pence runs for president he will appeal to the Republican base in a way that will make him a strong contender.”
“If and when Mike Pence steps back up to the plate, I think he will have strong appeal among Republicans nationwide.”
Pence declined to comment for this story, while Trump aides warn against reading too much into the omission during the podcast interview.
Trump adviser Jason Miller said: “That was not an exclusive list.”
During the interview, however, Trump continued to deride Pence, falsely claiming he somehow had the authority to unilaterally overturn the results of the election – even though vice presidents do not have that power.
Trump has not said whether he will seek the White House again in 2024.
In 2019, Donald Trump refused to say if he would back Pence if he ran for president.
He was asked during an interview with ‘Fox & Friends’ whether Pence would have his automatic endorsement.
Trump replied: “Well, it’s — I love Mike, we are running again, you’re talking about a long time, so you can’t put me in that position.”
“But I certainly would give it very strong consideration. He’s a very, very outstanding person.”
Since leaving office in January, Pence, who served as Indiana’s governor and a member of Congress before being tapped as Trump’s running mate, has kept a lower profile. He’s pieced together a portfolio aimed at maintaining influence, paying the bills and laying the groundwork for an expected presidential run.
He’s forged a partnerships with the conservative Heritage Foundation and has even been discussed as a potential president of the organization, according to two people familiar with the discussions.
He’s joined the Young America’s Foundation and a top speakers’ bureau, penned an op-ed for the Daily Signal in which he perpetuated falsehoods about the 2020 election, and recently toured a Christian relief organization in North Carolina.
He will make his first public speech since leaving office next month at the Palmetto Family Council’s annual fundraiser in South Carolina, another crucial primary state.
Pence has also discussed writing a book, according to aides, has been in continued conversation with his evangelical allies, and plans to spend much of the next two years helping Republican candidates as they try to reclaim House and Senate majorities in 2022.
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He’s also planning to launch an advocacy organization that aides and allies say will give him a platform to defend the Trump administration’s record and push back on the current president’s policies as he tries to merge the traditional conservative movement with Trumpism.
“He’s doing what he needs to be doing to lay the groundwork in the event he wants to set up an exploratory committee,” Stewart said. “You have to make money, lay the groundwork, gauge the support and then pull the trigger.”
Pence’s allies see him as the natural Trump heir, someone who can keep his base engaged while winning back suburban voters who left the party in droves during the Trump era.