Former Vice President Mike Pence arrives for a luncheon sponsored by the UVU Gary R. Herbert Institute of Public Policy on April 28, 2023 at the Zion Bank headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
Former Vice President Mike Pence is expected to declare his presidential candidacy in Iowa next Wednesday, according to a source close to him, as growing numbers of GOP challengers throw their own hats in the ring.
The former Indiana governor has been laying the groundwork for an announcement since at least 2021 — partnering with key conservative political groups, taking up numerous speaking engagements, campaigning on behalf of fellow Republicans and promoting his book.
Asked in late March about his plans, Pence told Fox News, “The truth of the matter is we have to produce leadership in this country that will take our country back to the policies that left us stronger and more prosperous in the Trump-Pence years.”
“And if we can play a part in that, we will,” he concluded, according to The Hill.
Some familiar with Pence say they’re “not at all surprised” with his decision to run.
“He marches to the beat of a different drummer,” said former state Rep. Mike Murphy, a longtime Republican politico. Murphy asserted that political candidates of both parties “run out of some narcissistic savior complex.”
“But Pence doesn’t think that way,” he added. “His idea of service really guides him. I’m not saying he doesn’t look at polls — he is pragmatic. But they don’t lead him. God guides him. He is there to serve God and God’s purpose.”
The race so far
Pence is expected to enter the race just as it’s getting more crowded.
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie plans to announce his bid just one day before Pence, according to several news reports. U.S. Sen Tim Scott of South Carolina launched his campaign last week, and was followed two days later by Florida Gov. Mike DeSantis in a glitch-ridden Twitter event.
Former President Donald Trump leads the race for the Republican primary, but he’s also joined by political commentator Larry Elder, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy — whose company has connections to Indiana’s pension system.
President Joe Biden leads the Democratic field, which also includes author Marianne Williamson and anti-vaccine environmental lawyer Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
“I don’t think [Pence] will play dirty like Trump will,” Murphy said. “He will run a campaign of issues and ideas and let the chips fall where they may. He has been saying recently he wants to resurrect the ideals of true conservatism, not populism. In his mind, that’s the Reagan model. Some people will say that makes him a dinosaur, but some truths and values are timeless.”
But, Murphy said, Pence could stand to lose some of the caution and discipline that has characterized his public persona — “It works in some ways but in other ways it hides the real person,” he commented.
Pence is headed to Michigan Wednesday evening to speak alongside former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos at a “What do conservatives believe?” event hosted by the conservative Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal.
Iowa, the site of his expected announcement, remains the Republican Party’s first nominating caucus nationwide, conferring it outsized significance. Democrats recently swapped the state out for South Carolina as their first of the election cycle.
Indiana Capital Chronicle Editor Niki Kelly contributed reporting.
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