Michael Gaynor
Mike Pence presidential suspense
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By Michael Gaynor
January 26, 2011

Will Pence be the next James Garfield (the only President elected directly from the House of Representatives)?

Last October, Jason Wright, editor of PoliticalDerby.com, related a personal encounter with Indiana Republican Congressman Mike Pence in "Mike Pence for President" (http://politicalderby.com/2010/10/08/mike-pence-for-president/).

Wright:

"I ran into Congressman Pence at the Detroit airport a few days ago....

"I asked him pointblank if he plans to run for president in 2012. He was candid and, much to my surprise for someone at his level, refreshingly humble. I told him if he ran I knew he'd find support, given the buzz he's had here at PD whenever his name comes up.

"His response was that it's encouraging to hear things like that but that he's focused on 2010....

"I pressed and asked if he did run, when would he announce? By years end?

"He hesitated.

"I pressed again. 'Don't you expect some will announce by Christmas?'

"'Oh,' he smiled, 'I figure someone will announce by sundown on Nov 2.'

"I've met most of these guys at some point, and Congressman Pence might have been the most genuinely kind and gracious. He introduced me to several members of his staff and chatted comfortably. Only our flight in opposite directions kept us from chatting longer.

"So PD faithful, what would you make of a Mike Pence 2012 campaign?"

Now we are all being asked that question.

Last December, in "Why Mike Pence catches conservatives' eyes" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/08/AR2010120805110.html), George Will explained why Pence, who voted against the stimulus bill may be the person to send the Obamas packing.

Will:

"Congress had just passed the stimulus bill (Pence voted no), and Hoosiers were stimulated to anger. Soon the Tea Party would be simmering.

"Five months earlier, on a Friday, TARP had been proposed. The original three-page legislation sought $700 billion instantly, no time for questions; Pence's staff figured the cost would be about a billion dollars a word. On Saturday, Pence announced his opposition but thought the bill would pass the House 434 to 1. On Monday, however, other members started approaching him, almost furtively, 'like a secret society.' A week later, the House rejected TARP, 228 to 205.

"Four days later, the House passed TARP's second, 451-page, pork-swollen iteration, 263 to 171. That weekend, Pence, who voted no, was at a Boy Scout jamboree at the Henry County Fairgrounds. He was approached by a man who had no scout there but wanted to thank Pence for opposing TARP. The man said that although he had lost his job the day before, 'I can get another job but I can't get another country.'

"On Sept. 12, 2009, Pence was invited to address the first national Tea Party event, on the Mall. Coming from his daughter's cross-country meet in Virginia, he parked at his office, walked out of the west front of the Capitol and 'my knees buckled': The Mall was as crowded as the Columbus hallway had been seven months earlier.

"On Nov. 21, 2003, Pence's third year in Congress, the House was about to vote on the Bush administration's proposal to add a prescription drug entitlement to Medicare. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed the day before, Newt Gingrich had excoriated 'obstructionist conservatives' who 'always find reasons to vote no.' Some recalcitrant Republican members, whose reasons for saying no to enlargements of the welfare state are conservatism, were brought to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. for presidential pressure. Pence told the president he was going from the White House to his daughter's 10th birthday party, and he said he opposed the new entitlement because he wanted to be welcome at her 30th, which he might not be if, by deepening the entitlement crisis, he produced higher taxes and a lower standard of living. Early the next morning, Speaker Dennis Hastert disgracefully prolonged the House vote for two hours and 52 minutes, until 5:53 a.m., time enough to separate enough conservatives from their convictions. When Hastert asked Pence what it would take to win his vote, Pence replied: Means-test the entitlement.

"Impossible, said Hastert. Two Republican congressmen who, like Pence, that night stuck to their conviction that America had quite enough unfunded entitlements have risen — Pennsylvania's Sen.-elect Pat Toomey and South Carolina's Sen. Jim DeMint.

"To those who say conservatives should set aside social issues and stress only economic ones, Pence replies: Economic problems are urgent, but social problems remain important in a way that blurs the distinction between social and economic issues. With the fluency of a former talk radio host, he says: 'You would not be able to print enough money in a thousand years to pay for the government you would need if the traditional family continues to collapse.' This is, he says, 'Moynihan writ large,' referring to the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan's preoccupation with out-of-wedlock births, which now are 41 percent of all American births."

Will Pence be the next James Garfield (the only President elected directly from the House of Representatives)?

The Huffington Post recently focused on the effort to get Pence to run for the Republican presidential nomination: "Mike Pence Urged to Make 2012 Presidential Run" (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/17/mike-pence-president-2012_n_809943.html)

Huffington Post:

"An independent campaign to draw GOP Rep. Mike Pence into the 2012 presidential race is under way, with a veteran of the Reagan White House launching a petition drive on Monday urging him to enter the primary contests.

"Ralph Benko, a deputy counsel to Ronald Reagan, announced the America's President Committee to encourage a Pence-for-president bid. Former Rep. Jim Ryun, R-Kan., is also helping the campaign to collect signatures from conservatives and tea party activists.

"'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. 'Mike Pence is the best choice to lead us into a new era of peace and prosperity.'"

This year Pence stepped down from his post in the House Republican leadership. He's considering running for governor of Indiana as well as President of the United States and said he'd decide before the end of this month.

President Obama, who surprisingly carried Indiana in 2008, may be fortunate if Pence opts to run for governor. The better known Republican presidential hopefuls may be easier to beat.

Last fall Pence won the Value Voters Summit straw poll. See Matt Lewis, "'Values Voters' Pick Rep. Mike Pence for President in Straw Poll" (www.politicsdaily.com/2010/09/18/values-voters-pick-mike-pence-for-president/).

The pro-Obama ABC opined the "[t]he low-profile Republican congressman could be a strong presidential candidate" (http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/video/mike-pence-president-2012-presidential-race-candidate-gop-republican-congresman straw-poll-palin-11674258).

Trevor Francis, GOP strategist and former Republican National Committee spokesman. "If Pence has national aspirations, the most conventional route would be to run for governor in 2012, demonstrate his ability to lead as an executive and make his record as a conservative problem-solver in Indiana the centerpiece of a presidential run down the road."

That's the conventional wisdom. But Obama was elected President with no executive experience and less legislative experience than Pence has. And "the fierce of urgency of now" to which candidate Obama referred in 2008 really exists now.

James Bopp, leading social conservative activist and attorney: "Every facet of the conservative movement can, without hesitation, support [Pence]. Whether it's the tea party or social conservatives or economic conservatives or foreign policy conservatives, no one has any reservations about him, and that is unlike any other candidate. There's no criteria for being a candidate that he lacks."

See http://nationaljournal.com/politics/hoosier-dreams-should-mike-pence-run-for-president-or-governor-of-indiana — 20110124?page=2

Pence does not yet have the money to support a presidential campaign available to Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin, but he doesn't have their problems, or the problems of other better known possibilities, and unless talk show host Laura Ingraham decides to run, former talk show host Pence would be the credible conservative in the race for the Republican presidential nomination and a worthy replacement for the community organizer in the White House.

© Michael Gaynor

 

The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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Michael Gaynor

Michael J. Gaynor has been practicing law in New York since 1973. A former partner at Fulton, Duncombe & Rowe and Gaynor & Bass, he is a solo practitioner admitted to practice in New York state and federal courts and an Association of the Bar of the City of New York member... (more)

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