I know, I know. This is likely one of umpteen articles you’ll encounter on this subject, but it’s from the Wall Street Journal so I figure it warrants mentioning. Though Mike Pence is now considered by many to have a firm grip on the 2012 Indiana Governor’s race should he choose to enter, some speculate he may not be such a longshot to earn the GOP nomination for President.
A former radio personality, the 51-year-old Mr. Pence became a darling among fiscal conservatives for opposing two of President George W. Bush’s signature initiatives, the 2001 No Child Left Behind education act and the 2003 Medicare Part D drug benefit. He saw both as violating his party’s small-government principles.
Mr. Pence favors reducing the size of the federal government, and even the power of the presidency. He wants to amend the Constitution both to ban abortions and to allow marriage only between men and women. He says increased security along the Mexican border must precede any immigration overhaul.
Mr. Pence was also among the first congressmen to jump on the tea-party wave in early 2009, speaking at rallies across Indiana and in Washington.
It was his speech at the Values Voter Summit, a marquee annual event among social conservative groups, which did the most to rouse support. The speech, with its calls to ban all federal abortion funding and stem-cell research, drew standing ovations and chants of "President Pence."
When summit attendees cast ballots in a straw poll for president, Mr. Pence came in first, ahead of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and others.
For many conservatives, Mr. Pence holds much the same allure that Mr. Huckabee did in the 2008 campaign. Mr. Huckabee tapped into support from home-schoolers and evangelicals to pull off a surprise win in the Iowa caucus, though could never catch Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.), the eventual nominee.
"The big question with Huckabee is whether he can raise enough money to be a real contender in 2012," says Tom Minnery, head of public policy for Focus on the Family. As a fresher face, he says, Mr. Pence "is someone who could generate a lot of enthusiasm" in Iowa and other early nominating states and possibly show more durability in the long presidential campaign.
The Indiana lawmaker, who first won election to Congress in 2000, also has the backing of budget hawks such as Chris Chocola, a former Indiana congressman who is now president of the fiscally conservative Club for Growth. "Mike has the retail appeal of Huckabee but is an across-the-board conservative with all the credentials. There is no one else like that," says Mr. Chocola.
Feeding speculation about his presidential ambitions, Mr. Pence has visited Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina in the past year, all states with early roles in the nominating process. And yet Mr. Pence and others in his camp continue to drop hints that he’s shying from a White House run. The thought of a presidential campaign, Mr. Pence said in an interview, "is more humbling than tempting."He says he’s weary of Washington. "I prefer the Flat Rock River to the Potomac River, and the Flat Rock is about a half a block from my house," he said.