Pence eyes 2024 campaign launch next week

(The Hill) – Former Vice President Mike Pence is likely to announce next week that he is running for president in 2024, according to a source familiar with the plans.

The source said Pence’s team is finalizing plans to launch his campaign for the White House, joining the expanding GOP primary field with a forward-looking announcement that makes the case for his candidacy. The former vice president is expected to put much of his focus on Iowa, which hosts the first caucus on the GOP primary calendar.

Pence is scheduled to participate in a CNN town hall in Iowa June 7 — an event that was billed in one release as a “Presidential Town Hall.” Pence will celebrate his 64th birthday the same day.

The former vice president was also originally scheduled to speak to the Georgia Republican Party at a June 9 event. But the party alerted supporters Wednesday that Pence “has been forced to re-schedule because of a televised national town hall at which he will be making an announcement regarding his future plans,” in a message first reported by The Atlanta Journal Constitution.

A spokesperson for Pence did not respond to a request for comment.

“We’re continuing to talk to people around the country and getting a lot of encouragement around the country,” Pence said in a recent appearance on Fox Business Network with Larry Kudlow.

“But look, I think this country is in a lot of trouble,” he added. “I think all of us that have the ability to make a difference have a responsibility to reflect on what role we might play.”

The Messenger reported Wednesday that Pence plans to launch his campaign within two weeks.

Pence has signaled for months that he was likely to get into the 2024 race, visiting Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina frequently, speaking at Republican dinners and think tanks, and laying out detailed policy views on entitlements, foreign policy and energy.

A super PAC backing Pence as a 2024 presidential candidate launched earlier this month, giving the former vice president additional firepower as he readies his campaign. The group, Committed to America, is led by former Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) and veteran GOP consultant Scott Reed as national co-chairs.

But he faces an uphill battle as he enters the race. A CNN poll released last week found Pence was the first choice of 6% of Republican and Republican-leaning primary voters, trailing former President Trump, who was the first choice of 53% of voters, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), who was the first choice of 26%.

The poll also found 54% of those surveyed said they support or would consider supporting Pence.

For Pence to win the nomination, he will have to overtake Trump, his old running mate. Pence was unflinchingly loyal to Trump throughout their four years in office together, defending the former president through myriad controversies.

But the relationship between the two men fractured after the events of Jan. 6, 2021, when rioters stormed the Capitol, putting Pence and other lawmakers in danger. Trump tweeted that afternoon that Pence did not have the “courage” to reject the 2020 election results, despite Pence stating that he did not have the Constitutional authority to do so.

In remarks to GOP leaders and voters in recent months, Pence has sought to walk a fine line, simultaneously touting the policy gains of the Trump administration while defending his actions on Jan. 6 and criticizing the former president for his conduct that day.

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