A new group has launched a website attempting to collect signatures urging Rep. Mike Pence to run for president.
There are a few factors driving talk of a Pence presidential run. A regular speaker at tea parties, Pence is one of a small number of elected Republicans with an appeal to economic, social and national security conservatives. During the Bush years, he wasn't cowed into going along with the administration's big government agenda, voting against both the Medicare prescription drug plan and No Child Left Behind. Last fall, the presidential talk got a boost when he won the straw poll at the Value Voters' summit, surprising many who assumed that Mike Huckabee had it in the bag. If Pence has any ambition of seeking the presidency, this may be the best time to do it given the wide-openness of the GOP field. Mitt Romney is the closest thing to a frontrunner, and yet he's incredibly vulnerable on a number of key issues. By 2016, several potentially strong candidates who don't have plans to run this time (Govs. Chris Christie and Bobby Jindal) will have matured.
With all of that said, Pence would have an uphill battle were he to seek the presidency. Americans tend to elect presidents who have prior executive experience, such as being governor. Barack Obama himself was the first Senator elected president since John F. Kennedy in 1960. But electing House member is rarer still. The only sitting House member to be elected president was James Garfield in 1881 -- so long ago that the comparison doesn't have any real relevance for Pence. It would take a lot to convince people outside Pence's circle of admirers that he's ready to take the jump at a time when the nation is facing mounting challenges. True, Obama had very little experience when he was elected. But look at the results. It'll be hard to argue, on one hand, that Obama's inexperience cost us dearly, and on the other hand, that we need to elect somebody inexperienced to replace him.
Pence may choose to forgo the presidential bid and run for governor of Indiana instead, where Mitch Daniels' term ends in 2012. He could also be a potential vice president pick if whoever gets nominated needs a credibility boost among conservatives.
The new draft Pence group, called America's President Committee, is run by conservative activist Ralph Benko and former Kansas congressman Jim Ryun.
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