Former Vice President Mike Pence is picking up the pace, with a flurry of public events and political activity, as the former vice president prepares for a possible White House bid.
In recent days, Pence traveled to Nebraska to headline the annual “steak fry” hosted by Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts; launched a podcast, American Freedom; delivered remarks at the rededication of a memorial in Indiana to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks; and filed an amicus brief through his political nonprofit group, Advancing American Freedom, asking the Supreme Court to overturn the landmark abortion rights case, Roe v. Wade.
Then, on Tuesday, the former vice president spoke at a memorial service for Marine Cpl. Humberto Sanchez.
Sanchez is from Indiana, where Pence served as governor when former President Donald Trump selected him as his running mate. Sanchez and a dozen fellow service members were killed last month in Afghanistan in a terrorist attack committed by the Jihadist group ISIS-K at the airport in Kabul. The strike targeted U.S. military forces facilitating the evacuation of American citizens and Afghans who were fleeing the Taliban.
“As we told you before the service, we would have been here on the back row just to pray with you because while I had official duties over the last four years, we are Marine Corps parents,” Pence said while speaking from the dais at Sanchez’s memorial.
“So let me say with authority,” the former vice president added. “Karen and I understand the immense pride that you feel, but we cannot comprehend the sense of loss of one so dear to your family and to the Nation. But our family wanted to be here with your family to express our thanks.”
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While in Nebraska a few days earlier, Pence also met in Omaha with the family of Marine Cpl. Daegan Page, killed in Afghanistan in the same terrorist attack that claimed the life of Sanchez.
Pence, 62, is hardly the only Republican eyeing a 2024 presidential bid to fill up his political calendar since President Joe Biden assumed office in January — even as Trump drops hints about mounting a third White House bid. For instance, at the Ricketts steak fry in Nebraska City, Nebraska, right next door to neighboring Iowa, the former vice president was joined by Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
But the moves Pence is making are about more than simple 2024 jockeying.
Subtly, the former vice president is communicating that he does not intend to allow Trump to dictate his political future. Where some ambitious Republicans are suggesting they will stand down if the 45th president seeks to become the 47th, Pence, who for four years was the epitome of the loyal No. 2, might run anyway and is making plans based on all eventualities.
Additionally, the former vice president is hoping to make it abundantly clear to Republicans of all stripes that if Trump is the nominee in 2024, his best choice for a running mate is the same choice he made in 2016. Pence see himself as among the most versatile of any major GOP figure, welcomed in nearly every wing of the party — and especially those factions that are less enamored of Trump than others.
An example of that is the request Pence recently received from Republican Rep. Don Bacon of Nebraska to headline a fundraiser for his 2022 reelection campaign. Biden defeated the Trump-Pence ticket in Bacon’s Omaha-area 2nd Congressional District with a healthy 56.4% of the vote. That did not stop the congressman from requesting the defeated vice president’s assistance.
However, it is unclear Trump would select Pence for the GOP ticket a third time.
He and Pence had a falling out over the former vice president’s refusal to attempt to overturn the 2020 election while presiding over the joint session of Congress that certified Biden’s Electoral College victory. The former president has not forgiven Pence. For his part, the former vice president is unapologetic about his actions on Jan. 6, and he has not shied away from saying so publicly.
Meanwhile, Pence is moving ahead with an aggressive political itinerary, one sure to accelerate even more next year when Republicans are hoping to recapture control of the House and Senate in midterm elections. Over the summer and through the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York City, the Pentagon, and Pennsylvania, Pence:
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- Hosted a retreat in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, for donors to his political nonprofit group, Advancing American Freedom.
- Headlined fundraisers for multiple prominent Republicans, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California and Glenn Youngkin, the party’s nominee for governor in Virginia.
- Traveled to Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina — key early primary states.
On Wednesday, Pence plans to file another amicus brief at the Supreme Court, this time in a case having to do with school choice.