Don’t count Mike Pence out of the 2016 race just yet

November 20, 2013
Indiana Republican gubernatorial candidate Mike Pence, middle, and his wife, Karen, right, talk with locals in Gas City, Ind., on Oct. 3.
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) and his wife, Karen, right,  in Gas City, Ind., on Oct. 3.  (Jeff Morehead/AP)

PHOENIX — Is Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) running for president? One of the closest observers of Hoosier State politics says no. Last week, Brian Howey, publisher of Howey Politics Indiana, wrote that a senior Pence adviser told him Pence was fundraising exclusively for his reelection bid, rather than piling up federal funds for a presidential race.

“He will seek a second term,” the source told Howey.

Proof?

“I don’t believe I was quoted in that story,” Pence said Wednesday while attending the Republican Governors Association’s annual meeting here. “What I can tell you on the record is I haven’t spent one second thinking about any other job than the one I got elected to do in 2012.”

Pence, the former House Republican Conference chairman and conservative favorite who briefly considered running in 2012 before ultimately deciding to run for governor, said he wanted to see a broader vision for the Republican agenda among candidates in 2016.

“The cure for what ails this country is going to come more from our nation’s state capitals than it ever will from our nation’s capital,” Pence said in an interview. “The states are just better suited to solve the intractable problems that are facing this country than Washington ever will be. And the answer going forward, then, and I say this to Republicans every chance I get: The Republican agenda cannot simply be to cut spending in Washington, D.C. I think Republicans must make it our aim to permanently reduce the size and scope of the federal government.”

“When I look at 2016, and I don’t have a candidate that I’m backing, I’m going to be looking not for somebody that says I want to go to Washington, D.C., and run it like I ran where I came from. I want somebody that says I’m going to go to Washington, D.C., and make it more possible for the next person running where I came from to do it with more freedom and flexibility,” he went on.

That doesn’t sound like someone willing to publicly snuff out his 2016 chances quite yet.

Reid Wilson covers state politics and policy for the Washington Post's GovBeat blog. He's a former editor in chief of The Hotline, the premier tip sheet on campaigns and elections, and he's a complete political junkie.
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Niraj Chokshi | November 20, 2013