The Washington Post reports that Mike Pence and his allies are gearing up for a possible run at the presidency in 2024. According to the Post, Pence’s friends and advisers say he’s likely to run for president, especially if Donald Trump doesn’t.
Accordingly, Pence is “taking all the traditional steps to position himself for a. . .presidential bid.” He’s “hopscotching the country giving six-figure speeches, sitting down for interviews with friendly conservative media outlets, and hosting fundraisers for Republican causes.”
One potential problem for Pence is that he refused, in his Senate role, to do Trump’s bidding when it came to blocking Joe Biden from becoming president. Some of Trump’s most ardent supporters consider Pence a turncoat because of that refusal.
Pence calls January 6 “a dark day at the Capitol” and says his focus is “entirely on the future.” This stands is contrast to Trump, who in his various interviews seems focused largely on the past.
In my view, Pence’s actions on January 6 count in his favor.
The Post reports that Pence wants “credit for what he sees as the good of the Trump administration.” This raises the question of whether Pence influenced that administration and, if so, in what ways.
There’s no doubt that Pence influenced the administration. Trump entered office with very little knowledge of the Republican Party. Not all that long before, he had been a Democrat.
Pence, a Republican insider, was there to help guide Trump when it came to selecting key personnel like White House chief of staff and the Cabinet. Pence wasn’t responsible for all of these selections — Trump took advice from other sources, too. But Pence was probably the most influential, and it was thanks in part to him that Trump imported the GOP establishment into his administration.
In my view, and eventually in Trump’s, many of those thus imported were sub-optimal selections, to put it gently. For example: Reince Priebus for chief of staff, Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State, Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education, and Alex Acosta for Secretary of Labor.
Not all of these sub-optimal selections were at Pence’s recommendations, but some were. It’s my understanding that Betsy DeVos was.
An ally of Jeb Bush, DeVos was considered a supporter of Common Core. (She denounced Common Core once in office and claimed to have ended it, but did not.) As governor of Indiana, Pence himself was disappointing from a conservative perspective on Common Core.
The record of DeVos and other top officials appointed at the outset of the Trump administration is mixed. Without getting into specifics at this time, many key appointees were less aggressive than I had hoped in overturning leftist polices and implementing conservative ones. Alex Acosta was downright resistant, as I showed in a series of posts.
Towards the end of his administration, Trump’s “drain the swamp” effort picked up steam. But this was after most of those who initially staffed the top positions were gone.
I like Mike Pence and believe he would make a good president. However, if he runs for that office, it will be fair to ask about his staffing recommendations in the early days of the Trump administration and to scrutinize the records of the people who gained positions in the administration thanks in part to Pence.
Other than Trump and Pence, Ron DeSantis is the name we hear most commonly as a possible 2024 GOP candidate. DeSantis and Pence have both served as governors. In deciding which of the two would be a better president, it’s reasonable to compare their records as governor — allowing for the fact that they held the office at different times. For me, the question will be which man governed his state more effectively and more conservatively.