Politics Foreign Affairs Culture

What About Pence?

There is no reason for anyone in the GOP to choose him over the alternatives.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence is flirting with the idea of a presidential run:

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence has strong ideas about what the next Republican presidential nominee should be like.

A “solutions conservative” with a record of policy reform originating in the states. A candidate versed in foreign affairs who envisions a muscular role for the United States in the world. And someone who is “relentlessly optimistic” — and capable of attracting new voters to the Republican Party as Ronald Reagan did a generation ago.

Pence is plausible enough, but what would he offer that the others can’t? It’s true that he has a better voting record from his time in Congress than a lot of his former Congressional colleagues from the Bush years. Unlike many others in the party, he voted against some of the Bush administration’s expansions of government. He voted no on the Medicare Part D legislation that the Republican leadership forced through, and he later voted against the TARP bill. That does give him a certain credibility on fiscal responsibility that most of the other would-be 2016 candidates lack. His immigration position isn’t as bad as Rubio’s or Bush’s, but it would probably be something of a liability in a nomination contest. His foreign policy views are predictably lousy, but that is hardly unique to him.

Even before he was governor, Pence was talked up as a presidential candidate. George Will floated his name early on in the last election cycle, and listed many of the same reasons for why some conservatives were interested in a Pence campaign. Because he was still a House member back then, he was very long shot for the nomination. Now that he is serving his first term as governor, he would have a better chance of being taken seriously as a contender. However, he doesn’t have the national recognition of some of the other Republican Midwestern governors that he would probably be running against, and he doesn’t have anything recent that distinguishes him from the rest of the field. Pence would probably be acceptable to most Republican voters once they know something about him, but relative to a lot of the other 2016 candidates almost no one outside his home state knows anything about him. He would be an unexciting consensus candidate for Republicans, but there doesn’t seem to be any compelling reason for anyone in the GOP to choose him over the alternatives.



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