It’s official: Mike Pence is about to visit South Carolina.
According to insiders, Pence is returning to the campaign trail as rumors around a 2024 presidential run begin to swirl.
What’s particularly interesting is that Pence’s first event was announced shortly after it was revealed that Trump would be bringing back his signature MAGA rallies.
Is it coincidence?
Or is this a clear sign that Pence likely intends to run in 2024?
Here are the facts:
NEW – Former Vice President Mike Pence returns to the campaign trail this week with his eyes on the Republican nomination in 2024 (Business Insider) pic.twitter.com/eFdVtEQgQn
— Disclose.tv 🚨 (@disclosetv) April 29, 2021
NPR is trying to say that Pence/Haley 2024 is the GOP's best option.
— Gen Z Populist (@PopulistZoomer) April 27, 2021
I see ppl saying that Pence's career is beyond over. This would be the third time that assessment's been made over his career … a thread based on my deep dive out today: https://t.co/j79Aj6eYtI
— Tom LoBianco (@tomlobianco) April 28, 2021
South Carolina might not be a crucial swing state in the general election.
But it is certainly an important state in the Republican presidential primaries.
CNN confirms that Pence has reemerged in South Carolina ahead of a potential 2024 decision:
When Mike Pence underwent heart surgery earlier this month, he had alerted only a few family members and aides beforehand. Several onetime Pence aides were caught off guard when he released a statement that after experiencing “symptoms associated with a slow heart rate” for two weeks, the former vice president had a pacemaker implanted at a Virginia hospital.
Even Donald Trump only learned of the surgery from media reports, according to two people familiar with the matter. The former President later called Pence to wish him a speedy recovery, both people said.
The episode is emblematic of the challenge Pence faces as he reemerges onto the political scene with a series of events in South Carolina on Thursday, including his first public speech since leaving office. The former vice president is figuring out how to channel his complicated relationship with Trump into his own distinct political brand.
“For Trump administration officials and especially Vice President Pence, there will be lots of needle-threading,” said David Kochel, a Republican strategist and veteran of presidential campaigns. “He’ll want all the benefits of his loyalty to Trump while standing up his own political brand independent of the former president.”
That will require Pence distinguishing himself from Trump when necessary while still aligning himself with the Trump administration achievements that are most popular with the Republican base. Pence is not alone in searching for that balance. It’s a dynamic confronting other potential 2024 contenders, including Trump administration officials such as former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Nikki Haley, the former US Ambassador to the United Nations.
The relationship between the two Republican leaders has remained cordial but strained since January — when the then-vice president bucked Trump’s desire to block the counting of the electoral votes and was faced with the threat of a violent mob storming the US Capitol.
After both men left office on January 20, they have spoken at least once a month on the phone, including a call from Trump in March to congratulate Pence on the birth of his first grandchild. But unlike other GOP leaders who have made the trek to Mar-a-Lago, Pence (who is splitting his time between Indiana and the Washington area) has not met with Trump in person since the former President departed permanently for Florida.
Pence has an opportunity to set himself apart in his Thursday night address to the Palmetto Family Council in Columbia, South Carolina — his first public speech since leaving office and the start of an expansion of Pence’s political activity.
In his speech, Pence is expected to tout the policy accomplishments of the Trump administration and draw contrasts with the Biden administration, according to two people familiar with the former vice president’s plans.
The speech will cap off a full day for Pence in the early primary state, which includes a tour of a medical school in Spartanburg and a meeting with pastors in Columbia.
The timing of his post-2020 debut is intentional, said the person familiar with Pence’s plans, coming on Joe Biden’s 100th day in office and one day after the President’s first joint address to Congress. It marks the end of a period of strategic silence Pence has afforded to the new administration, and gives him a chance to react and respond to Biden’s address.
Pence’s choice of venue is also no accident. The Palmetto Family Council touts itself as a pro-family advocacy group with a mission to “persuasively present biblical principles in the centers of influence on issues affecting the family through research, communication, and networking.” The group lobbies in South Carolina for issues like limiting abortion rights, protecting home schooling, restricting gambling and opposing drug legalization.
The group represents important parts of Pence’s social conservative base within the Republican Party. The two people familiar with his speech say he’ll likely tout the Trump administration’s record on nominating conservative judges to the federal judiciary and repeat the claim that theirs was the “most pro-life administration” in history.
“He speaks to that crowd very well. His issues resonate with those voters better than anybody’s,” said André Bauer, the former lieutenant governor of South Carolina, who told CNN he plans to attend the speech in Columbia.
With its early state status, South Carolina is an important place to plant seeds for a potential future White House campaign by Pence. He has already assembled a group of allies there, including Bauer and the former state GOP chair, Chip Saltsman.
Reports of Pence visiting South Carolina come at a time when Trump has publicly considered running with Ron DeSantis in 2024.
Perhaps the timing of Pence’s South Carolina visit is more than just mere coincidence.
However, if early social media responses are any indicator, it appears that most Trump voters would stick with Trump in a primary match-up.
Nikki Haley, Pence and Lynn Cheney have ZERO chance to make it to the primaries for the 2024 Presidential run.. 😂😂😂
— 🇺🇸ProudArmyBrat (@leslibless) April 28, 2021
Be wary of any people, media or accounts who push Pence, Cheney, Christie, Flake, Romney, Hailey or any other imaginary RINO 2024 candidate. Pushing them is a strategy to undermine patriots in the fight to take our country back. 🇺🇸
— 🇺🇸Maggie VandenBerghe🇺🇸 (@FogCityMidge) April 29, 2021
Mike Pence lacked a spine.
Kamala Harris lacks a soul.
If we make it to 2024 hopefully we can elect a Conservative VP who has both.🙅🏾
— Lavern Spicer (@lavern_spicer) April 27, 2021
The potential 2024 run has certainly gotten the attention of the media.
NBC has also dedicated extensive coverage to Pence’s visit:
Former Vice President Mike Pence will deliver his first public address since leaving office at the Palmetto Family Council Annual Gala in Columbia, South Carolina, on Thursday, marking his foray back into the public square in a critical presidential nominating state and in front of a gathering of evangelical voters he has long counted as part of his political base.
The address gives Pence an opportunity to highlight what conservatives see as the best of the previous administration’s record and position himself for the beginning of a potential presidential campaign in 2024.
In his remarks, Pence is expected to criticize President Joe Biden’s first 100 days in office as drastically different than what he campaigned on in 2020, according to a source familiar with Pence’s thinking, a line of attack echoing complaints from other Republicans in recent days.
Now that Biden has reached the traditional benchmark, Pence will use it to contrast Biden’s first 100 days with what he will bill as the accomplishments of former President Trump’s first 100 days, the source added.
Pence will also speak to the current political moment, the source said, as one conservatives have been in before, in 2009 and in the 1990s, and highlight how the way to push ahead is to unify around a positive policy agenda that’s rooted in conservative principles.
Pence’s speech is also expected to highlight the agenda of his new political advocacy group, Advancing American Freedom. And his remarks will reflect on his own Christian faith and touch on areas where he shares values with the host organization, the Palmetto Family Council — a conservative nonprofit that advocates religious liberty.
Thursday’s speech will also be a kickoff to more travel and a higher public presence for Pence. He will now be taking at least one or two trips a week, the source said, with a focus on efforts related to his partnerships with the Heritage Foundation and Young America’s Foundation. His trips will also seek to help political allies, especially in boosting Republicans to take back the House and Senate.
Heading to South Carolina today to deliver remarks to the Palmetto Family Council on the Conservative values that have made America great!
Tune in back here at 7:00PM EST to watch live.
— Mike Pence (@Mike_Pence) April 29, 2021
Would you support Mike Pence for President in 2024?
Why or why not?
What about for Trump’s vice president?
Let us know in the comments section below!