Former Vice President Mike Pence has launched a new political advocacy organization that will combine the “Make America Great Again” philosophy with traditional conservatism in what some see as another indication he is considering a bid for the 2024 GOP nomination.
The group, Advancing American Freedom, will tout the Trump-Pence record of achievements while devising a “winning formula for a broader coalition,” according to aides who spoke to the Washington Examiner.
“Advancing American Freedom plans to build on the success of the last four years by promoting traditional conservative values and promoting the successful policies of the Trump administration,” Pence told the outlet in a statement.
“Conservatives will not stand idly by as the radical left and the new administration attempt to threaten America’s standing as the greatest nation in the world with their destructive policies,” he added.
In a statement of his own to the Examiner, former President Donald Trump gave Pence’s new org his blessing.
“It was the most successful first term in American history. Nice to see Mike highlighting some of our many achievements!” Trump said.
The group’s advisory board also features several familiar faces: Kellyanne Conway, former senior advisor to Trump; Larry Kudlow, one of Trump’s economic advisers; former House Speaker Newt Gingrich; and actor Kirk Cameron.
“I’ve worked alongside Mike Pence for 12 years in an official capacity but have known him for decades,” said Conway. “He has the heart of a servant and the mind of a policy wonk and through this issue advocacy group wants to ensure that the promise of America belongs to each and every one of us.”
It’s unclear at this point if either Trump or Pence is considering a 2024 presidential bid. But Trump voicing his approval for the new organization could be a signal to some that he is preparing to let the younger Pence, 61, take over the reins of the GOP while the former president takes on the role of kingmaker.
In recent weeks, Pence has increasingly looked as though he is laying the groundwork for a White House run. He has joined perhaps the most influential conservative think tank in Washington, D.C., the Heritage Foundation, while also writing op-eds and giving speeches.
The problem, however, could be the impression Pence left millions of Trump’s voters at the end of their term.
As Trump’s legal team failed to convince state legislatures and courts of law to overturn what they argued were illegitimate electoral outcomes in key battleground states, the former president put pressure on Pence to refuse to count them when Congress met in joint session Jan. 6, the same day several hundred supporters stormed the Capitol.
But Pence refused to do so, counting all electoral ballots as they had been certified by the respective states — which angered much of Trump’s base.
Still, some GOP strategists acknowledge that 2024 is still a ways off and that Pence has an innate ability to create consensus.
“Anybody who can pull off an endorsement of Ted Cruz and become Donald Trump’s vice presidential nominee should not be counted out,” GOP strategist Alice Stewart told the Associated Press last month.
“He has a way of splitting hairs and threading the needle that has paid off in the past,” added Stewart, who worked for 2016 presidential contender Sen. Ted Cruz when Pence endorsed him.
“I think 2024’s a long time away and if Mike Pence runs for president he will appeal to the Republican base in a way that will make him a strong contender,” Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), chair of the Republican Study Committee, who has already thrown his support behind a Pence presidential bid, told the AP.
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