by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Aides shrug off questions about 2024, but with a list of advisory board members that reads like backers, former Vice President Mike Pence’s new political group looks like a bid to position himself as Trumpism’s heir apparent and for a White House run.
Advancing American Freedom’s advisory board includes Trump administration alumni such as Kellyanne Conway, former Office of Management and Budget Director Russ Vought, and Trade Representative Bob Lighthizer, along with luminaries of the conservative movement such as Jim DeMint and David McIntosh.
“It’s going to promote the policies of the last four years and defend them from attack from the radical left and distortions from the media,” an aide said.
But as possible candidates begin jockeying for the Republican nomination for 2024, it also marks Pence’s return to the political limelight after keeping a low profile since a pro-Trump mob marched through the U.S. Capitol chanting “Hang Mike Pence.”
“It looks like Pence and his tight-knit team think there’s still a path for him to win the Republican nomination in 2024, even just three months after he was targeted by Trump’s supporters in the Jan. 6 attack,” said Tom LoBianco, Pence biographer and reporter with Business Insider.
“The two big questions for Pence are really the same question every other would-be contender faces right now: Will the Republican Party base respond to someone who’s not Trump? And, more pressing, will Trump run again in 2024?.”
Hours after the launch of his political group, publisher Simon & Schuster announced it will publish Pence’s autobiography in 2023 as part of a two-book deal.
So, when Pence makes his next speech later this month, it will be seen as the next step along a choreographed path leading to the 2024 election.
Associates insist there is a long way to go.