The interest in a presidential run that Indiana Gov. Mike Pence is quietly showing his party is becoming mutual, with key Republicans eyeing him as a potential uniter of the fractious party, The Washington Post reports
As the first-term governor makes telltale appearances at national, presidential-caliber events, GOP insiders "have begun talking up Pence as an under the radar standard-bearer who could return the party to the White House," the Post said.
"If Mike got in the race, I'd probably endorse him immediately," former House Republican Leader Richard K. Armey of Texas told the Post, comparing Pence'’s political appeal to that of Ronald Reagan.
Pence told "Fox News Sunday" last month that his home state of Indiana occupies all of his attention.
"Let me be honest with you, I'm always humbled and flattered anytime I'm mentioned for the highest office in the land," he said
, observing that the presidential buzz reflects "the progress the people of Indiana have been making" during his tenure.
But in talking to the Post, Pence allowed that he might be more than simply humbled by the consideration. "In the last few months, people have reached out," he said. "I’m listening."
Pence, 54, is a former radio talk-show host and three-term congressman known for his free market brand of conservatism. As governor, he's overseen tax cuts and an improving economy that have made Indiana the envy of other states, and also has been a skeptical voice on Common Core educational standards.
Lately, he’s been sitting down with influential Republicans who represent the party’s thinking on a variety of issues.
"Pence could bridge really every group — the social conservatives, the fiscal conservatives, the foreign policy conservatives," Club for Growth President Chris Chocola told the Post.
A crowded, unsettled field of would-be GOP candidates offers Pence both risks and rewards — a tall fundraising challenge but also a real chance to emerge from the scrum.
"I think people around the country will like him the more they get to know him," said former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour.
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