Former Vice President Mike Pence (R) is reportedly laying the groundwork for a run for the presidency in 2024.
Pence, the former Indiana governor best known for his fierce opposition to LGBTQ rights, is gathering support among religious right leaders and organizations to serve as the bulwark for his campaign.
“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-IN) told the Associated Press. “If and when Mike Pence steps back up to the plate, I think he will have strong appeal among Republicans nationwide.”
Banks chairs the conservative Republican Study Committee and has already endorsed a potential Pence campaign.
Pence has a long history of associating with religious right organizations that promote far-right ideology and was hired by the Heritage Foundation, an anti-LGBTQ think tank. The organization had a huge presence in the Trump administration, manipulating policies from the behind-the-scenes.
But Pence lost his luster with supporters of former President Donald Trump who blame him for observing his constitutional duties during a presidential transition. Trump has also publicly blamed Pence without reason.
On a recent podcast, Trump was asked to name the leading stars of the Republican party and actively avoided mentioning Pence.
The men have not had a close relationship since Trump supporters stormed the Capitol building demanding Pence overturn the election. Others called for Pence to be hanged. Trump defended the insurrectionists instead of his Vice President.
But can Pence pull it off?
“Anybody who can pull off an endorsement of Ted Cruz and become Donald Trump’s vice presidential nominee should not be counted out,” Republican strategist Alice Stewart told the AP. “He has a way of splitting hairs and threading the needle that has paid off in the past.”
Pence will address a far-right anti-LGBTQ group in his first speech since leaving office. The organization has close ties to hate groups.