Former Vice President Mike Pence is spurring talk of a potential presidential campaign with a travel schedule dotted with key states along the road to the White House.
Pence spoke in South Carolina last week in his first major public appearance since leaving office.
Next month, Pence will be at a New Hampshire event when he headlines the Hillsborough County GOP’s Lincoln Reagan awards dinner on June 3, according to Fox News.
New Hampshire and South Carolina are among the first states to hold presidential primaries, meaning results there can make or break a candidacy.
Pence also made a stop in Texas last week, at a private event attended by several Republicans considered 2024 candidates, including former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and three senators — Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Marco Rubio of Florida, and Tim Scott of South Carolina.
The future was on the mind of some who heard Pence last week in South Carolina.
“I said to my husband, ‘Did you think this was a trial run for a campaign speech?’” said Beth Atwater, an attorney from Lexington, South Carolina, according to USA Today.
In the speech, Pence called himself “a Christian, a conservative and a Republican — in that order.”
“We’ve got to guard our values … by offering a positive agenda to the American people, grounded in our highest ideals,” he said.
Pence also attacked the Biden administration, according to CNN.
“The Biden-Harris administration has launched an avalanche of liberal policies that have threatened to derail all the progress that we made for a safer, more prosperous, more secure America,” Pence said.
Tim Miller, a former Republican political strategist, said the issue for Pence is that the former Indiana governor has “a base of support with evangelicals, which is better than most have, but can he expand out of that?,” according to USA Today.
Miller noted that one question that looms large over the future is how supporters of former President Donald Trump react to Pence, assuming Trump himself does not run.
Trump has kept alive the possibility of a 2024 run, but has not said for certain whether he will or will not run.
André Bauer, a former lieutenant governor of South Carolina, said Pence is focusing on the issues that mean the most to him.
“He’s getting back out of the shadows of being VP and getting back into being a leader on conservative issues, particularly social issues,” he said. “That’s where his heart is.”
“We’ll defend religious liberty and the sanctity of life. And it will be our movement that’s the vanguard of the freedom of expression. A movement that cherishes our heritage, our history, and our steady march toward a more perfect union. We will stand with the right of every American of every faith to live, to work, to speak, and to worship according to the dictates of their conscience,” Pence wrote.
“We will reject critical race theory in our schools, in our public universities, and we will cancel culture wherever it arises. That’s an agenda that’ll win. That’s an agenda that’ll win back America. And it’s a positive agenda in these divided times that each and every one of us needs to take to our neighbors and friends.”