Former Vice President Mike Pence may be laying the groundwork for a 2024 presidential run, or he may be working to bring the Republican Party together to a new post-Donald Trump synthesis, or he may be solidifying his legacy. Whatever his ultimate goal, Pence is making some big moves.
On Wednesday, Mike Pence launched the Advancing American Freedom (AAF) advocacy group, designed to merge traditional conservatism with Trumpism, The Washington Examiner reported. AAF will seek to defend the Trump-Pence administration’s record while building what aides described as a “winning formula for a broader coalition.”
The Washington Examiner‘s Byron York noted that AAF seems focused on building a “post-Trump synthesis.”
The organization’s board includes longtime conservative leaders and Trump-Pence veterans, including former House Speaker Newt Gingrich; Gov. Doug Ducey (R-Ariz.); former Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wisc.); Heritage Foundation Founder Ed Fuelner; Trump aide Kellyanne Conway; top Trump economic advisor Larry Kudlow; Trump OMB Director Russ Vought; Reagan Attorney General Ed Meese; Club for Growth President David McIntosh; former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.); and others. Pence recruited Paul Teller — former chief of staff to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), former executive director of the Republican Study Committee, and a deputy assistant to then-President Trump — to serve as AAF’s executive director.
York noted that “it is not hard to see them on a Pence for President committee.”
Yet another piece of news puts a wrinkle into the claim that Pence is laying the groundwork for a 2024 White House run. Not only did the former VP assemble that tremendous team of conservatives, but he also got his former boss on board.
“It was the most successful first term in American history,” Trump told the Examiner. “Nice to see Mike highlighting some of our many achievements!”
AAF represents the culmination of a few key Pence moves. In February, the former VP joined the Heritage Foundation as a distinguished visiting fellow and he joined Young America’s Foundation as the Ronald Reagan Presidential Scholar.
Also on Wednesday, CNN reported that Mike Pence had signed a multi-million-dollar book deal with Simon & Schuster.
Whether or not Pence aims to run for president in 2024, he is assembling a movement, building a platform for his ideas, and penning two books guaranteed to be best-sellers.
Byron York argued that “a Trump run in 2024 is highly, highly unlikely, and Pence and all those Republicans preparing to run will have to do the work of creating a new Republican Party while Trump is being Trump. There will be a fine line to walk between acknowledging Trump’s accomplishments and their debt to him, and creating a Republican agenda going forward. It will be a difficult job, but somebody will figure out how to do it.”
I wouldn’t be so sure Trump won’t throw his hat in the ring once again, but if he doesn’t, Pence is certainly on the shortlist for the 2024 GOP nomination, and these moves would bolster that position. Whatever Trump decides and however 2024 shakes out, Pence will have bolstered the conservative movement in the meantime. Building up the conservative movement is quite a legacy, whether it leads to the White House or not.