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Former Vice President Mike Pence (R) has launched a political advocacy group that seeks to merge traditional conservative thinking with Trumpism, fueling speculation that he may be eyeing a bid for the nation’s highest office in 2024.
The group, Advancing American Freedom, seeks to develop a “winning formula for a broader coalition,” merging the types of socially conservative values for which Pence is best known — including opposition to abortion and LGBTQ rights — with Donald Trump’s more populist-flavored military, economic, and trade policies.
“Advancing American Freedom plans to build on the success of the last four years by promoting traditional conservative values and promoting the successful policies of the Trump administration,” Pence told the Washington Examiner in a statement. “Conservatives will not stand idly by as the radical left and the new administration attempt to threaten America’s standing as the greatest nation in the world with their destructive policies.”
“There’s no doubt when the vice president joined the ticket in 2016, there was a whole new voter that Donald Trump brought in with his focus on China and trade, and he won over a lot of blue-collar votes in the Midwest,” a Pence aide told the Examiner. “This organization will focus on those winning policies that were at the center of that fusion between traditional conservativism and Trumpism.”
The D.C.-based group’s advisory board includes several figures from the Trump White House, including former Senior Counselor Kellyanne Conway and Larry Kudlow, the former director of the U.S. National Economic Council, as well as figures from the broader conservative movement, such as David McIntosh, the president of the Club for Growth, former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), and former Ambassador to Israel David Friedman.
The venture has already received the blessing of Trump himself, who told the Examiner he was happy to see Pence highlighting achievements from what he called “the most successful first term in American history.”
Since leaving office, Pence has deliberately tried to stay involved in politics, joining the conservative Young America’s Foundation and taking on a role as a distinguished fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.
But his most recent moves have increased speculation that the former vice president will pursue a 2024 bid for the presidency, as he is slated to give a public speech at the Palmetto Family Council’s annual fundraiser at the end of the month — in South Carolina, a key early primary state.
Advancing American Freedom will focus on three pillars: strength and security, including immigration, Israel and Middle East peace, and anti-terrorism; prosperity, including rebuilding the economy, energy exploration, tax cuts, and pushing further deregulation; and liberty, including opposition to abortion, school choice, and “religious freedom” protections.
The group will also serve as a key voice of opposition to President Biden’s various policies — which could shine an additional spotlight on Pence, putting him in an enviable position to become the frontrunner for the GOP nomination, although aides dispute the notion that the group is merely a front for Pence’s presidential ambitions.
“Now, we are in a period where the Biden administration in two and half months have really just abandoned the policies that led to so much prosperity in the past four years, and it’s time for him to reemerge and be the voice to take on those policies,” another Pence aide said.
In speaking with the Examiner, Conway had nothing but praise for Pence, saying he is an ideal person to lead the organization.
“I’ve worked alongside Mike Pence for 12 years in an official capacity but have known him for decades,” she said. “He has the heart of a servant and the mind of a policy wonk and through this issue advocacy group wants to ensure that the promise of America belongs to each and every one of us.”
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