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Former Vice President Mike Pence returns on Wednesday to New Hampshire, the state that for a century has held the first primary in the race for the White House.
While the main mission of the former vice president’s trip is to support fellow Republicans running in the 2022 elections, the visit will ignite more speculation that Pence is starting to gear up for a likely 2024 run for the White House.
Pence will keynote a fundraising event in Manchester for the New Hampshire Senate Republicans. He’ll also headline a Heritage Action “Save Our Paychecks” event, which targets President Biden’s domestic agenda, which the group says is “hurting workers and families across the country.” Heritage Action is the political wing of the Heritage Foundation, one of the oldest and most influential think tanks in the conservative movement, which the former vice president joined as a distinguished visiting fellow earlier this year.
And Pence, during his one-day trip to the Granite State, will also meet and speak with the New Hampshire Home Builders Association.
Mike Pence speaks at the annual Hillsborough County NH GOP Lincoln-Reagan Dinner, Thursday, June 3, 2021, in Manchester, New Hampshire.
(AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
The visit by Pence, which was first reported by Fox News last month, is his second this year in New Hampshire. Pence, who was a loyal right-hand man as vice president under former President Trump, in June keynoted the Hillsborough County GOP’s Lincoln-Reagan Day dinner. He gave a well-received speech that was interrupted numerous times by standing ovations.
Pence, a former congressman and governor of Indiana, has been tireless so far this year in traveling across the country to help the GOP win back majorities in the House and Senate and pick up more governorships in the 2022 elections. And his travels have taken him to the first four states that vote in the race for the White House.
Besides New Hampshire, Pence last month made his second visit this year to Iowa, the state whose caucuses for half a century have kicked off the presidential nominating calendar. Pence also stopped this spring in South Carolina, which votes third in the GOP primary and caucus calendar, and last month in Nevada, which holds the fourth contest.
But it’s not just his travels that are telling. The former vice president in the spring launched the political advocacy group Advancing American Freedom. The organization’s mission, with an eye to 2022 and 2024, is to “promote the pro-freedom polices” of the Trump-Pence administration.
While the former vice president remains mum in public about his political plans, he vowed during a speech last month at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual leadership meeting that “we’re going to win back this country in 2024.”
Former Vice President Mike Pence addresses the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual leadership meeting, on Nov. 6, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Pence is far from the only high-profile Republican mulling a White House bid. And Trump repeatedly flirts with making another presidential run in 2024. But while some of the other potential GOP presidential candidates are suggesting they’ll bow out if Trump runs again, Pence appears to be sending a signal that his 2024 decision won’t be dependent on the former president’s actions.
Starting with a high-profile speech during his June stop in New Hampshire, Pence has highlighted that he knows he did “the right thing” on Jan. 6 in certifying the 2020 presidential election and ignoring Trump’s requests to overturn the Electoral College results. And he emphasized that he did his “duty under the Constitution and the laws of the United States.”
Mike Pence speaks at the National Press Club on Nov. 30, 2021, in Washington.
(Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
And he acknowledged how his once solid relationship with Trump had frayed because of the events on Jan 6, when right-wing extremists and other Trump supporters launched a deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol in an unsuccessful attempt to disrupt congressional certification of Biden’s Electoral College victory. Pence, in comments he’s since repeated, told the audience that “I don’t know if we’ll ever see eye to eye about that day.”
Longtime New Hampshire-based GOP consultant Jim Merrill told Fox News that Pence “is clearly coming here to make friends and to raise his profile. The truth is people know him here, but in the wake of Jan. 6 there a question of what the former president thinks of him.”
“I think he’s here to stake out his own identity and establish his brand to send a message that he’s very serious about 2024,” Merrill, a veteran of number Republican presidential campaigns, added.
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