Nearly a year after he was booed and jeered as a “traitor” at the Faith and Freedom Coalition conference in Orlando for his refusal to overturn the election results, Pence’s tightly scripted comeback ahead of a potential 2024 presidential bid is showing returns.
Since POLITICO reported on the Supreme Court’s draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade, Pence has moved to channel a newly simpatico GOP base. He is finding purposeful ways to contrast with Trump on issues ranging from highlighting his own decadeslong record of anti-abortion advocacy to calling for a muscular response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Next week, he’ll cross Trump by holding a rally with Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on the eve of his GOP primary, a direct challenge to Trump’s endorsement of Kemp challenger David Perdue.
And he’s embraced familiar terrain on the culture wars, launching his own so-called freedom agenda ahead of the midterms, focusing on issues like parental choice in the classroom. Long before Republicans like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis warred with Disney, Pence was attacking the entertainment company as far back as 1999 in an op-ed criticizing the film “Mulan.”
“The issue set feels like it could be coming to him a little bit because he’s good on the culture war stuff,” said David Kochel, a veteran Iowa Republican strategist who said he heard positive reviews of Pence’s April visit to the state.