Governor Pence visited New York City today to recruit businesses to Indiana, but many believe he was also recruiting opinions as to whether to make a run for the presidency.
While the stated reason for the governor‘s trip to New York, including a cable TV interview on Fox and Friends, was to pitch Indiana‘s business climate, many who follows politics believe he is gauging the level of interest in a 2016 bid.
Pence has admitted in interviews that he is listening to supporters who believe he would make for a good presidential candidate.
“[He's] finding out how [what he says] resonates with voters and donors and important people, and if they resonate the right way, then he‘ll think about throwing his hat in the ring for real,” says Andy Downs, director of the Mike Downs Center For Indiana Politics at IPFW.
Throughout the morning, the governor‘s official Twitter account, and that of Katelyn Hancock from the Indiana Economic Development Corporation tweeted pictures and videos from the trip, as well as reminders of Pence‘s frequently used phrase, “a state that works.”
Take a look at these tweets:
The governor also used Twitter to remind his followers of tax cuts he championed, as well as the state‘s balanced budget and cash reserves.
“Even if you say things like ‘Indiana has a wonderful business climate. Please come and open up your business here,‘ you‘re also basically saying to the rest of the United States, ‘hey, as an executive, I‘ve created a state that has a wonderful business climate. Imagine what I could do for the country,” Downs says.
During a recent business recruiting trip to Germany, Pence caught the attention of political junkies when he made comments about what he characterized as the Obama administration‘s “failed” policies toward Russia.
He also has trips planned to campaign for the governors of Wisconsin and Alabama.
Even if Pence is using his travel to put out feelers for a presidential run, Downs says Indiana could benefit.
“Somebody someplace is hearing about Indiana, who might think about moving here or moving a business here,” Downs says. “In addition, he‘s building up some political capital that he may choose to use to benefit the state.”
Pence has also been mentioned by some as a possible Republican running mate in 2016, perhaps as a conservative balance to a more moderate nominee.
While Downs says no one sets out to run for the number two spot on a ticket, Pence‘s national visibility makes being number two an option.
“He brings a resume that would be quite attractive as a VP candidate,” Downs says.