While a number of potential Republican presidential candidates for 2024 have apparently adopted a “wait-and-see” attitude with regard to the plans of former President Donald Trump, there are a few who appear to be launching campaigns regardless of what Trump may decide to do.
One of those is former Vice President Mike Pence, who has already attended and scheduled for the future several events in South Carolina, an all-important primary state, the Washington Examiner reported.
It was recently revealed that Pence will participate in at least two upcoming political events in April and May in the Palmetto State, which is typically the third state to hold primary elections, is the first southern state to hold a vote, and generally provides a more balanced electorate than its predecessor caucuses and primaries in Iowa and New Hampshire.
Distinct focus on South Carolina so far
Dave Wilson, president of the conservative Palmetto Family Council, a purportedly neutral organization with respect to the 2024 GOP race, has already played host to visits by Pence in 2021, and likely will do so again.
“Vice President Pence is galvanizing his relationships in South Carolina with the evangelical community, which is a strong move on his part to begin to possibly shore up a base for a possible presidential run,” Wilson explained to the Examiner.
The outlet noted that while Pence has also already made multiple visits to Iowa and New Hampshire, he appears to have developed a “sensible strategy” of taking “special care” to visit South Carolina more than any other potential 2024 contenders have done thus far.
Pence vaults toward front of GOP pack
Of course, former VP Pence is not alone in laying the groundwork for a potential 2024 run by repeatedly visiting South Carolina and the other early-voting states on the primary calendar, but it does look like he has done a better job in that regard that his likely future competitors.
Politico, in an end-of-year special report, looked at all of the probable contenders for the presidency and graded them on whether they’d helped or hurt their own cause over the course of the past year.
Dubbing Pence “The Rule Follower,” in light of his straight-laced persona and refusal to reject certification of President Joe Biden’s reported Electoral College victory in Congress on Jan. 6, 2021, was ultimately determined to have made good use of 2021 to advance his own cause.
That would seemingly include walking the tightrope of taking credit for the popular achievements of the Trump presidency while creating more distance between himself and Trump.
Likely direct conflict with Trump coming eventually
Even the notoriously liberal Vanity Fair published a surprisingly positive profile on former VP Pence in mid-January and declared him to be the “shadow frontrunner” for the GOP nomination in 2024, owing to his success in attending events and delivering speeches in the critical early states.
All of that said, everything could easily change if/when former President Trump officially declares his candidacy, and there could soon come a day when the former running mates Trump and Pence drop the gloves and subtle swipes to engage in an all-out head-to-head brawl to see who will lead the Republican Party going into the next election.