Friday, January 15, 2010 The most influential US conservatives: 20-1

The final instalment of's list of the conservatives who most influence American politics.

By Toby Harnden, US Editor
Published: 12:30PM GMT 15 Jan 2010

17. Mike Pence (19 in 2009)

Indiana congressman

Any conversation about rising stars within the conservative movement involves Mike Pence. A lawyer, former talk radio host and now the third-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives has just fuelled rumours of a possible presidential run by hiring national campaign operatives Kellyanne Conway and Bill Neale. Entered Congress in 2001 and has described himself as "a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order". As chair of the Republican Study Committee - a conservative congressional caucus - Pence was a crusader for small government, low taxes and the outlawing of abortion. Now he’s even higher profile as chair of the GOP House conference.

Is beloved by the tea party movement, which could yet turn out to be the kingmaker in the Republican party. Although a 2012 presidential bid is possible, a more likely option for Pence might be to run for Governor of Indiana when Mitch Daniels steps down (he is term-limited). Alternatively, with Senator Richard Lugar in his 78th year, Pence would be a natural to replace him. An outspoken defender of conservative radio and television hosts such as Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, he said in October: “To my friends in the so-called ‘mainstream media’ I say, ‘conservative talk show hosts may not speak for everybody but they speak for more Americans than you do.’” An accomplished communicator, he is at the forefront of rebuilding the Republican brand. “If you can’t communicate, you can’t govern,” he has said.

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