RECLAIMING THE REPUBLICAN PARTY
THE AMERICAN DREAM
LTC Robert "Buzz" Patterson
As the annual Conservative Political Action Conference kicks off today, however, what was just a sense of optimism last year has already amplified into renewed confidence. Indiana Rep. Mike Pence, the third-ranking Republican in the House, said in an interview with RealClearPolitics that the party is back on track and expects there not only to be a Republican majority in Congress next year, but a conservative majority.
Pence has been a harsh critic of his GOP colleagues -- as well as Democrats -- since coming to Congress in 2001. A former chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, Pence railed against increased government spending under Republican leadership in several CPAC speeches over the last few years, and likened the party to a ship that had not only gone off-course -- but "run aground."
"My speech theme this year is what a difference a year makes," said Pence, who will deliver his annual CPAC speech on Friday. "My goal is going to be to bring to the eight-to-10,000 people there that a year ago I thought we were on the verge of a great American awakening -- but I had no idea."
In November 2008, Barack Obama won states Democrats hadn't even contested in decades, including Pence's home state of Indiana, which had voted Democratic just once since 1940. Now, Democrats across the country are worried for their political health, as analysts believe Republicans will pick up a substantial number of seats in the House and Senate.
Regaining the majority in Congress remains a tall order for the GOP, as Democrats hold an 18-seat edge in the Senate and 77-seat hold on the House. However, polling shows that independent voters, who played a big role in Obama's victory, are trending back toward Republicans, and Democrats in swing districts and states are in trouble.
"I think Americans have been taken aback by the aggressive, big-government liberalism of this Congress and this administration," said Pence. "But I also believe that as House Republicans have been returning to our roots of fiscal discipline and limited government, the American people have been taking a second look and they like what they see."
The candidate receiving the most attention from conservatives nationwide is Marco Rubio, a young, Hispanic, former Florida House speaker, who will give the keynote address at CPAC this morning. Rubio's Senate challenge to the more moderate and establishment-backed Gov. Charlie Crist has excited a conservative base that scoffs at the notion of the national GOP pursuing a 'big tent' majority at the expense of more conservative candidates.
"He's an unusually talented public figure and it's great to be commended, but in many respects Marco Rubio is very typical of the kind of conservative fresh faces that we're seeing step forward at every level across the country," said Pence, who endorsed Rubio over Crist earlier this month. "And I think it's a harbinger of a very conservative comeback in 2010."
Pence, himself, is extremely popular with conservatives, and there's a push for him to run for president. When asked, he wouldn't close the door to a bid in the future but maintained his focus was on helping win back Congress.
"I really believe the opportunity to elect a conservative majority to the Congress is real," said Pence. "But as I'll say Friday, it will be important for all of us to not become distracted and that we stay focused, that we put our heads down, and that we do everything in our power to restore common sense conservative principles to the majority in Washington, D.C."
Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh will not seek re-election this year, Fox News has learned.
The two-term Indiana senator is known as a moderate Democrat. His retirement gives Republicans yet another opportunity to pick up a seat in a year when several incumbent Democrats are considered vulnerable.
Former GOP Sen. Dan Coats had been planning to challenge Bayh in November.
By Ben Zion Hershberg • email@example.com • February 13, 2010
U.S. Rep. Mike Pence came to Southern Indiana on Saturday to endorse fellow Indiana Republican and former House colleague Mike Sodrel in the 9th District GOP primary.
Pence, R-Columbus, appeared at a noon news conference with Sodrel at the Clark County Republican headquarters in Jeffersonville and then at a luncheon at The Grand in New Albany.
“We need someone who can hit the ground running in the battle to preserve our constitutional
If Sodrel wins the GOP nomination in the May 4 primary, he would face incumbent Democratic Rep. Baron Hill for the fifth time in a row in the general election. Sodrel, who lives in New Albany, won in 2004.
Sodrel is one of four candidates in the primary. The others are Todd Young of Bloomington, Travis Hankins of Columbus and Rick Warren of Elizabeth. Young and Hankins began their campaigns months before Sodrel’s entry in January. Warren formally entered the race earlier this month.
Ed Feigenbaum, publisher of Indiana Legislative Insight, a newsletter of politics and government, said it is historically unusual for elected officials to take positions on candidates in their parties’ primaries. But Pence has taken positions this year in contested primaries in several states, including Kansas, South Carolina and Florida, Feigenbaum said.
He said Pence’s involvement on behalf of Sodrel could range from personal friendship in 2005 and 2006 when both were in Congress to thinking that Sodrel has the best chance against Hill in the November election.
But Feigenbaum also said Pence’s support could backfire because of anti-establishment feeling among some conservative voters. Pence ranks third in the House Republican leadership.
“On balance, if I was Mike Sodrel, I would much rather have Mike Pence speaking out for me this early,” Feigenbaum said.
Sodrel said he appreciates Pence’s support.
“We worked together for two years,” Sodrel said. “He knows how I think and how I vote. He’s a good man.”Reporter Ben Hershberg can be reached at (812) 949-4032.
WASHINGTON -- U.S. Rep. Mike Pence, who has left the door open to running for president in 2012, is heading to New Hampshire next month as the keynote speaker for a GOP fundraising dinner.
It will be the Indiana Republican's first trip to New Hampshire, the state that typically holds the first presidential
Pence, the third-ranking member of the House GOP leadership, has said he is focused for now on helping Republicans in the 2010 elections and will consider other possibilities after that.
He has described the travel he's been doing around the country as part of his effort to boost GOP candidates.
For example, he attended fundraising events last summer for a colleague from Iowa, the state whose caucuses are the first step in the presidential nomination process.
Stepanek said he expects several hundred people to attend the March 19 dinner in New Hampshire. Hillsborough County is the state's most populous county, although Stepanek said Republicans from throughout the state will attend.
Tickets, which cost $30 for the reception and $125 for both the dinner and reception, have been selling well, Stepanek said.
Asked whether he'd like to see Pence run for president, Stepanek said he has to stay neutral. But he said Republicans are looking around for who can best lead the party in 2012.
"I think people are looking at his record, and they're interested to hear more about what he has to say on what's going on in Washington right now, and how we're going to fix what's going on so that we can turn this country around," he said.
Former congressman Chris Chocola (R., Ind.), president of the Club for Growth, tells National Review Online that former senator Dan Coats (R., Ind.) is a “very appealing candidate” and that he “would like to sell Coats’s candidacy to our members in coming days.”
Coats represented Indiana in the Senate for a decade and retired in 1999 instead of running for reelection against then–Indiana governor, and now incumbent senator, Evan Bayh (D., Ind.). Coats announced his possible candidacy earlier today. He joins a field of four other Republicans in the Senate primary: former congressman John Hostettler, state senator Marlin Stutzman, financial adviser Don Bates Jr., and tea-party activist Richard Behney.
“As an Indiana guy, I know that Dan is doing this for all of the right reasons,” Chocola says. “He’s done his time and served well, but he sees what is happening in Washington and knows that he can’t stay on the sidelines. My sense is that he would have been satisfied with a candidate like Mike Pence, but after Pence decided not to run, felt a sense of duty to jump into the race. His candidacy moves us back in the right direction. He has strong name identification — not as strong as it was ten years ago, but still meaningful — and the ability to raise money.”
“The Club is going to take a hard look at this race, and hopefully we’ll find a way to help Dan get back to the Senate,” Chocola says. “Of course, we’ll make sure we comb over his voting record and do our homework before an endorsement of any sort.”
Is Bayh beatable? “Evan Bayh is a good politician, but he hasn’t stood on consistent principles,” Chocola says. “When he ran for president, he tacked left. After Massachusetts, he has tacked right. It’s all about political expediency. For a long time in Indiana, no one could tell that story. Dan Coats is someone who I think can, as well as anyone.”
“People thought Bayh’s father was unbeatable in 1980, and then Dan Quayle beat him,” he adds. “There was a unique environment in 1980, and I think 2010 echoes it in many ways. There is an anti-incumbent mood building in Indiana, and people are tired of Bayh being a political chameleon. Bayh has had a war chest of cash and the press calling him a moderate for years, and no one ever challenged him. I’d like to help Dan Coats tell that story.”
Congressman pledges support for possible Coats' campaign for U.S. Senate
Contact: Bill Smith, 765-635-9885
ANDERSON, Ind., Feb. 3 /Standard Newswire/ -- Congressman Mike Pence released the following statement in response to the news that former U.S. Senator Dan Coats is considering a 2010 campaign to return to the Senate:
Former Indiana Sen. Dan Coats plans to announce Wednesday that he will challenge Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh in November, a senior Republican official told POLITICO.
Coats held the seat Bayh currently occupies for 10 years before retiring in 1998. Since leaving Congress, he has worked as a lobbyist and served as U.S. ambassador to Germany during the George W. Bush administration.
"Coats deciding to run is a product of the environment we're in right now," the GOP official said. "This is a great opportunity for us. We have a real player on the field that they weren't expecting us to have."
Former Rep. John Hostettler and state Sen. Marlin Stutzman are already in the race on the Republican side.
WASHINGTON, DC-U.S. Congressman Mike Pence issued the following
statement today after the Obama Administration's budget for
FY 2011 was released:
"Although President Obama promised a change in direction last
week, the budget the administration released this morning is
just more of the same old failed fiscal policies that gave
us record spending, record debt and no job growth over the past
year. This course is irresponsible and unsustainable.
"The American people know we can't borrow, tax and spend our
way back to a growing economy. Yet the president's budget more
than doubles the debt and increases spending and taxes to
"House Republicans will hold the administration accountable
for its promises of fiscal responsibility while fighting for
fiscal discipline in Washington, DC and across the board tax
relief for working
WASHINGTON, DC-U.S. Congressman Mike Pence announced today that Mayor
Kris Ockomon, Mayor of Anderson, and his wife Ann will be his guests of
honor at the 58th Annual National Prayer Breakfast, which will take
place this Thursday, February 4, 2010 in Washington, D.C.
"I am honored to be joined at this significant event by Anderson's
mayor, Kris Ockomon and his wife Ann," said Pence. "As we set aside
time to remember the power and necessity of prayer, we should also be
reminded to pray for those like Mayor Ockomon who sacrifice much to be
"I am thrilled to have been invited to attend the National Prayer
Breakfast this year," said Ockomon. "Ann and I have felt the power of
prayer at work in our lives and look forward to being present at this
event, where thousands of people united in purpose and faith will gather
together to call on a greater power."