Sunday, February 14, 2010

Pence plans New Hampshire visit

By Maureen Groppe / Star Washington Bureau
Posted: February 6, 2010

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 primary.

"We feel that he's somebody in politics who is an up-and-coming voice for the Republican Party," said Steve Stepanek, chairman of the Hillsborough County Republican Committee, which is holding the dinner. "We want to make sure we give our constituents and members of our party the opportunity to meet and converse with all of the important candidates who are coming to New Hampshire."

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.

Contact Star Washington Bureau reporter Maureen Groppe at (202) 906-8118 or at

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