(Bloomberg) — Allies of former Vice President Mike Pence have formed a political action committee to support him as he moves closer to challenging his former boss Donald Trump for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.
Pence, who has has said he’ll announce whether he’ll run before late June, sanctioned the creation of the Committed to America super-PAC, according to people familiar with the effort.
The new organization is being led by Scott Reed, campaign manager of Bob Dole’s 1996 presidential campaign and former U.S. Chamber of Commerce chief political strategist, and former eight-term US Representative Jeb Hensarling, the people said. Bobby Saparow, who ran Georgia Governor Brian Kemp’s successful reelection campaign last year, is executive director.
As a super-PAC, Committed to America can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money as long as its spending is not coordinated with the candidate it benefits.
“The country’s at real crossroads, and the Republican party needs a strong conservative candidate who can win,” Reed said.
Despite laying the groundwork for a presidential run for more than a year visiting early-voting states, giving policy speeches and promoting an autobiography, Pence hasn’t been able to break out of the lower tier of candidates in early polling.
He had only 6% support in the RealClearPolitics average of recent 2024 GOP primary polls, well behind Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who’s expected to enter the race soon.
Pence has said he thinks the US wants to return to the policies of what he often calls the “Trump-Pence administration” but with a more civil style of leadership than his former boss.
Pence was loyal to Trump to a point critics called obsequious, but he broke with the former president during the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection when he refused Trump’s demand to reject Electoral College votes for Biden. Pence said he didn’t have the authority, prompting the mob that stormed the US Capitol to chant “Hang Mike Pence.”
The former vice president was greeted with loud boos by Trump supporters who haven’t forgiven him when he delivered a speech in his home state of Indiana at the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting on April 14.
But Pence supporters say history will remember the former vice president for refusing to violate his oath to the US Constitution on Jan. 6, while Trump was the first US president to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power.
Pence has also broken from Trump on continually looking backward to the 2020 election they lost, on blaming disappointing midterm election results on GOP candidates not allowing exceptions to abortion, and Trump’s praise for Russian President Vladimir Putin in the invasion of Ukraine.
The former vice president has also criticized DeSantis for punishing Walt Disney Co. for opposing to the so-called “don’t say gay” law last year, saying it’s “beyond the scope of what I as a conservative, limited-government Republican would be prepared to do.”
The super-PAC’s initial focus will be on Iowa with its first-in-the-nation GOP caucuses and evangelical voters likely to be aligned Pence, a devout Christian and fellow Midwesterner. Reed said “we’re going to organize Iowa, all 99 counties, like we’re running him for county sheriff.”