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Former Vice President Mike Pence traveled on Wednesday to New Hampshire, which, for 100 years, has been the state which has held the first presidential primary, spurring questions about whether he may be thinking about a 2024 White House bid.
Formally, Pence’s trip to The Granite State was to support fellow Republicans who are running for office during next year’s 2022 midterms, but the trip no doubt caused speculation about the VP’s potential future plans.
According to Fox News, Pence was the keynote speaker at an event in Manchester for New Hampshire Senate Republicans. In addition, he served as the headliner for a Heritage Action “Save Our Paychecks” event which sought to highlight President Joe Biden’s socialist economic agenda, which the group says is “hurting workers and families across the country.”
Heritage Action is the political division of the Heritage Foundation, one of the conservative movement’s oldest and most influential think tanks; Pence joined the organization earlier this year as a distinguished fellow.
Also during his trip, Pence met and spoke to the New Hampshire Home Builders Association.
Pence’s visit was his second trip this year to the state, and while he served loyally as President Donald Trump’s No. 2, Pence has been raising his profile lately. In June, for instance, he gave an address to the Hillsborough County GOP’s Lincoln-Reagan Day dinner that was very well received and interrupted on a number of occasions by standing ovations, Fox News reported.
“Pence, a former congressman and governor of Indiana, has been tireless so far this year in traveling across the country to help the GOP win back majorities in the House and Senate and pick up more governorships in the 2022 elections,” the outlet added. “And his travels have taken him to the first four states that vote in the race for the White House.”
In addition to New Hampshire, Pence traveled to Iowa last month, his second trip to a state that, for 50 years, has served as the jumping-off point for presidential primaries. The former VP went to South Carolina in the spring, the state “which votes third in the GOP primary and caucus calendar, and last month in Nevada, which holds the fourth contest,” Fox News reported.
His trips are not the only things that are fueling presidential speculation: In the spring, Pence also launched Advancing American Freedom, a political advocacy group that was established to “promote the pro-freedom policies” of the Trump-Pence administration with an eye towards 2022 and 2024.
Pence has been tight-lipped about his future plans. However, last month during the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual leadership meeting, he pledged that “we’re going to win back this country in 2024.”
All said, Trump himself continues to drop strong hints that he plans to run again for a second term in 2024, potentially pitting him against Biden in a rematch. But while other potential GOP contenders have said they would bow out if Trump decides to run again, Pence appears to be signaling that his decision will not be dependent on his former running mate.
Pence has also been touting his actions on Jan. 6, in which he refused Trump’s call to not count electoral vote results from states his 2020 campaign was contesting, saying during his June trip to New Hampshire that he believes he did his “duty under the Constitution and the laws of the United States.”
The former VP has also addressed how his relationship with Trump was diminished following the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
“I don’t know if we’ll ever see eye to eye about that day,” Pence has said.
Veteran New Hampshire-based Republican consultant Jim Merrill told Fox News he believes Pence “is clearly coming here to make friends and to raise his profile.”
“The truth is people know him here, but in the wake of Jan. 6 there is a question of what the former president thinks of him,” Merrill, who has been involved in several GOP presidential campaigns, added.
“I think he’s here to stake out his own identity and establish his brand to send a message that he’s very serious about 2024,” he told the network.
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