The Corner

Pence 2012?

Over the weekend, Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana, the chairman of the House Republican Conference, won the presidential straw poll at the Values Voter Summit. Pence’s victory wasn’t much of a surprise. While strolling around the Omni Shoreham hotel, I was struck by how many attendees were enthusiastic about Pence and his future as a national candidate. To many Americans, Pence remains a little-known five-term congressman — one notably left out of the House GOP’s Young Guns project. But on the right, his stock is rising.

For now, Gov. Mitch Daniels is generating the most 2012 buzz inside the Hoosier State. But Pence’s weekend win has brought him, in a more serious way, into the conversation. “Mike Pence got a well-deserved boost . . . he is a solid conservative,” tweeted Newt Gingrich soon after. Pence appears to enjoy the scuttlebutt about his presidential chances and has stoked chatter when he can: He’s visited Iowa, South Carolina, and New Hampshire in recent months.

Still, if Pence is mulling a run, he faces a tough climb. “As history shows, it is extremely difficult to go directly from the House to a presidential nomination — or even to be a major candidate,” says Larry Sabato, the director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. “Henry Clay, James A. Garfield, and a few others aside, statewide or national office routes have proven much more reliable as president-makers.”

“The TV age hasn’t proven any different,” Sabato continues. “Jack Kemp couldn’t do it, and Dick Gephardt never came especially close either time, despite his theory that the electronic era gave anyone on the stage equal standing. Pence has the better shot, given his strong standing among social conservatives, but he’s got plenty of competition for that vote. He’d be better off running for governor first. Same for Paul Ryan, though he missed his opening this year.”

“But what the heck,” Sabato laughs. “It’s the silly season, where every man’s a king — or president!”

Robert Costa — Robert Costa is National Review's Washington editor and a CNBC political analyst. He manages NR's Capitol Hill bureau and covers the White House, Congress, and national campaigns. ...

Most Popular


Stick a Fork in O’Rourke

If, as I wrote last week here, Joe Biden may save the Democratic party from a horrible debacle at the polls next year, Beto O’Rourke may be doing the whole process a good turn now. Biden, despite his efforts to masquerade as the vanguard of what is now called progressivism, is politically sane and, if ... Read More

In Defense of the Electoral College

Senator Elizabeth Warren has joined a growing chorus within the Democratic party in calling for the abolition of the Electoral College. Speaking at a forum in Mississippi on Monday night, Warren said that she hoped to ensure that “every vote matters” and proposed that “the way we can make that happen is ... Read More

Ivy-League Schools Wither

A  number of liberal bastions are daily being hammered — especially the elite university and Silicon Valley. A Yale and a Stanford, or Facebook and Google, assume — for the most part rightly — that each is so loudly progressive that the public, federal and state regulators, and politicians would of ... Read More
National Security & Defense

In Defense of the Iraq War

Today is the 16th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, and Twitter is alive with condemnations of the conflict -- countered by precious few defenses. Yet I believed the Iraq War was just and proper in 2003, and I still believe that today. When Donald Trump condemned the war during the 2015 primary campaign and ... Read More