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Why Mike Pence Could Steal Sarah Palin's Thunder

4 years ago
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"If Mike Pence keeps talking, the left will soon have to stop talking about Sarah Palin."

That's according to the Detroit News' Nolan Finley's latest editorial. Finley goes on to note that "Mike Pence is no Sarah Palin. And that should worry the daylights out of the left." (Pence had recently spoken at the Detroit Economic Club.)

The Pence admiration, of course, is not limited to one reporter in Michigan. Though the Indiana congressman says he won't decide whether to run for president until next year, conservative leaders I spoke to were equally as bullish on him.

Chris Chocola, president of the powerful fiscally conservative Club for Growth (and a former Indiana Congressman), tells me Pence may benefit from being less well known, and less of a lighting rod than Palin. He also notes that Pence's "conservative credentials are really unquestionable" and that he "appeals to every group that Palin appeals to -- and probably a little more."

"Pence is Palin with gravitas. Pence is Palin with experience," adds Brent Bozell, chairman of ForAmerica.

Regarding experience, FreedomWorks Chairman Dick Armey says of Pence: "He's been a rock-solid fiscal conservative, showing up not only for the high-profile TARP and Obamacare battles, but also championing issues that are maybe less glamorous politically but are critically important for our country, such as fundamental tax reform, specifically the flat tax."

Of course, Pence would have some major obstacles to overcome.

Historically, Americans don't elect presidents from the House of Representatives. What is more, a fellow Hoosier -- Gov. Mitch Daniels -- might run, which would complicate matters. Others are skeptical of whether Pence could raise the kind of money a credible presidential race might require. And, of course, there's the issue of whether anyone could wrest control of the grassroots conservative vote from Palin, should she decide to run.

But Pence's friendly personality and likable demeanor might go a long way. "He has a disarming personality. He doesn't come at you -- he just talks to you," says Chocola. He's "like [Mike] Huckabee on the stump."

Pence is fortunate to have solid fiscal and social conservative credentials. Recently, he won the Value Voters straw poll organized by the socially conservative Family Research Council.

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