Indiana Rep. Mike Pence announced Thursday he will not be running for president in 2012, dashing the hopes of Republicans admiring his convervative voting record. Pence will likely opt instead to run for governor of his home state. In national polls, only a tiny number of voters said they'd pick Pence in the GOP primary, but he's well-liked among insiders, CNN's John King and Kathleen Johnston report. At the Values Voter Summit last fall, Pence won the presidential straw poll.
Two "Draft Pence" groups were pushing the congressmen to enter the race. Conservative bloggers now mourn his decision not to, while liberals watch on with their own ideas.
- Disappointing, National Review's Jim Geraghty writes. Pence was "perhaps the best chance of uniting the, for lack of better terms, Tea Party and Establishment wings of the Republican Party. Pence is a thoroughly consistent conservative," Geraghty explains, "but he doesn't snarl, he’s rarely negative, and I can’t recall too many off-the-wall statements from him. A couple folks tried to persuade me he was boring, but I saw him address the NRA Convention last year, and he blew the doors off the place."
- Better Shot from the Governor's Mansion "Given what I also considered the long odds against Pence winning the presidential contest, I think he has made the right call," National Review's John Hood counters. "As Daniels, Chris Christie, and others are in the midst of demonstrating, the post of governor is an excellent place to showcase the promise and importance of conservative governance--and to hone the leadership and management skills that future chief executives need to be effective."
- Pence Took the Safe Bet, Kathryn Jean Lopez says, also at National Review.
Others close to the draft movement admit to be in a 'funk' about Pence's decision. One stating: 'Seriously, we have no one for 2012 now.' I don’t think it’s that bad. But it gives you an idea how 'torn'--which is the word folks close to him keep using about his deliberations--he really must have been. He was being seriously lobbied to run. But for both president and governor. And only one was an extremely safe bet.
- Probably a Smart Move, But 2016's No Sure Bet, Politics Daily's Matt Lewis says.
We don't elect lowly members of Congress to the presidency in this country, but we do elect governors. ... But there is a good argument to be made for Pence seizing the opportunity now. Unlike the 2012 field -- the Republican bench will likely be incredibly strong in 2016. Movement conservatives who were trying to "draft" Pence this year may have more to choose from in four short years. Today, the GOP primary field is littered with potential candidates who hearken back to previous eras. Newt Gingrich and Haley Barbour, for example, are inextricably tied to the 1990s. Former Sen. Rick Santorum reminds me of the Bush years. And Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, and Sarah Palin are all tied to 2008 -- a 'wilderness year' for the GOP. ... I can't help but think that 2016 has already entered the calculus of those weighing their moves for 2012.
- Good for America "I can appreciate the fact that Pence's unyielding right-wing voting record on literally every issue is appreciated by the far-right," The Washington Monthly's liberal Steve Benen says. "But to say that the guy isn't ready for prime time is a dramatic understatement. Pence has no areas of expertise, has no major pieces of legislation to his name, has demonstrated no working understanding of any area of public policy, and after spending five minutes watching him speak on any subject, it becomes clear that he's conspicuously unintelligent."
- Michelle Malkin's Support The conservative pundit tweeted it before the announcement came out:
Whatever Mike Pence decides to do, he will do mvmt conservatives proud. He's far more than a "rock star." He's a ROCK.