Former Vice President Mike Pence is set to return after the end of the Trump administration with the launch of a new group to address the policies of the Biden administration and the Democratic-controlled Congress.
The former vice president has mostly stayed out of the public eye since inauguration day, focusing mostly on some early work with conservative organizations and the arrival of a new grandchild. But on Wednesday, he launched Advancing American Freedom, a unit he said in a statement that would “promote the freedom-promoting policies of the past four years that created unprecedented prosperity at home and restored respect for America abroad.”
The new group will enable Pence to maintain his political profile and serve as his vehicle for defending the Trump-era policies. A senior aide said the former vice president is likely to focus in particular on the Biden administration’s shifting immigration and border security policies and the current president’s proposal to raise corporate tax rates to pay for a multi-trillion-dollar infrastructure plan.
According to the senior assistant, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the plans, the new group is designed to “merge traditional conservative values with the Make America Great agenda.”
Successful implementation of this merger in the coming years will be crucial for any Republican who is not named Donald Trump and who is considering running for president in 2024. As the GOP awaits a decision by the former president on whether to join competition or not, there are several other Trump-adapted GOP leaders making early moves: Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has traveled to Iowa in recent weeks; Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who earns greetings from conservative leaders for his control of the coronavirus pandemic in his state; Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton; Texas Senator Ted Cruz; and Missouri Senator Josh Hawley. Others outside Trump’s sphere of influence, including Maryland’s Gov. Larry Hogan and former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, are also considering bids from the White House.
But Pence’s new group comes with Trump’s blessing, who in a brief statement to the Washington Examiner on Wednesday called his first term “the most successful” in American history, adding: “Nice to see Mike highlight some of our many accomplishments!”
Pence’s group is backed by a who’s who of Trump-era players and other conservative leaders. It will be led by Paul Teller, a former assistant to Cruz and co-chair of longtime Pence aides Marty Obst and Marc Short and Chip Saltsman, a former assistant in South Carolina to former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and Mike Huckabee’s presidential campaigns.
The group’s board includes former White House adviser Kellyanne Conway, top Trump economic adviser Larry Kudlow, former trade representative Robert Lighthizer, Callista and Newt Gingrich, Ed Meese and Rick Santorum. The current governor of Arizona, Doug Ducey, is also advising the group along with former Wisconsin governor Scott Walker. Kay James, president of the Heritage Foundation – a conservative think tank for whom Pence is a prominent visiting guy – and two of the group’s former presidents, Jim DeMint and Ed Fuelner, are also on board.
The launch of the new group comes ahead of the former vice president’s first public appearance, a speech before a Christian conservative group scheduled for April 29 in Columbia, South Carolina. He is also scheduled to attend a private fundraiser for the Heritage Foundation in Arizona earlier this week, helpers said.
Pence’s announcement comes the same day that former Trump senior adviser Stephen Miller announced plans to start an independent group, America First Legal, designed to create legal challenges for the Biden administration’s policies.