A super PAC backing an expected Mike Pence presidential bid is planning to launch in mid-May, while his campaign is ramping up talks with consultants and activists in early nominating states, according to a senior adviser to the former vice president.
A second person familiar with the Pence camp’s internal deliberations confirmed the PAC’s timeline to POLITICO, saying it would be “up and running shortly.”
The formation of the PAC would serve as the prelude to an official campaign that is betting heavily on performing well in Iowa. Pence, a devout evangelical Christian, is trying to re-create the coalition that helped Republican candidates win Iowa in the past, like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in 2016, former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Penn.) in 2012 and former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-Ark.) in 2008. None, ultimately, won the nomination, but Iowa is an important early state and could set the stage for scrambling the early days of the presidential primary.
“The path starts in Iowa,” said the senior adviser, who was granted anonymity to discuss the campaign’s internal deliberations. “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist — even a political reporter like you can figure that out: That’s the path.”
Chip Saltsman, the architect of Huckabee’s 2008 Iowa victory, has been advising Pence on his early state strategy. And Pence’s camp also is having conversations about the PAC with Mike Biundo, the New Hampshire-based veteran of nine presidential campaigns — one among a tiny group of Republican consultants to have won both the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary — who was national senior adviser to Trump in 2016. A person familiar with the discussions and granted anonymity to outline them said Biundo is also in talks with other campaigns.
“South Carolina is crowded,” the senior adviser to Pence said, referring to former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, two presidential hopefuls who both have deep ties in the state. Pence’s still-nascent campaign is also optimistic about the New Hampshire crowds the vice president has received.
“We’re also under no illusion that this isn’t going to be front-runner status on day one,” the senior adviser said.
Pence’s former boss President Donald Trump still holds first place in the primary polls, with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis coming in as a distant second. Pence tends to sit in third place, hovering around 6 percent in recent polls.
The advent of the PAC would mark the latest move in a monthslong effort by Pence to test the waters for an unusual campaign — one that could see the most recent former vice president challenging the former president of his own party. On Thursday, Pence testified to a federal grand jury investigating Trump’s effort to subvert the 2020 election.
Pence told CBS News recently that he would make a final decision on a presidential campaign “well before late June.”
A Pence spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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