By Jacob Rund
As the speculation of possible 2016 presidential candidates continues, Gov. Mike Pence has done nothing to quell the rumors about his political aspirations.
Although his recent activities seem to suggest he is considering setting his trajectory for the White House, Pence has yet to confirm — or deny — any intention to make such a move.
While it is hard to tell for sure whether he will run for president, he does appear to be testing the waters and attempting to strengthen an ever-growing national constituency.
Take his recent travel schedule, for example. In the previous two months, Pence has attended events in both Iowa and Texas — appearances that stirred up quite a bit of national buzz.
While in the Hawkeye State, Pence spoke at a Midwest-Japan economic conference and gave a speech at a fundraiser for Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad. This is a significant series of speaking events, mainly because it allows him to garner increased exposure in a state outside of Indiana, especially in one as influential in the GOP race as Iowa.
And, in one of several trips overseas as governor, Pence visited Germany and criticized President Barack Obama’s foreign policy.
“This is definitely something a possible presidential candidate would do,” CNN Politics Digital Reporter Eric Bradner said.
The biggest hint thus far at a possible presidential run is Pence’s appearance at a summit in Texas sponsored by Americans for Prosperity, a group backed by Charles and David Koch — billionaires noted for their monetary support of conservative candidates. The event suggests he is attempting to build a strong financial base should he decided to make a run for president.
Perhaps more interesting than his attendance at the Texas summit, are the strong ties Pence has to the Koch brothers. Two of his former staff members during his time as a congressman are now employed by Koch-owned businesses.
This connection could prove vital for Pence if he decides to bypass a potential second run as Indiana’s governor and throw himself into the mix of presidential candidates.
Pence also is expected to attend an event in Michigan in the upcoming weeks, where he could be speaking alongside Rick Santorum – a former presidential candidate in 2012.
An article by Matthew Yglesias for Vox.com places Pence’s impressive collection of “friends in high places” as a more important factor in a possible presidential bid than his public appearances and speeches.
“Journalists tend to overrate charisma and public-facing speeches while underrating networking,” Yglesias wrote. “But politics isn’t so different from any other industry. Networking matters, and Pence is good at it.”
Throughout the past year, Pence has received a surprising amount of national press attention concerning his 2016 intentions. He has been dubbed, by some media outlets, as a dark horse candidate should he choose to run.
Pence’s “pseudo-run” at president is not uncommon. In fact, it is the preferred way for potential candidates to gain a sense of their popularity and expected financial backing.
It is unclear exactly what the threshold of support — both monetary and political — might be, but it appears he could be getting close.
As the months wear on, look for Pence to continue his trend of nationwide appearances, but don’t expect him to make a public decision until he is certain of how he is perceived nationally. And how long this will take, no one knows for sure.
Jacob Rund is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news service powered by Franklin College journalism students.