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Pence noncommittal, but stoking talk of White House bid

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Indiana Gov. Mike Pence is stoking talk of a White House bid in 2016, with increasing trips out of state and the high-profile rollout of a health insurance plan he is calling an alternative to Medicaid.

Pence has been saying for months that he is "listening" to national conservatives interested in seeing him make a presidential bid. Meanwhile, he has been out meeting with influential Republicans and conservatives.

He opened the week mingling with potential donors in New York City, speaking at "The New York Meeting," an annual gathering of conservative-thought leaders organized by Mallory Factor. Factor, an independent banker and political pundit, built his name in the last decade connecting Republicans with high-dollar donors.

And the governor will be in Washington, D.C., at the start of next week, pitching his proposal to expand health insurance coverage for low-income Indiana residents at the American Enterprise Institute, an influential conservative think tank.

But he has been demur about his ambitions. When asked at Factor's New York talk if he would run for the White House, Pence ducked the question — as he has many times in the past few years.

"Any time I'm mentioned or talked to about the highest office in the land is deeply humbling, deeply humbling to me and my family, but my focus is Indiana," he said.

The governor's work for Indiana occasionally raises national and even international questions. Earlier this month, Pence used an economic trade mission to Germany to take an odd step for a sitting governor and criticized President Barack Obama's handling of the situation in Ukraine. He also called for the resumed construction of a European missile defense shield. His staff explained his interest in foreign policy by citing his extensive service on the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs while serving in Congress.

The fundraising activity comes amid a flurry of Republican Party appearances for Pence. He headlined the Wisconsin Republican Party's annual convention earlier this month and is scheduled to speak at the Alabama Republican Party's convention next month.

Decisions are still a long way off for any would-be contender. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton continues to dominate a speculative field for Democrats, while the Republican field is well-populated with possibilities, from establishment favorites including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush to tea party fighters like U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.

That means Pence would enter the race amid a long list of viable Republicans, but he could find a way to victory if the field stayed wide open and clear of a front-runner, said Darrell West, vice president and director of Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution, a Washington-based think tank.

"He's testing the waters," West said. "He would be on a long short-list. He's not at the very top of the list, but the top of the list doesn't look so strong at this point."

If he decided to enter the race, Pence would come in with a strong fundraising network built from his time in Washington and Republican moneymen in Indiana who helped try to entice former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels to run in 2012. Pence's name was thrown in the mix for the 2012 race as well, but he opted against a run at that point, as many observers pointed out his strong legislative resume, but lack of executive experience.

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  • It's unanimous
    Yep...put a fork in 'im...he's over before he starts...the conversation is only being had because he so clearly has been running for President instead of Governor all along...
  • Ohhh No
    Pence will never get elected. He's not that bright and only appeals to a small element of his own party who are obsessed with social issues. His candidacy guarantees a Hillary win at a time when America is finally tiring of Marxists.
  • Fat chance
    Pence has as much chance as Palin and Cruz to be President. This is a joke.
  • HAR de HAR
    You gotta be kidding. Dense for President. Well it would get him out of Indiana
  • LOL
    Hahahaha...completely delusional. Like Romney was.
  • PLEASE RUN!
    That way we can gan get rid of him as Governor and there is no chance in Hades of him ever being President! A real Win Win for the people of Indiana and the USA!
  • Seems unlikely
    It seems that every four years the local press gets worked up about the possibility that an Indiana politician might be on a national ticket. We saw it with Bayh and Daniels and now Pence. Perhaps the idea that they are covering someone of potential national significance feeds local media egos. My guess? Mr. Pence's ambitions are of no interest to anyone outside Indiana.
  • Yawn.
    Listen folks, America is a big bold country, not at all like Indiana. Nobody outside of the Midwest is going to like this guy. Nobody. Somebody in the inner circle needs to have the courage to tell our sleep-inducing governor the truth.

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