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Pence’s schedule indicates a 2012 presidential run is unlikely

When Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) chose to relinquish his role in the Republican House leadership for the next session of Congress, the political punditry knew that he was positioning himself to run for higher office. But what campaign he was planning remained up in the air. His name has been floated as both a potential 2012 Republican presidential nominee or as a contender to replace current Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels when his current term ends in 2012.

While his potential 2012 rivals clamor to fill their spring schedules with appearances in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina — aka the states that will make or break a presidential bid — Pence has zeroed in on sticking closer to home. Howey Politics Indiana reports that Pence is currently lining up events across his home state that indicate his 2012 ambitions will stay in Indiana rather than the national stage.

U.S. Rep. Mike Pence is scheduling Republican Lincoln Days Dinner all over Indiana, Howey Politics Indiana has learned.

It is the best clue yet that he is preparing to launch a 2012 Indiana gubernatorial campaign, as opposed to seeking the presidency. “He is scheduling larger counties,” a Republican source told HPI on Monday.

Pence appears to have a clear path toward gaining the Republican gubernatorial nomination after Indiana’s lieutenant governor said that she will not seek the state’s top position in 2012. Pence would also face steep odds of mounting a successful presidential campaign from his seat in the House of Representatives, as James Garfield in 1880 was the only sitting House member to ever win a presidential election. And helping Pence’s chances, former U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh, the Democrat with the highest name recognition in the state, has decided against throwing his hat in the gubernatorial ring.

If Pence decides to run for governor instead of president, he will disappoint many in the conservative base. In September, Pence trumped many other high-profile Republican presidential candidates, finishing first in the Values Voters Summit straw poll. Influential conservative commentator Erick Erickson penned a post Monday at Red State endorsing Pence for president. While stating that Sarah Palin is still his preferred candidate, Erickson wrote that Pence is the only candidate who can appeal to both sides of the divide that currently exists in the Republican electorate.

[Pence] bridges the gap between the establishment and the grassroots. He is in the comfort zone of both. He has a private sector background that shines in comparison to anything Barack Obama ever did before elected politics.* He has the free market think tank background to reassure fiscal conservatives. He has the social conservative bona fides to reassure the social conservatives who, this year, feel marginalized.

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