Make your home page

Pence to launch presidential bid in Des Moines

DES MOINES, Iowa (WISH) — Former Vice President and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence released his first campaign video Wednesday morning as he embarks on a bid for the nation’s highest office.

“My family has lived the American Dream. I had the honor to serve in Congress, as governor, and as your vice president, and I’ll always be proud of the progress we made together,” Pence says. “But today, our country is in a lot of trouble.”

Pence, a Columbus native, adds that it would be “easy to stay on the sidelines,” but that’s not how he was raised.

“That’s why today, before God and my family, I’m announcing I’m running for president of the United States.”

The former vice president makes no mention of former President Donald Trump and the video features no images of Trump. Instead, Pence says that “different times call for different leadership.”

“We can bring this country back. We can defend our nation and secure our border,” Pence says. “We could revive our economy and put our nation back on a path to a balanced budget, defend our liberties and give America a new beginning for life.”

The Indiana Democratic Party issued a statement in response to Pence’s campaign video in which it described the former governor as the “cheerleader of the porn star presidency’” who decided to announce his presidential campaign in Iowa instead of Indiana because “Hoosiers know the full story of Pence’s dismal record.”

The statement also included remarks by state party chairman Mike Schmuhl:

“Despite appearing to lead with his faith, Pence pushed policies that have hurt the most vulnerable among us: he let an HIV outbreak fester for months and turn into a crisis, signed and championed one of the country’s most hateful laws targeting LGBTQ people (RFRA), and twice tried to halt the resettlement of Syrian refugees fleeing a murderous dictator.

“As president, he would continue this awful track record and pursue a nationwide abortion ban that would criminalize women and doctors – all under the guise of a phony Christian conservatism that is neither neighborly nor shows much Hoosier hospitality. 

“It should speak volumes to the American people that Mike Pence is not launching his campaign for President in Indiana, the place he has called home for his entire life, and where he became governor. If he’s truly proud of the work he accomplished for Hoosiers, wouldn’t he try to showcase the Indiana he built to the entire country?”

Pence will join an already-crowded Republican field when he makes his opening pitch to voters in Des Moines, underscoring his stated intention of visiting all 99 counties in the state that has long opened the presidential primary season. Campaign officials said he will meet with supporters before he speaks at the midday gathering.

Pence will become at least the 10th major Republican presidential candidate to declare for the party’s nomination. The field already includes Pence’s old boss, former President Donald Trump, as well as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy and Trump’s former ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley. North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum will launch his own bid on the same day as Pence.

Pence will face an uphill climb not shared by his opponents. Although a close ally of Trump throughout his time as vice president, Pence became a target for the wrath of the 45th president and his supporters after he refused to comply with Trump’s demand that he overturn the results of the 2020 election.

On Sunday’s episode of “All INdiana Politics,” Republican strategist Mario Massillamany said he didn’t have high hopes for Pence’s campaign for that reason.

Pence’s older brother, U.S. Rep. Greg Pence, was more upbeat in an interview for “All INdiana Politics” in May. The congressman said Mike Pence would bring the party back to its traditional Christian, fiscally conservative values. He said Republican voters are ready to move on and find new leaders.

“I would love to see him debate former President Trump,” Rep. Pence said. “He’s a world-class debater.”

Former Vice President Pence will make his announcement at 1 p.m. Eastern. It will air live on WISH-TV, and the WISH-TV app.