The support for Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as a possible Republican candidate for the White House in 2016 is gaining momentum.
With the Hoosier state booming economically, grass-roots conservatives are suddenly throwing his name into the mix, alongside the numerous governors who are already expected to join the presidential race, reports The Wall Street Journal.
New Jersey's Chris Christie, Wisconsin's Scott Walker, Louisiana's Bobby Jindal, and Texas' Rick Perry are all possible contenders along with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
Indiana’s chief executive is less well-known than the other governors despite hosting his own radio talk show and calling himself as "Rush Limbaugh on decaf." And his record is considered to be too conservative on some issues, the Journal said.
But he’s also known as being “reliably conservative” on fiscal and social policies, and he helped to found the tea-party caucus. He’s also previously held a position of power in Washington, as the leader of the Republican Study Group in the House of Representatives.
Gary Bauer, who once ran for president and now heads the American Values organization, says that while speaking to other social conservatives all over the country, he’s often asked about 2016 GOP possibilities.
Bauer tells them that "there are people out there who could emerge and one is Mike Pence,” and he said, “It never fails to get an enthusiastic response."
He continued, "Candidates currently in Washington might have a difficult time in 2016. He's not in Washington now, and that turns out to be an advantage. On the other hand, I'm not sure there's a big market for people who have no Washington experience.”
Former Indiana Rep. David McIntosh, a longtime friend of Pence, said he doesn’t know what the governor’s political ambitions are, but notes that there are "a lot of possibilities given the depth of the uncertainty in the party."
Pence believes that his name is being thrown up due to his state’s recent economic success.
During his two-year tenure, Indiana's unemployment rate has dropped to 5.8 percent from 7.9 percent, the fourth-largest drop among all states in that period, while employment has risen by 120,000 jobs, although the figures may be a result of the steps taken by his predecessor, Mitch Daniels.
Although Pence shrugs off questions about whether he's planning to join the presidential race now or in the future, he admits that he’s proud to have his name being part of the equation.
"I can tell you that, for a small-town guy from a southern Indiana who grew up with a cornfield in his backyard, it's a very humbling thing to be mentioned for the highest office in the land,” he said. “But my focus is on Indiana."
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