GOP governors’ aides who’ve rebuked Trump launch super PAC for Pence
A new super PAC has formed to support a presidential run by former Vice President Mike Pence, according to sources familiar with its planning. The group’s formation is another sign that Pence, who has not yet officially declared a 2024 bid, is gearing up to jump into the race.
The PAC supporting Pence, “Committed to America,” is filled with former aides to Governors Brian Kemp of Georgia and Larry Hogan, the former governor of Maryland. Like Pence, who refused to reject President Joe Biden’s electoral college victory on Jan. 6, 2021, both governors are Republicans who have clashed with former President Donald Trump in recent years.
Bobby Saparow, who led Kemp’s 2022 reelection campaign, including his decisive primary victory over Trump-backed former Sen. David Perdue, will be the executive director of the PAC. Co-chairs of the PAC include Scott Reed, the campaign manager of Senator Bob Dole’s 1996 presidential bid, and former Rep. Jeb Hensarling.
Mike Ricci, who served as Hogan’s communications director in the governor’s office as well as a spokesperson for House speakers Paul Ryan and John Boehner, is handling press for the group.
Whether Hogan or Kemp will back a potential Pence presidential bid is not yet clear. Hogan recently announced he would not run for president. The former Maryland governor, who worked with Pence throughout the pandemic response, met with Pence in Iowa in March. In the 2016 GOP primary, Hogan endorsed former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who is also considering a 2024 run.
Super PACs for presidential bids have historically been used to buy campaign ads to support their preferred candidate, fund get-out-the-vote drives and conduct research on policy and other candidates.
But “Committed to America,” as well as the “Never Back Down” super PAC supporting a 2024 run for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, are both trying to expand the extent to which these groups, which can receive an unlimited amount of donations, can support a candidate on the ground.
“We’re going to organize Iowa, all 99 counties, like we’re running him for county sheriff,” Reed said.
Although Pence has been visiting a number of early-voting states, his potential road to the GOP nomination, and the White House, has not been evident in early national presidential primary polls. A CBS News national poll conducted in late April of the expected 2024 GOP presidential field showed Pence with just 5% support among likely GOP primary voters, and when asked if they’d consider voting for Pence, 57% said they were not considering it while 17% said they were considering it.
The staffers behind the PAC believe that Pence’s experience as an Indiana governor and congressman, as well as his experience as vice president after the 2020 election, will establish him as the “committed constitutional conservative” in the field.
“People know Mike Pence, they just don’t know him well,” Reed said. “This campaign is going to reintroduce Mike Pence to the country as his own man, not as vice president, but as a true economic, social, and national security conservative — a Reagan conservative.”
The PAC plans to mirror the grassroots operation used to help Kemp to a reelection landslide in Georgia over his Trump-backed opponent and deploy it on a national level.
“You will see that what we built out with Governor Kemp is going to be taken to the national stage, ” Saparow said. “We have all the confidence in the world that the results that we are able to garner for Governor Kemp, we can duplicate for the vice president.”
In late April, Pence told CBS News during a trip to Iowa that he’d announce his 2024 decision “well before late June” and that anyone “serious” about seeking the GOP nomination has to be in by June.
Pence will be in New Hampshire, the first state to hold a GOP 2024 presidential primary for two days of events this week.
Robert Costa contributed reporting.