Mike Pence is thinking of running for president.
Take a number, right?
On paper, he’s a perfectly plausible candidate, leaving aside the fact that most of the country has no idea who he is. Indiana governor, former congressman, solidly conservative Republican.
But do his musings about 2016 warrant a big Washington Post story?
This is the silly season, in some ways, where anyone can mutter about maybe, possibly running and generate some press. Even though, as the Post acknowledges, Pence hasn’t really taken any steps toward running.
The late columnist Russell Baker used to write about the Great Mentioner, that mysterious way in which candidates would be included on lists of those mentioned for high office. With today’s media proliferation, someone is always being mentioned somewhere by somebody.
Here’s the formula: You call around and get party stalwarts to say that So-and-So has potential, might be pretty good, and as long as the guy doesn’t slam the door, you can “discover” him.
Since Pence, a former talk radio host, has been making some speeches and hitting fundraisers around the country, the Post pounces:
“The moves bear the hallmarks of a potential run for president in 2016 — and some GOP leaders have begun talking up Pence as an under-the-radar standard-bearer who could return the party to the White House, according to interviews with more than two dozen prominent Republicans. They say the talk-radio-host-turned-congressman-turned-governor has the capacity to electrify grass-roots voters while uniting the constituencies that make up today’s deeply divided Republican Party.
In an interview with The Washington Post, Pence acknowledged that he is weighing his 2016 options amid calls from some supporters to consider a presidential run. ‘In the last few months, people have reached out,’ he said. ‘I’m listening.’”
I have to be careful here. Maybe Pence will jump into the race and do well. Sometimes candidates emerge out of nowhere: Jimmy Carter in 1976, Mike Huckabee in 2008, Rick Santorum last time.
The Post certainly reported the story well and has everyone on the record.
And if Pence never leaves Indiana, well, there’s no downside to getting a little national press, huh?
Actual Politico headline
Mike Pence aside, maybe it doesn’t matter whether pols say they’re “listening” about 2016 or not. Here is an unretouched headline from yesterday’s Politico:
“Warren Still Not Running for President”
Howard Kurtz is a Fox News analyst and the host of "MediaBuzz" (Sundays 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET). He is the author of five books and is based in Washington. Follow him at @HowardKurtz. Click here for more information on Howard Kurtz.