Speaking Thursday evening in South Carolina - a crucial early voting state in the presidential nominating calendar - in an address that will spark more 2024 speculation, the former vice president is expected to contrast the achievements of the Trump-Pence administration with the new president’s record so far in the Oval Office.
Advisers to the former vice president tell Fox News that Pence will turn up the volume on his criticism of what he’ll term Biden’s radical policies as the president moves further to the left, and he’ll showcase a "positive" conservative policy vision that can help fellow Republicans win back the House and Senate in the 2022 midterm elections. Pence aides say the former vice president will also reflect on his faith and values as he addresses the Palmetto Family Council, a conservative Christian nonprofit based in Columbia, South Carolina.
"I think he feels that it’s the tradition to be respectful of a new administration for a period of time and allow them to get their footings," Marc Short, a close Pence aide and adviser who served as the then-vice president’s chief of staff the past two years, told Fox News.
But Short said that "100 days seems an appropriate time" for Pence to start speaking out and taking aim at the Biden agenda.
"I think his remarks will be very policy-focused," Short previewed. "I think that President Biden has during his first 100 days has spoken rhetorically like a moderate, but I think the policies are the most radical we’ve seen in a generation. I think Vice President Pence will outline where those policies are a threat for many, including the pro-family groups like Palmetto."
Pence kicked off his swing through South Carolina with a tour of the Spartanburg campus of the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine, which took a leading role in assisting the Palmetto State’s efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic. Last year, Pence became the face of the administration’s battle against COVID-19, as he chaired the White House coronavirus task force.
Pence then held what was described as a fireside chat with roughly 400 pastors at the First Baptist Church of Columbia, before keynoting the Palmetto Family dinner in front of up to 600 ticketed guests at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center.
Since the end of the Trump administration, Pence has slowly built his post vice presidency profile. In February, Pence joined the Heritage Foundation, one of the oldest and most influential think tanks in the conservative movement, as a distinguished fellow. He joined the Young America's Foundation, a leading conservative youth organization. And earlier this month, Pence launched "Advancing American Freedom," a political advocacy group.
Short emphasized that Pence "uniquely positioned" to champion the marriage of the traditional fiscal and social conservative movement with Trump’s America First agenda of the past four years.
"He has a natural heritage within the conservative movement that I think bridges those two," Short explained. "He served that role in 2016 when Trump tapped him and he served that role throughout the administration, and I think he’s uniquely positioned to marry those large factions within the Republican Party."
The trip also marks the start of a more vigorous travel schedule for Pence, with what aides said would be one or two trips per week going forward, to help fellow Republicans on the ballot this year and next year. "You will see him on the road a lot helping for the 2022 cycle," Short touted.
As a former House member, and as a former executive at the Republican Governors Association who has a strong relationship with current RGA chair Gov. Doug Ducey of Arizona, Pence may concentrate on House and gubernatorial contests. Aides said he has an event for House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy next week in Texas.
The trip to South Carolina, which holds the third contest in the GOP presidential nominating calendar and the first southern primary, will once again put Pence in the 2024 spotlight. A Republican strategist in the state said to him, the former vice president’s trip "is a clear signal" of what may eventually turn into a presidential campaign.
Another sign – Pence is working on a two-book deal, with the first tentatively scheduled for publication in 2023, just as the next race for the White House hits full swing.