Mike Pence to announce presidential campaign with June 7 rally in Des Moines

Former Vice President Mike Pence will publicly launch his presidential campaign June 7 with a rally in Des Moines, according to a source close to Pence who was not authorized to speak publicly about his plans.

Pence has been widely expected to launch a run for the Republican nomination and has been laying the groundwork for a presidential campaign for months.

He has made regular visits to Iowa and is set to appear at U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst's annual Roast and Ride fundraiser this weekend, joining more than a half-dozen other presidential candidates, before his official launch.

The decision to announce the campaign with a rally in Des Moines reflects Iowa's importance in determining the future direction of the Republican Party, the source said.

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During a May 24 event in Ottumwa, Pence acknowledged Iowa's "outsized role in shaping our nation's leadership."

"I honestly think that the choice that we will make for a standard bearer in our party has maybe never been more important," Pence told the crowd of a few dozen Wapello County Republicans. "I do believe different times call for different leadership."

Pence plans to campaign heavily in Iowa, focusing on retail politics where he can introduce himself to voters and talk with them about his faith and his values. He plans to campaign in all 99 Iowa counties, the source said.

That will include familiarizing Iowans with his record during his six terms in Congress and as governor of Indiana before he served as vice president under former President Donald Trump.

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Pence will hold a number of events in Iowa following his campaign announcement. He is already set to participate in a CNN town hall at 7 p.m. at Grand View University in Des Moines. That event will be moderated by Dana Bash.

A March Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll found Pence was viewed favorably by 66% of Iowa Republicans and unfavorably by 26%, while 7% were not sure.

His stock among Iowa Republicans dropped substantially since a previous Iowa Poll in June 2020, when 86% viewed him favorably and 7% unfavorably.

Since then, Trump turned on Pence and attacked him for not helping to overturn the results of the 2020 election on Jan. 6, 2021, causing a number of loyal Trump supporters to turn against Pence.

Pence has sketched out contrasts with some of his major Republican rivals, including Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, on issues like support for Ukraine. Trump has expressed skepticism about the United States sending military aid to Ukraine.

"There are some voices in our party that are essentially sounding the retreat," Pence said in Ottumwa. "I’m somebody that believes that America is the leader of the free world. We’re the arsenal of democracy. We ought to be inspiring freedom and we ought to continue to stand with those that are fighting for freedom all across this world."

Pence has also called for making changes to Social Security and Medicare to reduce the nation's spending and rein in the national debt. Trump has said Republicans should refuse to make cuts to Social Security and Medicare — a policy Pence said is "identical to Joe Biden's."

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Part of Pence's pitch is about returning civility to government. He has spoken about an old essay he wrote after his first unsuccessful run for Congress, called "Confessions of a Negative Campaigner." In the essay, he admits that "as a Christian, I knew I should have lived up to a higher standard in the public debate and I failed."

"I believe that democracy depends on heavy doses of civility and I think we ought to be looking for leadership that will restore a threshold of civility in public life, that will bring respect back to the dialogue," Pence said in Ottumwa. "Let’s fight and let’s argue over the direction of the country but let’s do it like Americans, with respect for one another."

Stephen Gruber-Miller covers the Iowa Statehouse and politics for the Register. He can be reached by email at sgrubermil@registermedia.com or by phone at 515-284-8169. Follow him on Twitter at @sgrubermiller.

This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Mike Pence to announce GOP presidential bid June 7 in Des Moines