Pence makes foray back into politics with speech to S.C. conservatives

WASHINGTON — Former Vice President Mike Pence will deliver his first public address since leaving office at the Palmetto Family Council Annual Gala in Columbia, South Carolina, on Thursday, marking his foray back into the public square in a critical presidential nominating state and in front of a gathering of evangelical voters he has long counted as part of his political base.

The address gives Pence an opportunity to highlight what conservatives see as the best of the previous administration’s record and position himself for the beginning of a potential presidential campaign in 2024.

In his remarks, Pence is expected to criticize President Joe Biden's first 100 days in office as drastically different than what he campaigned on in 2020, according to a source familiar with Pence's thinking, a line of attack echoing complaints from other Republicans in recent days.

Now that Biden has reached the traditional benchmark, Pence will use it to contrast Biden’s first 100 days with what he will bill as the accomplishments of former President Trump’s first 100 days, the source added.

Pence will also speak to the current political moment, the source said, as one conservatives have been in before, in 2009 and in the 1990s, and highlight how the way to push ahead is to unify around a positive policy agenda that’s rooted in conservative principles.

Pence’s speech is also expected to highlight the agenda of his new political advocacy group, Advancing American Freedom. And his remarks will reflect on his own Christian faith and touch on areas where he shares values with the host organization, the Palmetto Family Council — a conservative nonprofit that advocates religious liberty.

Thursday's speech will also be a kickoff to more travel and a higher public presence for Pence. He will now be taking at least one or two trips a week, the source said, with a focus on efforts related to his partnerships with the Heritage Foundation and Young America's Foundation. His trips will also seek to help political allies, especially in boosting Republicans to take back the House and Senate.

Heading to South Carolina today to deliver remarks to the Palmetto Family Council on the Conservative values that have made America great!

Tune in back here at 7:00PM EST to watch live.

— Mike Pence (@Mike_Pence) April 29, 2021

Pence is also working on a two-book deal for Simon & Schuster, with the first tentatively scheduled for publication in 2023.

And South Carolina is a politically important state for his first appearance since leaving office, a point not lost on the Palmetto Family Council's executive director, Dave Wilson.

“The road to heaven and the White House lead through South Carolina,” Wilson said when Pence's speech was announced. “We understand South Carolina does play a part in national politics, and we take that responsibility very seriously.”

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