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Pushing Conservative deals
The Republic ^ | 11-7-05 | Mike Dorning

Posted on 11/09/2005 10:18:56 AM PST by BransonRevival

Since taking the lead of the Republican Study Committee at the beginning of the year, Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., has charted a more aggressive course for the 106-member group of House conservatives, first confronting party leaders over budget rules and now again on how to pay for hurricane-related spending.

For many of the party’s fiscally conservative supporters, the surge of spending for Katrina relief was the final straw from an administration that was spending at levels they considered unacceptable.

Even excluding spending on defense, homeland security and Katrina relief, discretionary federal spending has risen 33 percent since President Bush took office, according to the conservative Heritage Foundation.

The Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, reported that spending overall has grown faster under Bush than under Lyndon Johnson, who simultaneously waged the Vietnam War and launched the Great Society welfare programs.

Conservatives are nursing plenty of other grievances right now. Bush’s recent nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court deeply disappointed social conservatives who expected a choice who would move the court unambiguously to the right. The nomination was withdrawn.

Illegal immigration has stirred a storm of criticism among grass-roots conservatives who blame the federal government for what they consider to be an out-of-control border. The botched response to Katrina sapped confidence in the Bush administration’s competence.

And, just like the rest of the country, conservatives are feeling the financial pinch of rising gasoline prices.

Meanwhile, a vacuum is opening in the Republican leadership. Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas, was forced to resign his leadership post after his indictment. Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tenn., is under investigation for possible insider stock trading. White House political adviser Karl Rove is under investigation for perhaps leaking a CIA agent’s identity. And former Cheney adviser I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby has been indicted in the CIA leak probe.

Bush’s popularity has dropped to its lowest point ever, according to various national polls.

And the most recognizable potential candidates for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, such as Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, are hardly standard-bearers for the right.

“While they’re impressive people and they’re conservative on some issues, none of them is really an obvious leader of the conservative movement,” said Bill Kristol, editor of the conservative Weekly Standard.

“The party faithful and the conservative grass roots have been searching for the next Ronald Reagan. And Mike Pence has been mentioned as someone who could fill the Gipper’s shoes, even though he’s still young and a relative political newcomer,” said Stephen Moore, founder of the Free Enterprise Fund.

Like Reagan, who was once a Democrat and an admirer of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Pence’s beliefs changed over time. He started out a Catholic and a Democrat, whose interest in politics was stirred during his youth by John Kennedy, a hero to his Irish family. Pence, a Columbus native, still has a childhood memory box stuffed with Kennedy memorabilia, he said.

But as a freshman at Hanover College in Indiana, Pence was drawn to Christian evangelical beliefs and committed to the faith on a weekend retreat.

“I had a growing interest in my Christian faith,” Pence said. “As I continued to grow and mature, I found I was a bit more challenged in the evangelical faith.”

Pence later met his wife, Karen, at an evangelical church service. She was playing guitar, and he caught up with her afterward.

“I told her I wanted to join the guitar group,” Pence recalled. He never did, but they were engaged nine months later.

By the time he graduated college, Pence said, he had become a Republican, inspired by Reagan’s hopeful economic message of self-reliance and concerned by the national Democratic Party’s embrace of abortion rights and liberal social causes.

A few years after he graduated from the Indiana University Law School, he ran for Congress twice, losing in 1988 and 1990. Beginning in 1994, he hosted a radio call-in show, eventually syndicated statewide, keeping Pence on the air three hours a day, six days a week. He was elected to Congress in 2000.

“To understand Mike Pence, you have to understand it took me 12 years to get to Congress,” Pence said. “I try to get up every day and prayerfully approach my job in a way that people will say he did what he said he would do when he got here.”

He was also one of 33 Republicans to vote against Bush’s signature No Child Left Behind Act, opposing it as an enlargement of the federal role in education. And he was one of only 25 in the party to vote against the administration-supported Medicare prescription drug benefit. Pence considered it too costly.

Republican leaders held open the vote on the drug plan for three hours to twist arms to gain enough support. Pence likens those who withstood the pressure to the men at the Alamo.

Describing the current unrest among Republican conservatives, Pence said, “You can’t look at that angst in a vacuum. ... That angst has been building for four years.”

Pence did vote for a farm bill that dramatically expanded subsidies for farmers, a key constituency in his largely rural district. But he now says he regrets the vote and would not support a new farm bill, unless costs were reduced and farmers exposed to greater market discipline.

He is willing to take on unconventional issues. While most conservatives are distrustful of the media, Pence has taken up the cause of a federal shield law to protect reporters’ confidential sources, arguing that a vigorous press is a check on power in keeping with conservatives’ goal of limited government. Pence argues that Republicans sacrifice their advantage as the party in control if they muddy their message.

“One more expansion of the Department of Education, one more big expansion of entitlements, and that (Republican) coalition will be shattered,” Pence said. “If Republicans keep answering every problem with an expansion of big government, eventually people are going to get the professionals, (the Democrats) the guys who do big government.”

Unlike most Midwestern members of Congress, who typically keep their families back home and commute to Washington every week, Pence’s family lives with him in Springfield, Va., while Congress is in session. His three children attend a suburban Virginia Christian school, where his wife also works as an art teacher.

On a recent day, he was in his study at 6 a.m., reading the first chapter of the Book of Joshua, he said. The lesson recounts the commission that God gave the Old Testament prophet to lead the Jewish people out of the wilderness and into the Promised Land.

“Be strong, be courageous and do the work” is the lesson he said he took from the reading.

“I’m not a supremely confident man, but I have faith in God and faith in these ideas,” he added.

TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism
KEYWORDS: mikepence

1 posted on 11/09/2005 10:18:56 AM PST by BransonRevival
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To: BransonRevival; Gipper08

Paging Gipper08, Paging Gipper08

2 posted on 11/09/2005 10:21:03 AM PST by RockinRight (It’s likely for a Conservative to be a Republican, but not always the other way around)
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To: RockinRight; BransonRevival
This is the condensed version of the Great Tribune article of a week ago.There seems to be another great profile every week.Hopefully the Budget cuts pass tomorrow,then we can push for the 2% across the board cuts.Then WE can REALLY push for cuts.
3 posted on 11/09/2005 10:31:28 AM PST by Gipper08 (Mike Pence in 2008)
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