Right Offers Minority Leader Pence as Their Map to Lost GOP

“[T]he American people didn’t quit the Contract with America, we did,” proclaimed Rep. Mike Pence (R-Indiana) of the Republicans’ loss of the House. As rumored in September, Pence has announced his intent to run for minority leader in the next Congress. His “new vision” is, in fact, the old vision: to “rededicate [the party] to the ideals and standards that minted our majority in 1994.”

Pence speaking at the Values Voter SummitAlready, Pence has garnered the endorsement of Human Events, which certainly sounds a lot like the magazine’s attempt to make him majority leader last winter, when they named him “Man of the Year” after his rise to prominence for his dramatic plan to address the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina by cutting funding to safety-net programs and a grab bag right-wing bugbears.

Other right-wing leaders seeking to regroup and ensure they don’t get left behind as the GOP assesses its political options are also rushing to bolster Pence’s early claim. Pat Toomey, whose Club for Growth worked hard to unseat supposedly moderate Republicans in primaries this year, was nonplussed about the prospect of his PAC helping to topple the Republican’s hold on Congress, and he looked forward to the Club playing an “enormous role” in “rebuild[ing]” the GOP. Today, he says: “I think that Mike Pence would be a great leader for House Republicans.”

David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union, insisted that yesterday’s vote was not a rejection of the “ideological vision[]” of the modern GOP, presumably represented by right-wing groups like his, but merely an expression of dissatisfaction in “Republicans’ performance in taking us there.” Keene also expressed early support for Pence.

Other groups have yet to weigh in, perhaps preoccupied as they scramble for their own spin on yesterday’s results – see, for example, “Integrity Voters Reveal Values Gap,” from the Family Research Council. But Pence did receive a standing ovation at FRC’s “Values Voter Summit.”