Pence returns to Iowa for first time since Trump’s visit in 2017

Vice President Mike Pence is heading back to his first presidential primary state: Iowa. Pence will campaign with Iowa state Republican Sen. Jake Chapman on March 22 in Johnson City, Politico first reported, citing…

Pence returns to Iowa for first time since Trump's visit in 2017

Vice President Mike Pence is heading back to his first presidential primary state: Iowa.

Pence will campaign with Iowa state Republican Sen. Jake Chapman on March 22 in Johnson City, Politico first reported, citing sources who confirmed the visit.

Prior to the election, Pence had not campaigned in Iowa — a must-win state for almost every candidate — as a presidential candidate.

However, his absence did not count as a failure. The renewed visit comes as several other Republican hopefuls, including Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, have campaigned in Iowa over the past few weeks.

Political observers note that Pence’s decision to take the trip to the state again is a sign of his continued growth within the party.

“Mike is here,” said Jeff Kaufmann, chairman of the Iowa Republican Party. “You wouldn’t think he’d be much of a Republican statewide elected official. But he’s got close ties to a lot of influential people here in Iowa and I think people appreciate how engaged he is with the Iowa political system.”

The vice president launched his 2016 presidential campaign in Iowa on Feb. 11 of that year, first visiting Des Moines and then Waterloo.

He has since campaigned more extensively in key states like New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada, visiting all four states six times in order to secure the GOP’s presidential nomination.

In March 2017, Pence was a major part of Trump’s inauguration events, including the speech to Congress in Washington D.C.

“Mike Pence is the strongest vice president in the history of the Republican Party and that’s not just my opinion,” said former New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination for the Senate in 2016. “We had a vice president that went around the country visiting all of the states and the county and states before the election.”

In January of this year, Pence would be asked about the possibility of a 2020 run by a Republican National Committee delegate at the organization’s winter meeting.

“I have no doubt that Sen. Pence would like to be president if he won,” said the delegate at the time. “What he’s interested in doing is making sure Trump stays focused on putting people back to work.”

Although Pence has repeatedly denied that he is considering a 2020 bid, he has yet to publicly reveal if he intends to endorse a candidate in the 2020 primary.

Pence’s trip comes two weeks after President Trump appeared in Iowa for his first visit to the state as commander in chief.

The president attended a large Republican gathering in Des Moines on Feb. 22, where he spoke for nearly an hour in front of more than 20,000 Republicans at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, including House Speaker Paul Ryan and his wife, Janna.

“I was here six months ago with President Trump. So, before he was elected President, he and I had a very, very good discussion about all of the issues that you face and that we face in this country,” Pence said in his response to the president’s address.

“And he knows and I know that health care is extremely important to the people of Iowa and to people across this nation. I hope all of you in this room and all of you across this country know the danger that the Affordable Care Act poses, the threat that it poses and the great job President Trump is doing to protect the American people from it.”

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