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Pence in Iowa: Former VP to weigh presidential bid after new year

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Be encouraged, Republicans.

That was the message former Vice President Mike Pence reiterated throughout his speech Thursday at the 15th Annual Kaufmann Family Dinner. 

“I want you to be encouraged going into this election,” Pence said. “We’re going to get it all and then some.” 

The former vice president focused his speech around reelecting Republicans to win back Congress, which will help “set the course for strong, conservative leadership” going into the 2024 presidential election, he said.

He told reporters that Republicans have a great opportunity for an "American comeback" this year and that it is starting in Iowa by reelecting Gov. Kim Reynolds, and U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley.

Pence headlined the fundraiser as a featured speaker, It's his second visit to Iowa in a month. He was at the Iowa State Fair in August, joining Grassley on a tour of the fair. The recent visits are one of many since the 2020 election, sparking rumors of a potential presidential run in 2024. 

But he has yet to give a clear indication. 

Pence told a group of reporters following his speech that he is focused on the midterm elections but alluded to a possible run in 2024, saying he would evaluate his next steps in the new year. 

“When the time comes after the first of the year, we’ll take time to reflect on how we might serve in the future, the near-term or the long-term,” Pence said. 

Pence’s multiple visits to Iowa could provide him a slight advantage in the presidential race since Iowa has the first-in-the-nation caucus. His face-to-face time with Iowa legislators and residents could set the platform for being a potential frontrunner. 

Pence has also attended party fundraisers and speaking engagements intermittently in the state since the 2020 election, including a speech at the University of Iowa in November 2021.

State Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, R-Wilton, said the main reason for his visit was to help maintain Iowa’s Republican trifecta in the General Assembly and called his career in public service a lifetime achievement. 

Kaufmann went on to make a speech of his own following Pence, rallying the local crowd. 

"In our party, our issues, all these pieces that we've pushed past are attempted to uplift everyone, to give everyone an opportunity to pursue the American dream," Kaufmann said. 

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