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Pence hints at 2016 ambitions in Federalist talk


– Gov. Mike Pence joked Friday about a possible White House bid, saying the next president should be a governor.

“Some people say that the next president ought to be a governor. I’m certainly sympathetic to that view,” Pence told members of the Federalist Society at an Indianapolis lunch. The roughly 50 or so conservative lawyers and political leaders laughed.

Pence has said he will not decide until next year whether he will run for the White House. But he has increasingly been dropping hints that he has at least some national ambitions.

The Indiana Republican has stoked talk of a possible run for the White House with a series of moves recently. He criticized President Barack Obama’s handling of the crisis in Ukraine during a trade mission to Germany in April and courted potential donors in New York City while on a jobs trip there last month.

He is also scheduled to headline Republican fundraisers in Alabama and New York later this month.

The New York fundraiser is being sponsored in part by David Koch, the oil magnate and prolific Republican donor who would be a key asset in a possible Pence bid. One of Pence’s longtime aides, former communications director Matt Lloyd, recently accepted a job as Koch Industries’ communications director in Washington.

Pence spent most of his 30-minute talk Friday focusing on his desire to see more power ceded by the federal government to the states — a sentiment that was echoed just down the street at the Indiana Statehouse, where lawmakers from around the nation were meeting to lay the groundwork for a possible U.S. constitutional convention.

The governor called federalism Ronald Reagan’s unfinished legacy and recounted a talk he had with Reagan’s former attorney general, Ed Meese. Meese explained that much of Reagan’s belief in decentralized power stemmed from his experiences wrangling with the federal government while governor of California.

Pence, a conservative with strong ties inside Washington, explored a run in 2012 but opted instead to seek the governor’s office. If he did enter the 2016 race, he would likely face a field packed with strong contenders, including other governors.