Speakers at the conference included House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, the Republican Governors Association chair and a Pence ally. Several top Trump administration officials attended, including former National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow, Paul Teller and Kellyanne Conway, a former Pence pollster. Marc Short, Pence’s former chief of staff, also presented.
Pence launched the advocacy group this spring, creating a vehicle to promote his record as he prepares for a prospective national bid. Because Advancing American Freedom is a nonprofit organization, it doesn’t have to disclose its donors or detail its fundraising totals. Pence has a separate leadership PAC, Great America Committee, which reported raising $325,000 during the first six months of the year, according to federal filings. Those in Pence’s orbit are also in discussions about forming an allied super PAC.
While the 2024 contest is a long way off, would-be candidates are already courting the Republican Party’s biggest givers. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Sen. Tim Scott (S.C.) and Sen. Tom Cotton (Ark.) are among those aggressively reaching out to donors.
Pence’s political future, however, has been clouded by his role in certifying the results of the Electoral College — a move that infuriated former President Donald Trump and some members of his base, who wanted him to block the count. The former vice president has stood by his actions, saying he is “proud” of his role in reconvening Congress following the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, when Trump supporters chanted “Hang Mike Pence” as the counting of electoral votes got underway. Pence has also said that he doesn’t know if he and Trump will “ever see eye-to-eye on that day,” and that “there’s almost no idea more un-American than the notion that any one person could choose the American president.”