Pence books back-to-back South Carolina trips to galvanize ties with evangelicals – Fox News

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EXCLUSIVE: Former Vice President Mike Pence will deliver remarks at a private Christian university’s commencement ceremony when he returns in late April to South Carolina, the state that holds the third contest in the Republican Party’s presidential nominating calendar.

A source familiar with Pence’s travels tells Fox News that the former vice president will visit the Palmetto State’s capital city to speak during the April 30 commencement at Columbia International University, which describes itself as a conservative, biblically focused school.  

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As previously reported, Pence will return to South Carolina days later, in early May, to address a dinner on behalf of the Carolina Pregnancy Center, a Christian facility that provides counseling, supplies and adoption services to women who decide to go through with unplanned pregnancies. 

The center, located in Spartanburg in the state’s conservative northwest corner, has become a must-stop for some GOP presidential hopefuls in recent election cycles, as they’ve flocked to South Carolina to showcase their pro-life credentials in front of the state’s social conservative Republican primary voters.

Former Vice President Mike Pence takes part in a "fireside chat" with approximately 400 pastors gathered at the First Baptist Church of Columbia in Columbia, South Carolina, on April 29, 2021.

Former Vice President Mike Pence takes part in a “fireside chat” with approximately 400 pastors gathered at the First Baptist Church of Columbia in Columbia, South Carolina, on April 29, 2021. (Fox News)

Since the end of the former President Trump’s administration just over a year ago, Pence has made three trips to South Carolina, which for decades has played a pivotal role in deciding the eventual Republican standard-bearer.

The former vice president made an unannounced trip last February, appearing in front of a conservative group that supports grassroots and faith-based efforts. In April, Pence headlined a large gathering with pastors and later keynoted a dinner hosted by the Palmetto Family Council, a conservative Christian nonprofit in Columbia.

Pence returned to South Carolina in November to headline a fundraiser for longtime GOP Rep. Joe Wilson, who represents the state’s 2nd Congressional District, and to hold donor meetings. Among those advising and helping Pence during his swings through the Palmetto State are veteran Republican consultant Chip Saltsman and South Carolina state Sen. Josh Kimbrell, a former Christian talk radio host.

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During his lengthy political career as a congressman from Indiana to the Midwestern state’s governor to vice president in the Trump administration, Pence has long been known as a friend of social conservatives as he’s pushed for restrictions on abortion.

Palmetto Family President Dave Wilson told Fox News last year that Pence’s “support of Christian conservative values was a major reason for us reaching out to him. Mike Pence represents a lot of what Christian conservative voters recognize as a impactful part of the Trump-Pence administration.”

Former Vice President Mike Pence speaks at the National Press Club on Nov. 30, 2021, in Washington. 

Former Vice President Mike Pence speaks at the National Press Club on Nov. 30, 2021, in Washington.  (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

The former vice president also made two stops last year in Iowa, the state whose caucuses for five decades have kicked off the race for the White House, and two stops in New Hampshire, which holds the second contest in the nominating calendar and for a century’s held the first-in-the-nation presidential primary. And he also made a November trip to Nevada, which votes fourth in the GOP calendar.

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The multiple stops in the early voting states have sparked considerable speculation that Pence is likely gearing up for a bid for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination.

Pence, who’s been crisscrossing the country to help fellow Republicans running in the November elections, told Fox News during a visit to New Hampshire in early December that after the 2022 midterm elections are over, “we’ll do as our family has always done. We’ll reflect and pray and consider where we might next serve.”

News of Pence’s April stop in South Carolina comes a week after the former vice president made national headlines when he rebuked his one-time boss and called him out by name while discussing Trump’s claim that Pence could have overturned the results of the 2020 presidential election.

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“There are those in our party who believe that as the presiding officer over the joint session of Congress, I possessed unilateral authority to reject electoral college votes,” Pence said last Friday near the end of a speech at a Federalist Society conference in Florida in which he mostly took aim at the Biden administration. 

“I heard this week, President Trump said I had the right to ‘overturn the election’. President Trump is wrong … I had no right to overturn the election,” Pence said to applause from the crowd of conservative lawyers.

Both Pence and Trump, who remains the most powerful figure in the GOP and repeatedly flirts with making another White House run in 2024, will speak early next month in New Orleans at the Republican National Committee’s spring retreat for top donors.

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Two other potential GOP presidential contenders – former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who served as ambassador to the United Nations in the Trump administration, and Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, the chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, are also listed as featured guests at the retreat.

Source URL: https://www.foxnews.com/politics/pence-south-carolina-trips-evangelicals

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