Speed Reads

2016 Watch

Is Mike Pence too much like George W. Bush for conservatives?

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Back in September of 2013, I wrote that Indiana Gov. Mike Pence might be the Republican dark horse to watch as we head into the 2016 presidential contest. Among his many attributes, I argued, Pence is widely respected by all facets of the conservative movement.

Until now. In recent days, Pence has drawn criticism from conservatives for choosing to embrace ObamaCare's Medicaid expansion. After hearing the Indiana governor speak at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) recently, The Federalist's Ben Domenech penned a sharp rebuke:

Up close, Pence's mannerisms are remarkably similar to a Midwestern George W. Bush, and I feel like his actions here remind me of a key problem with the Bush presidency, which could prove to be troublesome for Pence should he try for the White House in 2016. Pence's attitude was one of relying on past defenses of conservative policy to justify his current stance...

Of course, "I am a conservative, therefore all my policies are conservative" is a dangerous path to go down. It's one that proved problematic for both W. and the conservative movement during his tenure, which went along with No Child Left Behind, Medicare Part D, and a host of other questionable policy steps without breaking with the White House... [The Federalist]

That's not to say Pence's possible presidential bid is over before it has even started. Every single likely GOP presidential candidate has an asterisk such as this against them. But there's another interesting twist here, and that is how conservatives haven't really forgiven Bush for his big government ways — and, in fact, the 2016 field can be viewed through a sort of "fool me once," post-Bush-stress-disorder prism.