By MEG KINNARD
COLOMBIA – As he positions himself for a possible White House bid, former Vice President Mike Pence returns to early voting state South Carolina, scheduled to deliver the opening address at a fundraising banquet for a Christian pregnancy center that has become a regular stop for GOP presidential candidates.
In May, Pence will speak at a dinner on behalf of the Carolina Pregnancy Center, according to a copy of the invitation obtained by The Associated Press. The organization, which executive director Alexia Newman describes as a “pro-life ministry”, offers Christian counseling and adoption services and free supplies to women who choose to have babies as a result of unplanned pregnancies. .
South Carolina holds the first presidential primaries in the South, and candidates from both major parties typically spend more than a year in the state before those votes, running and trying to gain support.
Republican candidates often use conservative voters in South Carolina as a proving ground to test their “pro-life” mettle. Nearly a year ago, Pence chose the fundraiser for another conservative Christian nonprofit in South Carolina as the scene of his first public address since the end of the Trump administration.
That dinner for the Palmetto Family, which lobbies for what he sees as “biblical values,” like heterosexual marriage, gave Pence a backdrop for some of the issues he’s long advocated for as a member of the Indiana Congress-turned-Governor, as abortion restrictions and support for the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision that guaranteed a woman’s constitutional right to abortion.
Carolina Pregnancy Center, the host of Pence’s return in May, is based in the state’s conservative northwest and has frequently hosted Republicans seeking their party’s nomination. During the 2016 cycle, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, Dr. Ben Carson, and businesswoman Carly Fiorina all visited Spartanburg facilities.
It’s the kind of political trip Pence has taken on a regular basis during political seasons. In September 2020, he visited a pregnancy center in Florida, highlighting his anti-abortion and conservative Christian views.
A month later, he met with abortion opponents at a women’s clinic in Raleigh, North Carolina, also attending a political rally featuring anti-abortion candidates and calling the Democratic Party “the party of abortion on demand”.
Since leaving office, Pence has worked to build a post-White House operation that includes a political advocacy group, speeches, fundraising and building relationships that could help him survive. he was choosing to run for president in 2024.
Much of that has included efforts to deepen his appeal to his white evangelical Christian base, as well as Trump supporters and those who may have liked former President Donald Trump’s policies but not his style. Speaking at a September forum on demographics and family values in Budapest, Pence told attendees he hoped the new conservative Supreme Court majority created under his and Trump’s administration would soon overthrow the abortion rights in the United States.
Ahead of U.S. Supreme Court arguments in an abortion case, Pence in November called on the High Court to “make history” and overturn Roe v. Wade, calling the 1973 decision a “wrong decision” that “inflicted tragedy not only on our nation, but on humanity.”
Meg Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP.