INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana's Republican Gov. Mike Pence is stoking talk of a White House bid in 2016, with increasing trips out of state and the high-profile rollout of a health insurance plan he is calling an alternative to Medicaid.
Pence has been saying for months that he is "listening" to national conservatives interested in seeing him make a presidential bid. Meanwhile, he has been out meeting with influential Republicans and conservatives.
He opened the week mingling with potential donors in New York City, speaking at "The New York Meeting," a monthly gathering of conservative-thought leaders organized by Mallory Factor. Factor, an independent banker and political pundit, built his name in the last decade connecting Republicans with high-dollar donors.
And the governor will be in Washington at the start of next week, pitching his proposal to expand health insurance coverage for low-income Indiana residents at the American Enterprise Institute, an influential conservative think tank.
But he has been demur about his ambitions. When asked at Factor's New York talk if he would run for the White House, Pence ducked the question — as he has many times in the past few years.
"Any time I'm mentioned or talked to about the highest office in the land is deeply humbling, deeply humbling to me and my family, but my focus is Indiana," he said.
The governor's work for Indiana occasionally raises national and even international questions. Earlier this month, Pence used an economic trade mission to Germany to take an odd step for a sitting governor and criticized President Barack Obama's handling of the situation in Ukraine. He also called for the resumed construction of a European missile defense shield. His staff explained his interest in foreign policy by citing his extensive service on the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs while serving in Congress.