Our View: Mike Pence for Minority Leader

When the now-defeated Republican majority in the House of Representative was led astray on key issues by President Bush, House Speaker Dennis Hastert and former Majority Leader Tom DeLay, it was Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana who rallied backbenchers to fight back in defense of conservative principles.

That is why Pence should be elected minority leader for the next Congress.

Under Pence’s leadership over the next two years, we believe, House Republicans can put themselves in position to retake the majority in 2008. More importantly, they can be counted on to fight for what’s right—even when that means defying a president of their own party.

Speaker Hastert did the right thing today by stepping aside. But if Republicans in the House simply elevate the other members currently in the leadership—go back to business as usual—the party may find itself mired in the minority for years to come. Conservative activists need to speak out now to make certain this doesn’t happen. They need to say: No to the old leaders. No to business as usual. Yes to Mike Pence.

When President Bush pushed through the No Child Left Behind education law in his first year in office, Mike Pence opposed it. Rep. John Boehner of Ohio, the current House majority leader, not only supported No Child Left Behind, he became its principal congressional advocate—along with liberal Democratic Sen. Teddy Kennedy of Massachusetts.

In 2003, when Bush pushed through his $8-trillion Medicare prescription drug entitlement, creating a new welfare program for the middle class, Boehner supported Bush again. Pence led a gang of House conservatives who valiantly opposed it. When the leadership brought the drug plan up on the House floor in the wee hours, Hastert and DeLay tried to bully conservatives to switch their votes. Some did. Not Mike Pence.

Boehner voted for the drug entitlement.

Last year, when President Bush, stung by criticism of his response to Hurricane Katrina, started tossing out federal tax dollars like a carnival king tossing out Mardi Gras favors, Pence led the conservatives in the House Republican Study Committee, which he chaired, in demanding spending cuts to offset Bush’s proposed spending. Eventually, Pence and Company forced reluctant Republican leaders to accept at least some cuts—even in entitlement spending.

Pence is not a big government conservative. He is a Ronald Reagan conservative. Like Reagan, he recognizes that government is often not the solution, but the problem.

He is a supply-sider who has always favored lower taxes on income, savings and investments–as well as lower federal spending. He believes in a strong military and a strong national defense. He is committed to defending the right to life and traditional marriage.

Pence is also like Reagan in that he is a former broadcaster and excellent communicator. Unlike Speaker Dennis Hastert, who was never a compelling presence in the mass media, Pence will be able to make persuasive arguments for the conservative cause on national television and radio programs.

Conservatives should call House members now and urge them to support Mike Pence for minority leader.

You can contact your member by phone at (202) 224-3121 or e-mail.