The platform released by Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday combines Republican goals like increasing American energy production, cutting taxes, and rolling back regulations with former President Donald Trump's priorities on issues such as trade and immigration.
Pence offers plenty of culture-war red meat to the GOP base. He pledges to save women's sport by "ensuring that competitions in sports are between those with their God-given gender", and calls for all high school students passing a civics exam.
"Elections are about future and I believe it's essential that we do our part in fighting the failed policies of both the Biden administration, the radical left, but at the same, we want to offer compelling vision built upon our highest American ideals," Pence stated to reporters before the release of the plan. It is an effort to bring together the agenda that, according to me, brought us to the White House in 2016. It also carried two Bush presidencies and Ronald Reagan to the White House.
The 28-page plan is reminiscent of a presidential campaign platform. It also outlines Pence's goals and provides a roadmap of the policies and themes he will pursue if he runs for president in 2024. As he attempts to distance himself form his former boss and to develop a political identity, Pence has been careful to remain tied to the Trump-Pence policies, which are still very popular with Republican voters.
It is part of what Pence's aides consider to be a unique opportunity as a former talk-radio host and Indiana governor to combine the traditional conservative movement with Trump’s "Make America Great Again” agenda.
Marc Short, cochair of Advancing American Freedom (an advocacy group founded by Pence last year), stated that "there is a winning coalition to America that believes the traditionally conservative values the vice president championed throughout his career."
Pence insists that "elections about the future" is what matters, contrary to Trump's insistence on 2020 election claims.
Pence's plan is coming as the GOP is at odds with itself over whether it would be wise to offer voters a clear policy agenda before the midterm elections in 2012. Senator Republican leader Mitch McConnell has resisted such efforts. He argued that Republicans should focus on President Joe Biden's decline in popularity in the midst of the highest inflation in 40 years and Russia's war in Ukraine. The election should be a referendum on him.
Last month, the risks associated with a particular plan were made clearer by Florida Sen. Rick Scott. He is another potential 2020 contender and chair of the Senate Republicans campaign arm, . The plan called for all Americans "to pay some income tax to have skin" -- which would result in a tax increase for millions of people who don't pay income tax because they make so little.
Scott presented his plan to the conservative Heritage Foundation on Thursday.
To his critics, the Florida senator replied "Bring it on!" "If the Republicans go back to Washington's business as usual, and if our plan is to be a speed bump along the road to America’s socialism, and collapse, then we don't deserve the right to govern."
House Republicans have been working on their "Commitment to America” plan with echos of Newt Gingrich's former House Speaker, which was unveiled by Republicans in 1994, before they won the midterm elections that year.
"For the American people to support you and join you, they first want to know what you will do," Kevin McCarthy, House Minority Leader, said last week at , the party's annual retreat, in Jacksonville, Florida.
Candidates on the campaign trail expressed similar sentiments.
On Monday, many of the Republican Senate primary candidates in Ohio applauded Scott's efforts, even though they disagreed with some parts of his plan.
"I am so sick of Republicans saying, 'Well...we're just going back against the Biden Agenda.' But, that's not true. J.D. asked. Vance asked. Vance replied, "There are many problems out there. There are many very serious problems. There are many serious problems.
Pence stated that this was part of his intent.
He said that while it was important for us to criticize, confront, and be loyal to the opposition, it is equally important that we present a positive, compelling view based on our highest ideals, and the successes that were achieved during our administration.
Thursday's economic plan calls for expediting permits for oil-and gas production, expanding drilling offshore, and for trade agreements to better protect American workers. Pence also calls for China to establish a victims compensation fund and an economic recovery fund in order to compensate those who have "negligently unleashed and hidden the origins COVID-19."
Pence's immigration agenda is very similar to a Trump press release. The agenda calls for leaders to "oppose any forms of amnesty." This is typically a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants. It also seeks to end what he calls "chainmigration" by restricting family reunification to the immigrant's closest family. It calls for "the patriotic assimilation and completion of Trump's border wall"
Pence's section on "protecting American Culture" calls for the promotion and end of "radical political Indoctrination," including the teaching of anti American racist ideologies such as Critical Race Theory. This theory views racism in the nation's institutions as a systemic problem.
Pence also urges states and local governments to insist that high school students take a test on the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution before they graduate. He also supports limits on mail-in and early-in-person voting among other election measures.
Pence has been increasing his public profile by making frequent media appearances and giving policy speeches. In recent weeks, he has visited South Korea, Israel, and the Ukrainian border to Poland where he welcomed fleeing refugees. He has also visited several early voting states including New Hampshire and South Carolina. He will return next month.
His advocacy group is spending millions on advertisements and filing friend-of court briefs against vaccine mandates. He's also working on two books and projects with the Heritage Foundation, Young America's Foundation, and other organizations.