Having said that, I think his strategy of not talking about issues until after the primary is terribly misguided. The Indianapolis Star reports:
Rep. Mike Pence leads a small pack of candidates for governor handily in campaign cash and enjoys the status of being the Republican establishment candidate in a GOP-dominated state.To see the rest of the article, click here.
But one of his first campaign promises, made the day before he kicked off his campaign last month, was that he won't talk policy until after the May 2012 Republican primary -- which he's widely expected to win.
"I was insulted," said Fishers businessman Jim Wallace, who is challenging Pence for the Republican nomination. "I think that presumes voters don't care or don't know that there should be a serious discussion."
Pence spokesman Matt Lloyd won't comment, and the Pence campaign won't release the names of Republicans who are working on his policy team and advising him on state issues. But the campaign isn't lacking for experience: Chris Atkins, Daniels' former budget aide, is running Pence's policy operation.
Unfortunately for voters who crave details, Pence's policy silence is brilliant politics, said former Republican state Rep. Mike Murphy, who now does political consulting.
"If you're the front-runner, you want to talk as little about policy as possible because you're already the presumptive nominee," Murphy said. "Any nuance of a policy proposal could drive prospective voters away."
I couldn't disagree more with former Rep. Murphy. While what Murphy is saying about issues is true in a vacuum, campaigns aren't conducted in a vacuum. The problem is that the Pence strategy to avoid issues will become THE issue. If Pence is unwilling to address policy details until the primary is over, he's likely to deeply alienate many GOP-leaning voters as he squares off against Fishers businessman Jim Wallace next May. Wallace is playing it extremely smart playing the role of victim and saying he's "insulted" about the Pence strategy. The Wallace people are, in fact, probably thrilled with the Pence campaign strategy, which could alienate so many otherwise Pence-leaning Republicans as to give the businessman an actual shot of winning the primary.
Even more troublesome for the GOP is that the Pence campaign strategy gives presumptive Democratic gubernatorial nominee former Speaker John Gregg an opening. If I'm Gregg, leading up to the primary I hammer Pence relentlessly for not talking about the issues. By the time the primary is over, there will be a segment of Republicans deeply alienated, indeed insulted, by the Pence campaign strategy. Those Republicans might very well be inclined to vote for a moderate, good old boy Democrat like Gregg.
I hope there were at least some Pence advisers who warned against this ill-advised campaign strategy. If not, Pence needs better advisers on his team.