On a drizzly day in December, Indianapolis talk radio host Rob Kendall railed against Mike Pence on his radio show, “Kendall & Casey.”
“For 20 consecutive years, Mike Pence has been in public office. What is the signature accomplishment of Mike Pence? Anyone? Anybody?” he asked.
Kendall didn’t hold back when asked in January what he thought of Pence maybe running for president in 2024.
“He accomplished next to nothing while he was governor,” he said. “He got saved by Trump. And, what else is he going to do? What applicable skill set does he have and what has he done in the private sector his entire life?”
Of course, he could get some other kind of job.
“Yeah, but Mike Pence doesn’t do a job in the sense where like he produces things,” Kendall said. “If you told Mike Pence he had to turn a profit on a Wendy’s near a crowded interstate for a week, I don’t think he could do it.”
Even Republican loyalists in Indiana seem to have tired of Pence.
“I’m much more DeSantis than I am Pence,” said Chris Callaway, a former county GOP chairman in Monroe County in southern Indiana. “Pence was good for Trump as a running mate because he balanced Trump out with evangelicals. On his own, Pence is nothing.”
He called Pence a “very, very poor successor to Mitch Daniels as governor of Indiana.”
Pence as the nominee in 2024?
“I don’t see it,” he said.
Rocky Rice, the owner of a pizza shop in Bloomington, knows Pence personally and once rode horses with him for two hours, side-by-side. While they rode, he asked Pence why he backed down on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Pence replied, “That’s politics,” Rice said.
“He backpedaled on it and let it go through instead of standing true to his beliefs,” Rice said. “He backpedaled on that and gave in. If you get elected because of your beliefs and your stances on stuff, you should stay true to that.”
On the job Pence did as vice president, Rice said he thought Pence did OK but that he “turned his back” on Donald Trump at the end.
“That was his boss. What’s he going to do to us?” he said. “And I think a lot of people, they don’t lose that stereotype. That’s just my opinion.”
Amy Rainey, who ran for state legislature in Elkhart County, Ind. last year, said her opinion of Pence has shifted in the last few years and said she is no longer a strong supporter.
“Things were handed to him, businesses, and he ran them into the ground,” she said. “He didn’t really have any personal accomplishments where you could say, ‘Hey, this guy has done a great job at this or that.’”
Even in Pence’s hometown of Columbus, Republican voters aren’t sure if Pence would be their No. 1 pick for president in 2024. Donna Stambaugh, who said she went to high school with Pence, calls him a “great guy” and a “great person” who would be on her short list but probably not at the top of it.
“I think I like Ron DeSantis actually a little bit more because, honestly, sometimes Mike may be almost too nice of a guy,” she said.
As president, she said she thinks Pence would be fair.
“But I’m not sure he completely understands the circumstances that we’re in right now in the country,” she said. “I’m just not sure that he’s going to be comfortable playing hardball with people. It’s just not his nature.”