Is Mike Pence Paving the Way for a Presidential Run?

Hours after Republicans swept the House, Rep. Mike Pence announced that he will step down from his third-ranking post in House Republican leadership. The six-term Indiana congressman has been GOP Conference Chairman for two years. He's made recent trips to Iowa and New Hampshire, key presidential caucus states, that have prompted speculation that he's considering a 2012 run.

His resignation from House leadership advances this possibility, though at least one rumor is also circulating that he wants to run for governor of Indiana. Pence is quite popular among social conservatives; matched up against Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, and Mike Huckabee, he won the Values Voter Summit straw poll for president in September.

Already in line to take Pence's place as GOP Conference Chair: Tea Party favorite Michele Bachmann and Eric Cantor ally Jeb Hensarling.

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Nicole Allan is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.

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