|By STEVE PEOPLES, Associated Press|
"I'm more convinced than I've ever been in my life that the cure for what ails this country will come more from our nation's state capitals than it ever will from our nation's capital," Pence, a former congressman, told a packed hotel ballroom shortly after donors paid
The comments came at the
Pence declared that
He used humor to distance himself from an unpopular
Pence may be less known on the national stage, but Republican operatives suggest he could emerge as a major player in the 2016 contest should he run.
"He's got presidential qualities,"
As he mulls a
He has also been strengthening ties to Republicans in other states, headlining events for the
At the same time, he's bolstering his foreign policy credentials. The
Pence took repeated swipes at Obama's international leadership on Thursday. "The foreign policy of this administration has made the world less safe," he said, "and must be replaced with a policy of peace through strength."
Pence is popular with
Pence also has strong ties to billionaire conservative donors
Elected to his first term as governor in 2012, Pence had weighed a challenge to Obama's re-election. He has been saying for months that he is "listening" to national conservatives interested in seeing him make a presidential bid.
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