Speaking to the Federalist Society Friday, Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) outlined both his view of the presidency and what he feels are the job’s constitutional parameters. And he contrasted those views with the actions of the current administration.
While Pence’s future plans regarding the presidency are uncertain, even perhaps to himself and his family at this point, he made clear to the audience his respect for the office and its limitations.
A president’s role, Pence said, is not to transform but to bear the weight of decision and requires humility and incessant attention to what is set forth in the Constitution. In fact, Pence said a president’s attitude toward the Constitution and Declaration of Independence should be to dwell on the documents like an obsessed “lover.”
“It sets the tone for the other branches,” Pence said of the office, but added, “We are a people not to be ruled and not to be commanded.”
He contrasted this view with a statement from President Obama’s transition team when they spoke of Obama needing to be “prepared to really take power and begin to rule, Day 1.”
Then, without referring Obama by name, Pence listed several “don’ts” for the presidency that touched on some of the controversies in the current occupant’s first term: don’t bow to kings; don’t criticize the Constitution in foreign lands; don’t argue the case against the U.S., but the case for it; and when you go to war, you go to win.
He said the source of presidential dignity came from that same place which caused Calvin Coolidge to write after the death of his son that all the power and glory of the presidency paled in importance.
But Pence still did not say whether he would run in 2012 for the presidency or for governor of Indiana, a decision news reports have said won’t come till after the first of the year. He reaffirmed that he stepped down from his leadership position in the House to figure out the best way to make the biggest difference “for the values that matter most to us.”
“Regardless of our plans, it’s essential that Republicans in Congress today keep the promises that we made to the American people,” Pence said, mentioning limited government, a pathway towards a balanced federal budget, and policies that support American values and the troops.