A Pence ally granted anonymity to assess the campaign frankly said he plans to stay in the race despite what this person said was a “brutal” fundraising quarter for Pence.
“That debt number is gonna be impossible to pay back,” the Pence ally said. “When he drops out he’s going to have to do debt-retirement fundraisers.”
A neutral Iowa Republican operative, granted anonymity to assess Pence’s campaign frankly, said it was difficult to see how Pence would make it to Iowa and its evangelical-rich caucuses.
“Sounds like a medium-sized Senate race,” this person said of Pence’s fundraising haul. In fact, some Republicans close to Pence had urged him to weigh a bid for Indiana’s open Senate seat in 2024 instead of seeking the presidency — an overture Pence declined.
A Pence campaign spokesperson declined to comment.
Pence has been sharply critical of higher-polling GOP candidates in recent weeks on everything from foreign policy to social security, lambasting the likes of former President Donald Trump, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy.
Barely registering in polls of New Hampshire Republican primary voters, Pence returned to the first primary state this past weekend to cap off a two-day cattle call attended by nearly every GOP presidential hopeful except for his former boss. He was swarmed for photos on the way into and on the way out of the Nashua Sheraton. But when he actually hit the stage, Pence was speaking to a not-even half-full ballroom of GOP activists that had been full the night before for DeSantis, Nikki Haley and Ramaswamy.
If Pence is daunted by his odds, he did his best not to show it in that Nashua ballroom.
“I hope you can pick it up in my voice: I’m very excited about the future. I’m very optimistic about the future,” he said. “Because I have faith.”
Lisa Kashinsky contributed to this report.