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Kristol: Draft Pence!

10:26 AM, Dec 21, 2009 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
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Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana has issued an excellent statement on the health care bill. He calls it "Washington at its worst," and especially urges "Senators with the privilege of representing the great state of Indiana, to give special consideration to Hoosier families and their values and reject this bill." Pence continues, "The American people and the people of Indiana will remember which Senator stood for freedom and our values by opposing this legislation and which Senator followed the party line in support of a government takeover of health care."

Here's one way to help the people of Indiana remember: Mount a serious challenge to Indiana Senator Evan Bayh, who's up in 2010. And here's an obvious challenger: Mike Pence.

Sure, it's a long shot (Bayh got 62% of the vote in 2004). But if voters are as upset as they may well be, Pence could make the race competitive. If he won, he'd be a leading possibility for national office as soon as 2012. If he loses, but runs a respectable race-which surely he'll do-he'd have a good shot to succeed Mitch Daniels as governor in 2012.

It's true Pence would be giving up a safe congressional seat and a position in the House leadership. But there are already good young Republicans-Eric Cantor, Paul Ryan, et al.-in the House. An articulate, conservative first-term Senator who had knocked off a "safe" Democrat in a state Obama carried in 2008-that would be something...for Pence, for the GOP, and for conservatives nationwide.