There have recently been a number of articles looking at Mike Pence as the dark-horse of GOP presidential politics. There seems to be little discussion that this is unlikely. An example of such a perception, of Pence as the "dark-horse" of GOP presidential politics, is the following article:
5 reasons Mike Pence might be the 2016 dark horse to watch | The Daily Caller.
I know the aricle has a number of qualifiers. They always do. But why consider him at all? There is even talk of former Governor Mitch Daniels being the GOP candidate. Both Pence and Daniels are political and personal friends and supporters. What is true of one slides right along with the other. He, Daniels, is President of Purdue University, establishing his credentials and biding his time for 2016. The idea for Daniels' run is his reputation as a cost cutter and, by 2016, his problems with his wife and marriage will be old history. Daniels, so the argument goes reestablish his credentials with his "new" developments in higher education, which would help Republicans in that arena.
Governor Pence is doing the same; but, in the Governor's seat rather than higher education. Both can in fact sit out the 2016 race and run in 2020, well employed and probably improving their positions. Although, I would argue that by 2020 they would not be in any better position. The problems they have today, as GOP candidates, will remain.
The question though is this all fantasy thinking on the part of the GOP or is there any real substance behind it. Mike Pence in his role as Governor of Indiana and Mitch Daniels in his role as a Big-10 university president, both entered their new positions espousing conservative and traditional values. One for the state level and the other for traditional and real higher education. Governor Mike Pence came in with, what he himself claimed, an uncompromising position of having a voter mandate to provide the taxpayers a 10% rebate on the total funds collected by the State. It did not happen. The conservative principle here is that the State was in too much of people's lives and there was a need to reign in the State of Indiana Government, somewhat on the Texas model. It did not happen. Although Pence's party had complete control of the Indiana House and Senate, he could not or would not make it happen. Partial principles are not principles.
Daniels did the same thing. He came in with a memorandum to the Purdue family full of desire to really bring higher education and its lack of constitutional rights into the principled life of the American Constitution. When he got some push back, he retreated or gave up. He even argued, in a column, that the Foundation of Individual Rights in Education, FIRE, would give Purdue a green light on his new policies to constitutional protections. He said the measure of his success, just as Pence said the 10% rebate would be, is FIRE upgrade of Purdue's policy in regards to the First Amendment. So far, FIRE and the AAUP have only criticized his primary rejection of his own memo and his lack of defense of any rights. Why would any conservative vote for these individuals in a primary?
That is the problem with both of them. It is the usual talking a good game; but no substantive actions. There has been plenty of that seen with the current president. Pence and Daniels are showing that there is not a substantive difference in their actions. It is probably true that they both can show that they are better administrators and managers in government than the current president. That will not get an election won.
They also electorally do not bring anything to the table. Indiana will go to the GOP candidate in the presidential race. Neither Pence or Daniels can help with other states in improving the GOP electoral map. The GOP needs to do itself a favor and to stop looking for the "dark horses." The GOP needs to concentrate on its conservative principles and values to win -- which it can. They need to ensure that everyone understands that it is the conservative position that make most people Americans and it is why immigrants come to America in the first place.