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FIRST ON FOX: Former Vice President Mike Pence will head back to Iowa next week, where he’ll be the featured speaker at a prominent Republican family’s annual gathering.
Pence’s trip to Iowa will mark his second visit in a month to the state that for a half century has kicked off the presidential nominating calendar, another potential signal that the former vice president is moving towards launching a 2024 White House campaign.
Pence will headline the 15th annual Kaufmann Family Harvest Dinner, which will be held Thursday, Sept. 29, in Wilton, a small town in eastern Iowa. Word of his visit was shared first nationally with Fox News on Thursday.
The gathering was launched by longtime Republican Part of Iowa chairman Jeff Kaufmann during his years as a state lawmaker. The dinner is now hosted by his son, state Rep. Bobby Kaufmann. Money raised at the event — which will attract other Republican state legislative leaders and candidates — will go towards the younger Kaufmann’s 2022 re-election fund.
An invitation to the 15th annual Kaufmann Family Harvest Dinner, which will be held next Thursday, Sept. 29, in Wilton, Iowa. (Kaufmann Family Harvest Dinner)
“Bobby Kaufmann has been a champion for Iowa, his district, and the conservative movement,” Pence said in a statement. “I look forward to joining Bobby at the Kaufmann Family Harvest Dinner and meeting Republicans from his district to discuss our shared conservative values and vision for Iowa’s future.”
Chairman Kaufmann emphasized in a statement that “having national leaders like Vice President Pence visit small rural towns like Wilton really gets to the heart of what Iowa truly is. Iowans in every town across the state get to ask tough questions and meet candidates face to face.”
Former Vice President Mike Pence speaks to reporters during a visit to the Iowa State Fair, Friday, Aug. 19, 2022, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Pence is no stranger to Iowa. He has already made four visits to the state since his tenure as vice president came to a close at the end of former President Trump’s administration in January of last year. Pence made a busy two-day swing through the Hawkeye State in August, including a visit to the Iowa State Fair, which is a must-stop for potential or actual White House contenders.
Last week, Pence made his fifth trip over the past year and a half to New Hampshire, the state that for a century has held the first primary in the presidential nominating calendar. Pence headlined a fundraiser for former Army Gen. Don Bolduc, who a day earlier captured the GOP Senate nomination in the small but crucial general election battleground state. And last month the former vice president headlined “Politics and Eggs” at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics — another must-stop for White House hopefuls — during a jam-packed swing through the Granite State.
Former Vice President Mike Pence headlines a fundraiser for New Hampshire GOP Senate nominee Don Bolduc, on Sept. 14, 2022 in Wilton, New Hampshire. (Fox News)
Pence, who has been busy this year crisscrossing the country to campaign and help raise money for Republicans running in the 2022 elections, has also made multiple stops since early 2021 in South Carolina, which holds the third contest — and first southern primary — in the Republican presidential nominating calendar.
The former vice president has been making the moves, such as building relationships in the early voting presidential primary and caucus states, that often precede the launch of an actual White House campaign.
Publicly, Pence has told Fox News and other news organizations numerous times when asked about 2024 that after the midterm elections are over, “we’ll do as our family has always done. We’ll reflect and pray and consider where we might next serve.”
Paul Steinhauser is a politics reporter based in New Hampshire.