- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Former Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday launched Advancing American Freedom, an advocacy group with the mission of promoting and defending policy achievements of the Trump administration.

Mr. Pence joins a growing list of Trump alumni who have returned to the political trenches leading advocacy groups tasked with preserving the legacy of their former boss and fighting President Biden and the rise of the “radical left.”

“Advancing American Freedom plans to build on the success of the last four years by promoting traditional conservative values and promoting the successful policies of the Trump administration,” Mr. Pence said. “Conservatives will not stand idly by as the radical left and the new administration attempt to threaten America’s standing as the greatest nation in the world with their destructive policies.”

The former vice president has kept a low profile since leaving office, but the news of his latest venture and a book deal, first reported by Axios, suggest he is preparing to play a more vocal role in the Republican Party and policy debates in Washington.

Mr. Pence made the announcement the same day that former Trump adviser Stephen Miller started a conservative group called America First Legal, which plans to team up with state attorneys general to combat the Biden administration’s immigration agenda.

“For too long, conservative and traditionalist Americans have been outflanked, outspent, out-organized and outmaneuvered by radical progressive legal organizations. It has been a yearslong, one-sided legal assault,” Mr. Miller said.

“While radical progressives have wielded these tactics to undermine the law and ‘America First’ values for years, we must deploy these tactics in defense of our nation’s legal, cultural and constitutional heritage,” he said.

Liberal groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union succeeded in obstructing or reversing Trump administration policies in the courts, and Mr. Miller, who helped shape the Trump administration’s immigration policies, wants his group to do the same.

The ACLU sued the Trump administration 400 times in four years. Many of the challenges were against policies related to immigration and abortion.

Mr. Trump praised Mr. Miller in a press release from his Save America PAC. He described his former immigration guru as a “fearless, principled fighter for the America First movement” and said “he has backbone, integrity and never gives up.”

Mr. Trump’s PAC did not issue a press release after Mr. Pence’s announcement but did release a statement to The Washington Examiner.

“It was the most successful first term in American history,” Mr. Trump said. “Nice to see Mike highlighting some of our many achievements!”

Mr. Pence served as Mr. Trump’s loyal wingman for four years, helping to shield him from some of the unease in the Republican ranks over the president’s brash and unconventional approach to the job.

The relationship was tested as Mr. Trump pursued his claims of massive election fraud.

He pressured Mr. Pence to take the unprecedented step as vice president of unilaterally throwing out electoral votes when Congress met in January to certify the election results.

Mr. Pence refused and was slammed as a sellout by the Trump faithful, including members of the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 to protest the 2020 election results.

Mr. Pence’s team downplays the friction. He said the two men have talked multiple times, including last week about Mr. Pence’s new group.

A number of former Trump officials and confidants, meanwhile, have struck out on their own to form various organizations and foundations. Others are seeking elected office.

Former White House press secretary Sara Huckabee Sanders is running for governor of Arkansas, and Ben Carson, former secretary of Housing and Urban Development, has established the American Cornerstone Institute.

His group is “dedicated to promoting and preserving individual and religious liberty.”

“It seems that many of the fundamental principles that led to our rise are being pushed aside,” Mr. Carson told Andy Parks at The Washington Times. “Things like faith, things like liberty, community and life.”

Some more controversial figures also are testing Trump ties.

Lawyer L. Lin Wood, who helped spread Mr. Trump’s claims of a stolen election in Georgia, is campaigning to unseat Drew McKissick as chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party.

Mr. Pence is leaning into his Trump connection as well by filling out the advisory board of Advancing American Freedom with several former Trump hands, including Kellyanne Conway, Larry Kudlow and David Bernhardt.

The board also features familiar conservative leaders, including Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Rep. David McIntosh, head of the limited-government organization Club for Growth.

“In four years, the Trump-Pence administration laid a foundation of prosperity and innovation that is driving a great American comeback,” Mr. Pence said in an op-ed Thursday in The Washington Times.

“But from their first day in office, the Biden administration and congressional Democrats adopted a radically different approach — one that expands the power of the federal government and elevates left-wing ideology over common sense, and threatens America’s future like never before.

“If unchallenged, the radical left will squander America’s future with more government, more regulation, more illegal immigration, more limits on individual freedom and a steady march towards socialism,” he said. “For conservatives and reasonable people of all political persuasions, now is the time to stand up for freedom.”

• Ryan Lovelace contributed to this report.

• Seth McLaughlin can be reached at smclaughlin@washingtontimes.com.

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