INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Indiana Gov. Mike Pence is in New York City and Democrats want to know if he is campaigning for president at taxpayer expense.
The governor is on a two day trip to New York and the stated purpose is economic development, but there may also be political benefits for Pence.
The trip is paid for by the Indiana Economic Development Commission, an agency that receives funding both from corporate contributions and state taxpayers.
In photos from the IEDC Twitter account, the governor can be seen on the streets of New York, in meetings with corporate executives and posing with the 14-member delegation that accompanied him.
But he can also be seen on Fox News being questioned about presidential ambitions.
“I’ve read recently some people have talked about me in other things,” Pence told an interviewer. “I’m going to stay completely focused on the future of the people of Indiana.”
“We don’t know where he’s focused and where he’s looking,” said State Democratic Chairman John Zody on Indiana Week in Review recently.
He demanded that the governor spell out his political plans while reacting to a Pence trade mission to Germany. Now the Democrats have a map on their website to track his travels and Zody wants to know who is paying the airfare.
“This is absolutely about 2016,” said Zody. “This is the latest iteration of his movement to raise speculation and keep his focus on where he and his political advisers want it to be, which is on his future as a possible presidential candidate.”
Pence did speak to the New York Meeting Monday night, a place where presidential hopefuls come to impress potential donors.
And his outgoing chief of staff left the door open to 2016 in a 24-Hour News 8 interview last month.
“Well, I think the governor’s always said that, you know, he doesn’t believe his life is his own,” said Bill Smith, “he’s open to wherever the future leads.”
And if he can convince some New York businessmen to relocate here, that won’t hurt his political prospects either.
Pence is hosting a reception in a suite at Yankee Stadium Tuesday evening. Commerce Secretary Victor Smith called from New York to say that while in New York the governor is telling an Indiana story and not a Mike Pence story.