ABC News’ Rick Klein reports: Rep. Mike Pence this week left his post in House leadership, with the wide presumption that he’ll run for president or for governor of Indiana in 2012. He told us on ABC’s “Top Line” that he’ll make up his mind “sometime early next year,” and said that while “I just love” Sarah Palin, her decision on whether to run won’t impact his. “Our decision is going to be wholly dependent on taking the time to prayerfully consider where we can make the most difference on the conservative values that brought us to Washington to begin with,” said Pence, R-Ind. “So really our decision is a really personal decision. It’s about where we feel a call to serve. But with regards to Sarah Palin — she’s a force of nature. I just can’t help it — I just love her. I just think she’s got a bold and courageous voice for conservative values. She doesn’t apologize and I like her style.” He added, “We’ll make that decision, I really believe with all my heart, not as a reflection of who else is running, but what we feel a call to do.” Pence also rejected the notion that House Republicans should keep its focus on economic issues at the expense of social issues. “People are always saying, ‘should it be spending or social issues?’ How about both?” Pence said. “How about, let’s deny all federal funding to Planned Parenthood of America? That would save $350 million right off the top. I have to tell you as I travel around the country, the American people — millions of Americans, more every day — are offended that the largest abortion provider in America is also the largest recipient of federal funding under Title 10.” And Pence announced that he’s filed a bill to permanently extend all of the Bush tax cuts, in an attempt to push the issue during the lame-duck session of Congress, where Democrats still control both the House and the Senate. We also checked in with our ABC News political director, Amy Walter, from San Diego, where she’s attending the meeting of the Republican Governors Association – something for a tryout for potential 2012ers.
Walter got Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s take on whether Michael Steele should stay on as chairman of the Republican National Committee, and Pawlenty, R-Minn., is among those expressing concern over that prospect.