Sneed: Inside Mike Pence’s private meeting with big-money Republican fundraisers

It was clear Pence was testing the waters for a presidential bid, a source says, but he didn’t have to much to say about former President Trump.

SHARE Sneed: Inside Mike Pence’s private meeting with big-money Republican fundraisers

Former Vice President Mike Pence speaks Monday at the University Club of Chicago.

Jim Vondruska/Getty Images

Sit back. Lean in.

And kick back Hoosier-style with former veep Mike Pence at a hush-hush private sit-down with  fewer than 20 top Republican Party fundraisers and superfund donors last Monday.

The money muster was in advance of Pence’s headline-grabbing speech at the University Club of Chicago, ostensibly testing the waters for a possible 2024 presidential bid.

“Well, Pence got to talk about the Bible, moving back to Indiana and was definitely not wearing any old Trump ties,” said a GOP source who attended a small lunch at the Chicago Club benefiting the Illinois Victory Fund and featuring an exclusive  $25,000 VIP meet and greet.

“I don’t recall Pence mentioning Trump singularly,” the Sneed source said. “He just slid into becoming a very relaxed Hoosierville guy.

“But it was pretty obvious Pence was gearing up preparation for a possible presidential bid,” the source said, noting that U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood, R-Ill., the National Republican Party finance chairman, and Ron Gidwitz, who is raising money to essentially unseat Dem powerhouse U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, were there.

Pummeled with praise by Cubs co-owner Todd Ricketts, a major Donald Trump supporter, and slathered with “man of faith” salutations by GOP gubernatorial candidate Jesse Sullivan, Pence then sat at a rectangular table and pontificated without notes.

It’s  where the former veep privately pitched his version of Pence sense.

The Bible was a big topic.

Here are tidbits from the Pence lunch:

  • Pence referred to President Joe Biden as “Joe.”
  • He joked about retirement back in Indiana, where he now has to wait 20 to 25 minutes to be seated at an Olive Garden. “You can be veep and still wait in line,”  he said.
  • Laughed about having to drive his own car and buy his own gas at a “painful six bucks as gallon! Thanks, Joe!”
  • Said there were “four words to unite the  Republicans after the primary next week: Joe, Kamala, Chuck and Nancy.”
  • Called the border battle his greatest disappointment leaving Washington, saying how close “we” were to ending “illegal” immigration and expounding on a now-open border with millions coming across “being given the OK to cross from drug cartel-manned watchtowers from the other side of the border.”
  • Said “each passing day” and “the older he gets” confirm his conviction of “the truth of the Bible.” Pence, who was raised Roman Catholic, called the Bible a “predictor of the future” and said he is more secure in his current evangelical Protestant faith than ever.

At a Faith and Freedom Coalition gathering in Tennessee of evangelical social conservatives days before Pence’s Chicago speech, Trump called Pence “weak” and “afraid” for resisting efforts to block certification of the Electoral College vote count. Pence declined an invitation to the Faith and Freedom gathering, citing a scheduling conflict.

Sneed is told Pence never did a deep dive into the economy at the private Chicago Club lunch, nor did he mention the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection or his decision to proceed with the transfer of presidential power despite pressure from Trump to decertify the vote.

Bow wow...

Surprising how the bloodhound that just won “Best in Show” at the Westminster dog show was named Trumpet. Get it? Forget it.

The Daley report…

Home at last.

Former Mayor Richard M. Daley was released from the Shirley Ryan Ability Lab last week following a stint at Northwestern Memorial Hospital earlier this month after feeling “out of sorts” and “disoriented.”

Daley had been with  his daughter Nora Daley Conroy at his home downtown when his medical problem arose. “The family continues to be concerned about his health,” a source said.

Though no diagnosis has been released,  the 80-year-old former mayor was treated for stroke-like symptoms affecting his speech in February 2014 and has maintained a private lifestyle since leaving City Hall in 2011.

Sneed is told Daley has been skipping political events and refusing interview requests for his take on rising crime in Chicago.


Saturday birthdays: actress Angela Kinsey, 51; comedian Ricky Gervais, 61; and former NBA player Dell Curry, 58. Sunday birthdays: singer Ariana Grande, 29; football player Michael Vick, 42; and baseball great Derek Jeter, 48.

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