AMES, Iowa — Brett Barker wanted a well-known name to headline the Story County GOP Lincoln Highway Dinner. Mike Pence is a well-known name, of course. But would the former vice-president of the United States come to Iowa? Barker thought it was worth a try.

It helps that Pence is thinking about running for president in 2024 and Iowa seems all-but-certain to host the nation’s first-in-the-nation caucuses. (Democrats are another matter).

“We are always looking for speakers to come to Story County,” Barker said, “…so any time there’s a prominent official or leader that’s coming to Iowa, I try to get connections to them.”

Barker said that his team worked with Pence’s staff since the winter to finalize a visit.

For the Story County GOP, the intrigue and curiosity focused on Pence’s past and future helped fill a room of about 100 people on Saturday, April 23rd. “It’s the first large event that we’ve had the opportunity to host since COVID,” Barker explained.

Pence refused to join President Donald Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election. A mob of Trump supporters attacked law enforcement and vandalized property at the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6, 2021. Some called for Pence to be hanged for failing to support Trump’s call to stop Congress from certifying the election results. Pence later called the violence that ensued that day “a dark day in the history of the U.S. Capitol.”

Pence hasn’t announced yet that he is officially running for president in 2024. He also hasn’t said that he

won’t.

(Mike Pence talks with people at the Story County GOP Lincoln Highway Dinner on April 23rd. Photo courtesy: Dave Price).

Brett Barker explains what’s behind the decision to grow his long beard.