FIRST ON FOX – Former Vice President Mike Pence returns next month to Iowa – the state whose caucuses lead off the GOP presidential nominating calendar – to take part in an annual motorcycle ride that benefits veterans, as he gears up for his expected entry into the 2024 Republican presidential nomination race.
Fox News has learned that Pence will ride in Sen. Joni Ernst’s, R-Iowa, annual ‘Roast and Ride’ motorcycle ride on Saturday, June 3 – a vital stop on the Iowa Republican political calendar. The event this year benefits the Freedom Foundation, an organization supporting veterans based in Cedar Rapids.
Ernst, who served in the Iraq War during her more than two decades as an officer in the Iowa Army National Guard, has invited all the confirmed and potential GOP White House contenders to take part in her annual ride through parts of Des Moines and ensuing rally at the Iowa State Fairgrounds.
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Among those invited are former President Donald Trump, who is making his third straight White House run and is currently the overwhelming front-runner in the Republican primary battle, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who remains on the 2024 sidelines but is expected to launch a campaign in the coming weeks.
The senator announced last week that former Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina, who later served as ambassador to the United Nations in the Trump administration, would be participating in the ‘Roast and Ride.’
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In a statement announcing the former vice president’s participation in her ‘Roast and Ride,’ Ernst said that “as a fellow motorcycle fan, Mike will also be joining me on my Ride to benefit Iowa’s Freedom Foundation.”
Pence, who rode a Harley-Davidson motorcycle as the then-vice president took part Ernst’s event six years ago, said in a statement to Fox News on Monday that “wherever Joni Ernst asks me to be, I will be.”
He continued: “As proud parents of a Marine pilot, Karen and I understand the importance of giving back to organizations like Cedar Rapids’ own Freedom Foundation, an incredible veterans support charity. I am honored that Joni has once again asked me to join her annual Roast and Ride and look forward to being back with the people of Iowa soon!”
Pence, who’s made numerous trips to Iowa and the other early voting presidential nominating states the past two years, has said he’ll make a decision on launching a presidential campaign in the coming weeks.
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Taking aim at President Biden and the Democratic National Committee for their move earlier this year to bump Iowa from its leadoff position in the Democrats’ presidential nominating calendar, the senator emphasized that “even though Joe Biden and the national Democrats ditched Iowa, Republicans are maintaining our FIRST in the nation status. My annual Roast and Ride is THE event to be at in 2023. It’s the perfect opportunity to engage directly with Iowans from all corners of the state.”
Ernst launched her annual ride soon after winning election to the Senate in 2014. She said at the time that her goal was to showcase her party’s top candidates, just as former longtime Sen. Tom Harkin, of Iowa, had done with his annual “steak fry” for Democratic presidential hopefuls.
Ernst, along with the rest of Iowa’s all Republican congressional delegation, is staying neutral as the GOP presidential contenders battle in out in Iowa’s caucuses.
The senator, who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, is also hosting foreign policy and national security policy discussions with the White House hopefuls.
Both Haley and Pence have already taken part in the discussion that Ernst hosts with the Bastion Institute, a think tank whose goal is “to discuss the path toward strengthening America’s leadership and standing on the international stage.”