Pence group announces ad campaign in Iowa congressional district

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Former Vice President Mike Pence’s political advocacy group on Tuesday announced a new ad campaign targeting a competitive Iowa congressional race and focusing on energy policy.

Advancing American Freedom is spending six figures on the ads. They will air on cable and digitally in Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District, which is represented by Rep. Cindy Axne (D). The ad, titled “Clueless,” criticizes the Biden administration’s push to transition to renewable energy and calls for boosting domestic energy production.

In order to set the United States back on a path of energy independence, we need Congress to support American energy production,” Pence said in a statement. “It’s time for President Biden to demonstrate American strength by restarting the Keystone Pipeline, restoring oil and natural gas leases, and standing up for American energy.”

Axne is running against Republican Zach Nunn in November after Nunn, a state senator, emerged from a June primary. Axne has represented the district since 2019, and she won reelection in 2020 by less than 7,000 votes.

The Cook Political Report rates the district as “lean Republican.”

The ad in the Iowa district is part of a broader $10 million campaign funded by Advancing American Freedom that is broadly focused on energy independence and hitting Democrats over energy policy shifts away from the Trump administration.

Republicans have criticized Democrats and the Biden administration over rising gas prices and inflation in general for months. But the price of gas has steadily declined over the past several weeks. The average price of gas as of Tuesday was $3.84, according to AAA, down from an average of $4.23 one month ago.

The former vice president has been a frequent presence in Iowa this year, including a visit to the state fair earlier this month. Pence is widely seen as a potential presidential candidate in a 2024 GOP primary, visiting early voting states like Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina multiple times.

A USA Today-Ipsos poll conducted Aug. 18-22 found that 69 percent of Republican voters view Pence favorably, second in the poll among Republicans only to former President Trump, whose favorability among GOP voters is 81 percent. The poll found Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), another potential 2024 candidate, with a 68 percent favorability among Republican voters.