(CNSNews.com) - Conservative Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) has not endorsed incumbent House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) to keep his leadership status in the next Congress, and if a more conservative member of Congress challenges Boehner for the post, Pence will not endorse Boehner, the Indiana congressman told CNSNews.com on Monday.
Pence added, however, that since he ran against Boehner for minority leader in 2006, Boehner has been an effective advocate for conservative issues.
“I want this to be very clear, because there has been some confusion,” Pence told CNSNews.com in an exclusive interview. “I have not endorsed John Boehner, and if he draws a conservative opponent, he knows that I will not endorse him in that race.”
Nonetheless, “I saw John Boehner lead the [Republican] conference very effectively preventing a precipitous withdrawal from Iraq from passing through the House, supporting our efforts to defund Planned Parenthood, and supporting the gas price protests,” Pence said.
“In the last two years I found consistent support of the conservative initiatives that I and other Republican Study Committee (RSC) members were presenting in the House,” he said.
Pence and GOP sources on Capitol Hill told CNSNews.com that despite the loss of 19 seats in last week’s elections, there is no known challenger to Boehner.
Conservative activists and sources inside Congress have called for a change in the GOP leadership since the elections. Conservative Richard Viguerie called on the entire House Republican leadership to resign last week.
After Republican losses in the House in 2006, Pence ran against Boehner for minority leader, stating that “Republicans had not only lost their majority but lost their way.”
Pence said on Monday that he thinks “we have started to find our way back but that we now need a renewed commitment to articulate and practice conservative principles from the floor of Congress to the airwaves of America.”
In the meantime, Boehner has endorsed Pence’s candidacy to become House Republican Conference chairman.
“We need him at the leadership table in the 111th Congress,” Boehner said on Nov. 6.
Pence said if he wins the position, he plans to help lead House Republicans in a conservative direction.
“If I am privileged to serve I will look forward to working with and contributing to what I think will be a consensus move back to conservative values regardless of who the leader is,” Pence said.