SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4) – He’s not officially running for president yet, but former Vice President Mike Pence sounded a lot like a candidate at an event held in Salt Lake City on Friday.

The prospective presidential candidate sat down with former Utah Governor Gary Herbert at the Zions Bank building in downtown Salt Lake City.

“Hope is on the way. I truly do believe we are 18 months away from a great American comeback,” said Pence in a room filled with local business and community leaders.

The two discussed a number of topics relevant to the presidential election, including what Pence said were potential threats such as China and national debt.

“China is today the greatest strategic and economic threat,” Pence said.

Pence said this is followed by the overwhelming national debt here at home. He stated that there’s a need to cut entitlement spending, close the borders, and restore civility in our political discourse.

“Our politics is more divided today than any time in my lifetime, and I’m not convinced the American people are as divided as our politics,” Pence said.

Stopping short of committing to a run, the tone and atmosphere were reminiscent. “All the things we heard today are very much the kind of messages you would hear from someone who is seriously considering running for office. I think we almost heard everything except for that,” Hinckley Institute of Politics director Jason Perry said.

Governor Herbert says Pence would be a strong competitor if he ran. It would set up a showdown between Pence and his former boss, Donald Trump, among others.

“That would be worth watching. Get your popcorn and sit back and watch. I think Mike Pence will conduct himself with professionalism and good decorum, goodwill. It will be a contrast probably in personalities and approaches,” Herbert said.

This visit came one day after Pence spent hours testifying before a grand jury. It was the first time in modern history a vice president has been compelled to testify.

Pence couldn’t say much about his court testimony due to legal reasons, but Pence said he did his duty in certifying the election on January 6, 2021.

That statement drew a standing ovation.