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Mike Pence: Ex-Indiana governor playing on strong Republican credentials

Written by on 06/10/2020

The incumbent vice president was seen as a “safe bet” as running mate to Donald Trump in the 2016 US election.

Evangelical Christian Mike Pence is no stranger to American politics after four years as Indiana governor and 12 years in the House of Representatives.

The 61-year-old has largely remained out of the full spotlight during his term as the 48th vice president, but will get the chance to state his credentials as he fronts the re-election campaign while Mr Trump recovers from coronavirus. Who is Mike Pence?

Born in 1959 in Columbus, Indiana, Mr Pence is one of six children born to Edward Pence – a US Army veteran who owned a string of petrol stations – and Nancy Pence.

He was brought up as a Catholic, and his family were Democrat supporters, with Mr Pence citing John F Kennedy as a big influence on him.

After high school, he earned a degree in history from Hanover College in 1981, before attending law school at Indiana University/Purdue University in 1986. It was at college that he became a born again Christian.

Mike Pence and his wife Karen at the 2014 IPL 500 Festival Parade in Indianapolis
Image: Mike Pence and his wife Karen at the 2014 IPL 500 Festival Parade in Indianapolis
Mike Pence

He married Karen in 1985 after meeting her at law school. They have three adult children.

More from Mike Pence

He first ran for Congress in 1988 and lost to Democrat Philip Sharp. He lost to him again two years later, and subsequently penned an essay entitled Confessions of a Negative Campaigner in which he vowed to no longer run attack advertisements against rivals.

Following this defeat, he began hosting a daily radio talk show – The Mike Pence Show – which he fronted until he stood for office again in 1999.

This time he was successful, winning the seat in Indiana’s 2nd congressional district under his slogan “a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order”.

The Trump/Pence campaign hopes a boost to the US economy will help secure re-election
Image: The Trump/Pence campaign hopes a boost to the US economy will help secure re-election

While in the House of Representatives he rose through the Republican party ranks, becoming chairman of the influential Republican Study Committee and in 2009 chairman of the Republican Conference – making him the third highest ranked Republican.

In 2011, he stood as the Republican nominee for governor of Indiana and won the race with just less than 3% more of the vote than Democrat John Gregg.

Whilst governor of Indiana, he signed two particularly controversial laws.

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‘You won’t be safe in Biden’s America’

The first, known as the “religious objections” bill, was viewed as protecting business owners who did not want to participate in same-sex weddings.

Mr Pence was forced to amend the bill to allow exemptions for LGBTQ communities.

Republican ticket: Mike Pence and Donald Trump on the campaign trail in Virginia
Image: Republican ticket: Mike Pence and Donald Trump on the campaign trail in Virginia

In 2016, he also signed into law a ban on abortions based solely on the sex, race or disability diagnosis of a foetus. The bill was issued with a preliminary injunction by a federal court to block it taking effect, and was later ruled unconstitutional by the court of appeals.

Mr Trump chose Mr Pence as his running mate in the 2016 presidential election, and Mr Pence ended his Indiana governor re-election campaign as a result.

During his term as vice president, he has cast 13 tie-breaking votes in his dual constitutional role as president of the United States Senate – including to advance a bill to defund Planned Parenthood.

He has regularly defended the president’s policies and was appointed as leader of the White House coronavirus task force in February this year – facing criticism for not wearing a mask and for apparently misleading comments on the scale of the infection in the US.

 Sky News

© Sky News 2020

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