Who is Donald Trump's new running mate Mike Pence?
Donald Trump introduced Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate on Saturday, calling the best choice for a winning presidential campaign. Earlier this week, Pence tweeted that he was “Honored to join @realDonaldTrump and work to make America great again” after the announcement was made public.
So who exactly is Mike Pence and how will he help Trump “make America great again”? CTVNews.ca takes a look at the man who will be running alongside the Republican presidential nominee this election season.
The 57-year-old long-time politician served six terms in Congress before becoming the governor of Indiana in 2013. During his time in Congress, Pence developed a reputation as a staunch conservative who wasn’t afraid to go against his own party over principle. He opposed former president George W. Bush’s Medicare expansion and the No Child Left Behind education act. During the early days of President Obama’s administration, he led the charge against the Democrat’s agenda.
“He has a particularly strong talent, a gift if you will, for being able to stick to principle while making his political opponents or those who disagree with him feel like they are being heard and respected," Ryan Streeter, a former Pence aide and George W. Bush staffer, said.
Trump has never held public office so Pence’s congressional experience should be beneficial during the campaign.
Pence’s one term as governor of Indiana has been more tumultuous than his career in Congress, especially in terms of social issues. In March 2015, he signed “the religious objections” bill which allowed businesses to deny service to gay people for religious reasons. The move alienated moderate republicans and created a national backlash which forced the state to make changes to the bill.
Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, and her team have been quick to dismiss Pence for his social views.
“By picking Mike Pence as his running mate, Donald Trump has doubled down on some of his most disturbing beliefs by choosing an incredibly divisive and unpopular running mate," John Podesta, Clinton's campaign chairman, said.
This year, Pence was at odds with the local Catholic archdiocese over the settlement of Syrian refugees in Indiana. Despite the controversy, he is credited with presiding over the state’s improved economy, lower taxes and falling unemployment rate.
How Pence will help Trump:
During his time in congress, Pence established deep ties to the White House and he will be able to help Trump navigate his way around Capitol Hill. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said that Pence has experience inside and outside Washington and shows a lot of maturity. Trump is appeasing many Republican leaders by choosing a favoured traditional politician with a conservative record.
A former Pence aide and top Koch brothers worker, Marc Short, agrees that the former congressman’s political experience will go a long way in helping Trump.
"He's worked with (House Speaker) Paul Ryan. He's worked with the team in House leadership,” Short said. “He's somebody who has deep relationships in the evangelical movement, and he's somebody who has foreign affairs experience."
Presidential campaigns are expensive, even for a billionaire real estate mogul, so Pence’s proven fundraising record and close ties to the influential Koch brothers and their wealthy donors will prove particularly advantageous to the Trump team in the months ahead.
Lastly, Pence’s popularity with evangelical Christians, particularly after his support for Indiana’s religious objections bill, will help Trump with the evangelical Christian vote, which has continued to elude him during his campaign.
Pence was raised in Columbus, Indiana in an Irish-Catholic family. He grew up admiring the Kennedys and he even admitted to voting for former president Jimmy Carter in 1980. Pence’s religious beliefs eventually evolved and he became a born again Christian evangelist. He later joined the Republican party after being inspired by former president Ronald Reagan.
Pence has made his religious beliefs a priority throughout his political career, describing himself as, “a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order.” He deepened his ties to evangelical Christians and social conservatives when he signed the law affecting gays in Indiana. Pence opposes same-sex marriage and civil unions. He has been married to his wife Karen since 1985 and they have three children together.
With files from The Associated Press