Get to know Vice President Candidate Mike Pence

Donald Trump introduced Gov. Mike Pence as his vice presidential candidate on July 16, 2016. (WISH photo)
Donald Trump introduced Gov. Mike Pence as his vice presidential candidate on July 16, 2016. (WISH photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Indiana Governor Mike Pence will stand beside Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in the 2016 general election. So, who is Pence and what has he done for Indiana since being elected governor in 2012?

Pence grew up in Columbus Indiana. He attended Hanover College and later graduated from Indiana University Law School in 1986. In 1985 he married his wife Karen. The couple has three children.

His first run for congress was unsuccessful in 1988 and 1990. Both times he lost to Democrat Phil Sharp.

After losing he became a radio talk show host in the early 90s. The show, called “The Mike Pence Show” aired on WRCR-FM in Rushville.

In 2000, he ran again for congress and won. During his tenure in congress he rose to a GOP leadership position.

In Congress, Pence sponsored a few bills that became law as amendments in other legislation. But he built a national following among conservatives for his willingness to buck his own party after opposing President George W. Bush’s Medicare expansion and the No Child Left Behind education overhaul. During the early years of President Barack Obama’s administration, Pence helped lead the opposition to the Democrat’s agenda.

24-Hour News 8 political reporter Jim Shella recalls interviewing Terry Jeffrey from Human Events when Pence was named “Man of the Year” in 2005.

Pence was emerging as a national leader in the conservative movement. Jeffery even said that Pence would move on to high levels of leadership in the future. Now, the prediction doesn’t seem so farfetched.

In 2006, Pence was unsuccessful with his bid for minority leader. Just two years later he was picked for Republican conference chairman.

Pence officially announced he would run for Indiana governor in 2011. He narrowly won over Democrat John Gregg.

Since becoming governor he’s brought in big tax cuts, but many know him for his national attention on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that he signed into law in March 2015.

The bill was signed during a private ceremony despite calls to veto it. In news conferences leading up to the signing Pence touted the media for wrongfully portraying the bill. He said that calling the bill a consolation prize for the people who lost the gay marriage fight is inaccurate but in a photo from the bill signing he posed with the three most vocal opponents of gay marriage, Micah Clark, Eric Miller and Curt Smith.

At that time 19 other states had a similar religious freedom laws, including Illinois.

The controversial bills didn’t end after RFRA. He also signed a new abortion restriction and issued a ban on Syrian immigration in the same month.

While governor he also signed the state’s first pre-K funding program. In 2016, the state’s budget was in surplus of $2 billion. However, critics say the state has below thE national average for wages.

Long before Pence was picked as the Vice Presidential candidate, 24-Hour News 8’s political reporter Jim Shella remembers that Pence was mentioned as a potential candidate for President in 2016 and that was back in 2014.

During the Indiana primaries both Senator Ted Cruz and Donald Trump praised Pence at Indiana campaign rallies. Which spoke to the value of Pence’s endorsement. Before he revealed his choice, he voiced praise for Donald Trump and promised to support the GOP nominee. In the end Pence picked Cruz, even saying he might campaign with him.

It seemed Pence’s pick didn’t give Cruz as much power with Indiana voters. Trump was projected to win the May primaries and Cruz dropped out of the race. Just days later Pence vowed that he would support Trumps campaign.

Early in July, a report stated that Pence had a 95 percent chance of becoming Trump’s VP running mate and just five days later Trump made the official announcement in New York.

Pence was thrust into the spotlight while some were still trying to learn who he is. However, many say it’s a good match.

Pence’s congressional experience is one trait that Trump, who has never held public office, wanted in a running mate.

Where Trump is impulsive, Pence is cool-headed. Where Trump makes conservatives suspicious, Pence has credibility. And where Trump struggles to draw evangelical Christians, Pence is well-regarded by them.

“One thing you can say about Mike Pence is he’s got a very calm, steady demeanor that in some ways is a little Reaganesque,” said Christine Mathews, a Republican pollster for former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels told the Associated Press. “He’s a counterbalance to Trump in that way.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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