If Trump was looking for an established Republican with Washington experience, Pence filled that position. He’s been in politics since 2000, when he was first elected to represent Indiana in the House. In 2012, he decided to run for Governor of the Hoosier State and defeated Democrat John R. Gregg.
Here’s a look at Pence’s life and career.
1. Pence Was a Talk Radio Show Host Before Going Into Politics
Pence was born in Columbus, Indiana, a city south of Indianapolis. He graduated from Hanover College in 1981 and went to law school at Indiana University. He practiced law as a private attorney before running for Congress in 1988 and 1990, losing both times.
Prior to his 2000 run, Pence moved to talk radio. USA Today notes that he began hosting The Mike Pence Show in 1992 and a Sunday morning talk show in Indianapolis. According to the Washington Post, Pence described his show as “Rush Limbaugh on decalf.”
2. Pence Is a Devout Christian & Controversially Approved ‘Religious Freedom Law’
Pence once said he is “a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order” when speaking at the 2010 Values Voter Summit. He’s anti-abortion and did support the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in the military. He also thinks that only marriage between a man and a woman should be allowed.
Easily the most controversial act of Pence’s political career is the uproar he caused last year by signing a Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law that some critics believed allowed businesses to discriminate against LGBT citizens. Pence tried to stand by the law, even writing an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. The bill allowed businesses to cite religious beliefs in a legal case.
Last week I signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, known as RFRA, which ensures that Indiana law will respect religious freedom and apply the highest level of scrutiny to any state or local governmental action that infringes on people’s religious liberty. Unfortunately, the law has stirred a controversy and in recent days has been grossly misconstrued as a “license to discriminate.
However, mounting pressure lead to the Indiana General Assembly quickly passing a different version of the law, which Pence quickly signed. According to the Huffington Post, the revision makes it clear that it does not give businesses the right to deny services to LGBT citizens.
Pence also sparked the push against Planned Parenthood in the Republican party, calling for the government to de-fund the organization. In 2016, he signed a law to make it illegal for women to get an abortion because a fetus has a disability. That was later overturned by a federal judge though.
3. Pence Voted for the Iraq Resolution & Frequently Traveled to Iraq & Afghanistan
Pence did vote in favor of the Iraq Resolution, which called for the use of military force in Iraq. As noted in his state bio, Pence visited Indiana soldiers in Iraq or Afghanistan at least once a year after the wars there began.
In 2007, Pence was a member of a heavily criticized trip with Senator John McCain to Iraq. The delegation visited a market in Baghdad and claimed it was proof that conditions were getting better there. Pence even said it was “like a normal outdoor market in Indiana in the summertime.”
However, when The New York Times spoke with merchants, they disagreed with what the congressmen found. The area the politicians visited had restricted access and snipers were on rooftops, according to the Times. They were also wearing bulletproof vests.
In 2011, when President Barack Obama decided to withdraw combat troops from Iraq, Pence said he agreed with the decision, 21Alive.com reported at the time. “It has been a long and difficult path involving the sacrifice by the soldiers and their families and I believe it has been a successful path,” Pence said during a visit to his district.
4. Pence Decided Against Running for President in 2008, 2012 and 2016
Pence has declined to run for president in each of the past two presidential elections. In January 2011, he decided to run for Indiana governor instead of the Oval Office. “In the choice between seeking national office and serving Indiana in some capacity, we choose Indiana,” Pence told supporters. That decision came after he won a straw poll at the Values Voters Summit.
Pence was pressured again to run for the White House in 2016, but he decided in June 2015 that he would rather run for Governor again.
“Republicans from across the state came together tonight and rallied behind our common mission to keep Indiana moving forward,” Indiana Republican Party Chairman Jeff Cardwell said in a statement. “We are excited and grateful for our governor’s decision to seek re-election. Together, our party will help build on Indiana’s success story through strong leadership and conservative principles.”
A May 2016 poll by NBC News, the Wall Street Journal and Marist Poll found that Pence had just a 43 percent approval rating among registered voters and a 42 percent approval rating from residents.
5. Pence First Endorsed Ted Cruz Before Endorsing Donald Trump
Pence first endorsed Texas Senator Ted Cruz in April 2016 during a WIBC interview, instead of Trump. He said he planned on voting for Cruz in the Indiana primary.
“I’m not against anybody, but I will be voting for Ted Cruz in the Republican Primary. I see Ted Cruz as a principled conservative who has dedicated his career to advocating the Reagan agenda. I’m pleased to support him,” Pence said at the time.
However, a few weeks later at the Indiana Republican Convention, Pence urged Republicans to vote for Trump to unite the party. “Now that the primaries are over, it’s time to come together. It’s time to come together around the people who were the people’s choice,” Pence said, reports The Indy Star.
Pence also called Trump’s comments about Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who was born in Indiana, “inappropriate,” reports Indiana Public Media.