Michael Pence, full name Michael Richard Pence, known as Mike Pence, is an American leader born on June 7, 1959. Mike served as the 48th Vice President of the United States from 2017 to 2021, when Donald Trump was the President.
He is a member of the Republican Party. He has an extensive political career. Pence served from 2013 to 2017 as the 50th Governor of Indiana. Pence represented Indiana in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2001 to 2013.
Michael Pence hails from Columbus, Indiana. He pursued his education at Hanover College and obtained a law degree from the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law. Following his educational journey, he launched his legal career in the private sector.
Although he faced setbacks in his early political pursuits, such as unsuccessful House bids in 1988 and 1990, Pence achieved prominence as a conservative radio and television talk show host from 1994 to 1999.
In 2000, he secured a seat in the House, representing Indiana’s 2nd district from 2001 to 2003 and later the 6th district from 2003 to 2013.
During this time, Michael Pence held leadership positions, including chairing the Republican Study Committee from 2005 to 2007 and the House Republican Conference from 2009 to 2011. In 2012, Pence narrowly won the Indiana gubernatorial election.
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Michael Pence’s Early life and education
Michael Richard Pence, one of six children, on June 7, 1959, he was born in Columbus, Indiana, USA. His father, Edward Joseph Pence Jr., a Korean War veteran, ran a group of gas stations and received the Bronze Star for his service. Pence’s ancestry includes German and Irish heritage.
Michael Pence was named after his maternal grandfather, Richard Michael Cawley, an Irish immigrant who worked as a bus driver in Chicago, and his maternal grandmother’s roots trace back to Doonbeg, County Clare, Ireland. In 1977, Michael Pence graduated from Columbus North High School.
In 1981, he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in history from Hanover College. He acquired a Juris Doctor from the Robert H. McKinney School of Law at Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis 1986. While at Hanover, he was involved with the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity and was the chapter president. Pence also worked as an admissions counselor at Hanover College.
Notably, he counted actor Woody Harrelson among his friends, helping him prepare for a sermon as part of Harrelson’s ministry studies. In his early years, Pence and his family were Roman Catholic Democrats.
Michael Pence even volunteered for the Bartholomew County Democratic Party in 1976 and voted for Jimmy Carter in the 1980 presidential election. He attributed his early political inspiration to figures like John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. During his college years, Pence underwent a religious transformation, becoming an evangelical, born-again Christian.
This shift in faith disappointed his mother. Alongside his spiritual transformation, Pence’s political views shifted rightward, citing the influence of the “common-sense conservatism of Ronald Reagan.”
Early career and congressional campaigns
After completing law school in 1986, Pence worked as an attorney in private practice. In 1988, he ran for Congress against incumbent Democrat Philip Sharp but was unsuccessful.
Michael Pence made another run against Sharp in 1990, quitting his job to focus on the campaign, but again lost. During this campaign, Pence used political donations for personal expenses, which, while legal at the time, tarnished his campaign’s image.
In 1991, Michael Pence expressed regret for running negative ads against Sharp and vowed to refrain from using insulting language or belittling ads. Around the same time, he became the President of the Indiana Policy Review Foundation, a self-described free-market think tank.
Following his first congressional campaign in 1988, Pence hosted a radio show called “Washington Update with Mike Pence” and later “The Mike Pence Show.” He also had a weekend public affairs T.V. show with the same name. Pence suspended his radio and T.V. shows in 1999 to focus on his successful 2000 campaign for Congress.
In 2000, he won a seat in Indiana’s 2nd congressional district and later the 6th district after a renumbering in 2002. He identified himself as “a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican, in that order.” Pence was a part of the Tea Party Caucus and opposed policies like President George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act and Medicare prescription drug expansion.
Michael Pence was re-elected four times, defeating Democrat Barry Welsh in the 2006, 2008, and 2010 House elections. He rose within the party’s ranks, serving as chairman of the Republican Study Committee from 2005 to 2007.
In 2009, he became the Republican Conference chairman, the third-highest-ranking Republican leadership position. Despite introducing numerous bills and resolutions during his twelve years in the House, they remained law.
Esquire magazine listed Pence as one of the ten best members of Congress in 2008, praising his traditional conservatism. He was also considered a potential Republican presidential candidate in 2008 and 2012. In 2010, Pence topped a straw poll conducted by the Values Voter Summit as the preferred presidential candidate.
He was encouraged to run against Democratic Senator Evan Bayh in 2010 but chose not to enter the race, even after Bayh’s unexpected retirement announcement.
U.S. House of Representatives (2001–2013)
In 2000, Michael Pence ran for and won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Indiana’s 2nd congressional district, later renumbered as the 6th.
He coined the slogan “a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican, in that order.” House Speaker Paul Ryan described him as a “principled conservative.” During his time in Congress, Pence was part of the Tea Party Caucus.
Pence was known for opposing key policies like President George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act in 2001 and the Medicare prescription drug expansion in 2003.
He was re-elected four times, defeating Democrat Barry Welsh in the 2006, 2008, and 2010 House elections. Pence’s political influence grew, and he served as chairman of the Republican Study Committee from 2005 to 2007.
He also ran for the position of Republican Party leader in the House but lost to John Boehner in 2006. However, in 2009, Pence became the Republican Conference chairman, the third-highest-ranking Republican leadership position.
Michael Pence was the first Indiana representative to hold such a House leadership position since 1981. During his twelve years in the House, Pence introduced 90 bills and resolutions, none of which became law.
Michael Pence’s committee assignments during his House tenure were as follows:
- 107th Congress (2001–2003): Agriculture, Judiciary, Small Business
- 108th Congress (2003–2005): Agriculture, International Relations, Judiciary
- 109th Congress (2005–2007): Agriculture, International Relations, Judiciary
- In the 110th Congress (2007–2009), he was involved in Foreign Affairs and Judiciary, and he held the position of Ranking Member on August 2, 2007, for the Select Committee to Investigate the Voting Irregularities.
- 111th Congress (2009–2011): Foreign Affairs
- 112th Congress (2011–2013): Foreign Affairs, Judiciary
Michael Pence gained recognition, with Esquire magazine listing him among the ten best members of Congress in 2008. He was considered a potential Republican presidential candidate in 2008 and 2012.
In a straw poll conducted by the Values Voter Summit in September 2010, he emerged as the top choice for President. Pence was also encouraged to run for the Senate but declined even after incumbent Democratic Senator Evan Bayh’s unexpected retirement announcement.
2012 Indiana Gubernatorial Election
In May 2011, Michael Pence announced his bid for the Republican nomination for the governor of Indiana in the 2012 election.
The incumbent Republican Governor Mitch Daniels was term-limited. Pence’s campaign focused on continuing the successes of his predecessor, with promises of educational reform and business deregulation. John R. Gregg, a former Indiana Speaker of the House, was the Democratic nominee.
Despite facing a popular outgoing governor from the same party, Michael Pence was in a highly competitive race. He ultimately won with just under 50 percent of the vote, holding a slim lead of less than 3% over Gregg.
The Libertarian nominee, Rupert Boneham, secured a significant portion of the remaining ballots. This election marked the closest gubernatorial race in Indiana in half a century.
Michael Pence as a Governor of Indiana (2013–2017)
As Governor of Indiana
Michael Pence championed significant tax reductions, marking the largest in the state’s history, and advocated for increased funding for private education initiatives.
He also signed into law bills aimed at restricting abortions, including one that prohibited abortions based on the fetus’s race, gender, or disability.
Notably, his approval of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act drew widespread criticism from moderate members of his party, the business community, and advocates for LGBT rights. Later on, Pence advocated for amendments to the law aimed at preventing discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and various other factors.
Pence became Donald Trump’s running mate in the 2016 presidential election. He chaired the reestablished National Space Council as Vice President in 2017. He led the White House Coronavirus Task Force, formed in early 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the 2020 presidential election, the Trump-Pence ticket faced defeat to the Democratic candidates, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.
Despite contentious disputes over the election’s outcome and numerous legal challenges filed by the Trump campaign, Michael Pence, as Vice President, certified the victory of the Biden-Harris ticket on January 6, 2021, even amidst the storming of the U.S. Capitol.
Subsequently, Michael Pence distanced himself from Trump by endorsing candidates in several Republican primary elections who Trump did not support. In 2023, Pence briefly entered the race for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.
Fiscal and economic policy
During his governorship, Michael Pence significantly increased the $2 billion budget reserve he inherited from his predecessor, Mitch Daniels.
However, this required state agencies, including public universities, to cut funding in years with revenue shortfalls. By the end of fiscal year 2014, the state had a $2 billion reserve.
Pence implemented budget cuts across various areas, including $24 million from colleges and universities, $27 million from the Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA), and $12 million from the Department of Correction.
Indiana’s economic performance during Pence’s governorship was mixed; the unemployment rate was in line with the national average, but job growth slightly lagged behind the national trend. In 2014, Indiana’s GDP growth was only 0.4 percent, well below the national average of 2.2 percent, partly due to a sluggish manufacturing sector.
During his tenure, companies like Carrier Corp. and United Technologies Electronic Controls (UTEC) announced plans to move 2,100 jobs to Mexico, leading to criticism and “deep disappointment.” Although Pence’s efforts to persuade these companies to remain in Indiana were unsuccessful, they agreed to reimburse local and state governments for specific tax incentives.
Under Michael Pence’s leadership, the Indiana Economic Development Corporation approved $24 million in incentives for companies that outsourced jobs overseas, with $8.7 million paid out by August 2016.
In 2013, Michael Pence signed a law that prohibited local governments in Indiana from imposing higher wage or benefit requirements on businesses beyond federal law. He repealed a law that mandated construction companies working on publicly funded projects to pay a prevailing wage.
Indiana had previously enacted right-to-work legislation under Pence’s predecessor, Mitch Daniels, which the state successfully defended against labor challenges. Pence made tax reform a priority in 2013, pushing for a ten percent income tax rate cut.
While Michael Pence didn’t achieve the complete ten percent reduction, he did succeed in cutting state taxes, reducing income tax by five percent, and eliminating the inheritance tax. The corporate income tax was set to decrease from 6.5 percent to 4.9 percent by 2021, making it the second-lowest in the nation.
Additionally, the law permitted counties to remove the business personal property tax on new equipment and exempted small businesses with equipment valued under $20,000 from personal property taxes.
In 2013, Michael Pence’s veto of a bill retroactively authorizing a local tax was overridden by the Indiana Legislature. The statement addressed a 15-year-old county income tax imposed to fund jail construction with the understanding that the tax would be lowered by one percent after the initial years.
The reduction had yet to be implemented, and taxpayers were paying an extra one percent tax. The legislature overrode Pence’s veto with significant bipartisan support. Michael Pence advocated for a balanced budget amendment to the state’s constitution during his governorship, which passed the state Senate.
Indiana maintained its AAA credit ratings with major credit-rating agencies throughout Pence’s tenure, a status it had held since 2010 before he took office.
In 2014, Pence supported the Indiana Gateway project, a $71.4 million rail improvement initiative financed by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act 2009. Pence had previously voted against the stimulus package while serving as a congressman.
In 2015, Pence announced plans to pay off a $250 million federal loan that covered unemployment insurance payments that spiked during the recession. In March 2016, he signed legislation to fund a $230 million two-year road-funding package.
During his time as governor, Michael Pence advocated for increased funding for education, particularly in the form of a $10-million state preschool pilot program to assist underprivileged children. He testified before the state Senate Education Committee to garner support from fellow Republicans, ultimately securing approval for the program. Demand for this program exceeded capacity.
Pence initially declined to apply for up to $80 million in federal funding for preschool development, expressing a preference for a state-based program. However, under pressure and criticism, he later reversed course and sought federal funds.
In 2015, Pence obtained increased funding for charter schools, although not all of his proposed measures were approved. He also signed legislation in 2013 that significantly expanded the school voucher program in Indiana, making it one of the largest in the United States, with an estimated annual cost of $53 million for the 2015–2016 school year.
Michael Pence was a vocal opponent of the Common Core State Standards Initiative, advocating for their repeal and overseeing Indiana’s withdrawal from the standards, making it the first state to do so.
He also expressed views supporting the teaching of religious creationism alongside established science, which ignited controversy and called for a more balanced approach to science education.
Despite his support for various educational initiatives, Pence often clashed with teachers’ unions and supporters of public education.
He implemented early alterations to the Educational Employment Relations Board and established the “Center for Education and Career Innovation” (CECI).
This move led to disputes with Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz, who perceived it as an attempt to consolidate power.
To defuse the situation, Pence eventually disbanded the CECI. In 2015, Pence signed a bill that reduced Ritz’s authority over standardized testing and other education matters while reconstituting the State Board of Education, which Pence appointees dominated.
This legislation also allowed the board to appoint a chairperson other than the Superintendent of Public Instruction, effective in 2017. Moreover, it designated the State Board of Education and the Department of Education as “state educational authorities” for accessing student data, resulting in further conflicts between Pence and Ritz.
They had differing opinions on how to handle non-binding federal guidelines related to the treatment of transgender students in public schools, particularly concerning issues of gender identity.
Energy and environment
During Pence’s governorship, the Republican-dominated Indiana General Assembly made multiple attempts to scale back renewable energy standards and effectively halted the state’s energy efficiency initiatives.
Michael Pence was a vocal proponent of the coal industry, emphasizing Indiana’s support for coal in his 2015 State of the State address. He advocated for an “all-of-the-above energy strategy.”
He expressed strong opposition to what he perceived as overreaching regulations by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), particularly in their efforts concerning coal.
In 2015, Pence penned a letter to then-President Obama, vehemently criticizing the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, which aimed to regulate carbon emissions from existing power plants.
He declared that Indiana would not comply with the plan and joined other states in a lawsuit challenging its validity. In 2016, Pence reaffirmed his commitment to resisting the rule, even if legal challenges were unsuccessful, and stated that Indiana would not devise its emissions reduction plan.
In 2014, despite resistance from Indiana school organizations, Pence approved a bill permitting firearms to be stored in vehicles on school premises. The move raised concerns and controversy regarding gun access in educational settings.
Following a shooting incident in Chattanooga in 2015, Pence sought the assistance of the National Rifle Association (NRA) to provide concealed carry training to the Indiana National Guard.
This decision raised questions from National Guard officials in other states about the involvement of a civilian organization in military matters. In May 2015, Pence signed Senate Bill 98 into law, limiting lawsuits against gun and ammunition manufacturers and sellers.
The law also retroactively terminated the City of Gary’s ongoing case from 1999 against gun manufacturers and retailers, which alleged illegal handgun sales.
The bill received support from Republicans, including state senator Jim Tomes, who believed it would attract more gun-related businesses to Indiana.
Nevertheless, Karen Freeman-Wilson, the mayor of Gary and a former Indiana attorney general, opposed the measure, viewing it as an unprecedented encroachment on the separation of powers between the state’s legislative and judicial branches.
In 2016, Michael Pence’s decision to sign Senate Bill 109 into law, which legalized captive hunting of farm-raised deer in Indiana, generated diverse reactions.
In 2009, parts of East Chicago were declared a Superfund site due to toxic lead and arsenic contamination. Governor Pence declined to say a state emergency, but his successor, Governor Eric Holcomb, eventually issued an executive order to address the disaster in East Chicago.
In December 2014, an HIV outbreak commenced in Southern Indiana. Pence, along with the Republican-controlled legislature, defunded Planned Parenthood in the state, leading to the closure of clinics that provided essential healthcare services, including HIV testing.
Pence also opposed needle exchange programs despite their proven effectiveness in preventing the spread of diseases. He eventually allowed some counties to open needle exchanges in March 2015 but maintained the state ban on funding for such programs, which critics found ineffective.
Michael Pence and the Obama administration expanded Medicaid in Indiana in 2015, creating the Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0. The program introduced co-payments linked to participants’ healthy behaviors, which received mixed reviews.
Critics argued that the co-payments could be burdensome for lower-income individuals and deter them from seeking necessary healthcare. The program was criticized for its bureaucratic complexity and misleading information in its application for renewal in early 2017.
Religion and LGBT rights
On March 26, 2015, Michael Pence signed Indiana Senate Bill 101, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). The law received praise from religious conservatives but faced criticism for its potential to allow discrimination against LGBT individuals.
Organizations such as the NCAA, Gen Con, and the Disciples of Christ expressed their opposition. Prominent business leaders like Apple CEO Tim Cook and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff condemned the law. Angie’s List canceled a $40 million expansion in Indiana over concerns about the law’s impact.
Thousands protested the policy, and even some Republican state representatives and the Republican mayor of Indianapolis, Greg Ballard, spoke out against it. Pence defended the law, asserting it was not about discrimination. He faced scrutiny for refusing to clarify whether specific examples of bias presented by an anti-LGBT group would be legal under the law.
However, under significant public pressure, Pence signed revisions to the law on April 2, 2015, to protect against potential discrimination. At the time, Pence was heavily criticized by liberals, who characterized him as anti-gay. In 2018, emails revealed conservative opposition to his support for the amended law.
In March 2016, as Indiana governor, Michael Pence signed H.B. 1337 into law. This bill banned specific abortion procedures and imposed new regulations on abortion providers. It prohibited abortion based on the fetus’s race, gender, or fetal abnormality.
It mandated the burial or cremation of all fetal remains from abortions or miscarriages, even in the early stages of pregnancy. This law was considered unusually comprehensive, potentially making Indiana the first state to ban abortions for these reasons broadly.
However, a federal court issued a preliminary injunction days after the U.S. Supreme Court’s Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt decision, preventing the bill from taking effect.
The court found it likely to be unconstitutional, and the law was ultimately ruled unconstitutional in April 2018 by the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.
Media and the press
In June 2013, Michael Pence faced criticism for deleting comments made by others on his official government Facebook page, and he later apologized.
On January 26, 2015, it was widely reported that Pence planned to launch a state-run, taxpayer-funded news service for Indiana called “Justin.” This service would include breaking news, articles authored by press secretaries, and light features managed by former newspaper reporter staff, with a combined yearly salary of $100,000.
While it was primarily aimed at assisting small newspapers with limited staff, it raised concerns about presenting a pro-administration viewpoint. It was likened to state-run media in Russia and China by journalists.
Following controversy and criticism, Pence decided to terminate the development of the JustIN website, acknowledging concerns and negative feedback.
Syrian refugee crisis
As governor, Michael Pence made unsuccessful attempts to halt the resettlement of Syrian refugees in Indiana. His order to cut federal funds for a local refugee resettlement agency was later ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge, leading to Pence’s appeal.
In December 2015, Pence voiced his opposition to proposals to ban Muslims from entering the U.S., finding them offensive and unconstitutional.
Public-records requests and use of private email
During his time as governor, Michael Pence faced criticism for obstructing public records requests, often delaying or denying their release. He regularly used a personal AOL email account for official state business, even though it wasn’t prohibited by Indiana law.
In 2016, his AOL account was hacked, and sensitive matters, including homeland security issues, were discussed. After becoming vice president, the State of Indiana released some of his emails but withheld others, citing exemptions for deliberative or advisory content.
Pence’s use of a personal email for public business raised eyebrows, given his criticism of Hillary Clinton’s private email server use. Indiana hired a private law firm in 2017 to handle public records requests related to Pence’s personal AOL account correspondence.
Re-election campaign and withdrawal
In the 2016 Indiana gubernatorial election, Michael Pence initially ran for a second term as governor and had no opposition in the Republican primary.
His Democratic opponent was to be John R. Gregg, a rematch of their 2012 race. However, Pence ended his gubernatorial campaign on July 15, 2016, following his selection as Donald Trump’s vice presidential running mate.
Eric Holcomb, the Lieutenant Governor, replaced Pence as the Republican nominee and chose Suzanne Crouch as his running mate. Ultimately, Holcomb defeated Gregg in the general election.
Michael Pence’s 2016 vice presidential campaign
In the lead-up to the 2016 Indiana Republican presidential primary, Pence endorsed Ted Cruz but later supported Donald Trump when he became the party’s presumptive nominee.
Trump considered Pence, Chris Christie, and Newt Gingrich potential vice presidential running mates. On July 14, it was widely reported that Pence would join the ticket, and Trump officially confirmed this the following day.
Michael Pence was seen as the most conservative vice-presidential candidate in decades, and he cited Dick Cheney as his role model for vice president.
During his vice presidential debate preparations, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker played the role of Tim Kaine, the Democratic nominee.
Experts declared Pence the winner of the debate, and he stood by Trump even after the revelation of Trump’s lewd comments in 2005. Pence was elected vice president of the United States on November 8, 2016.
Michael Pence as a Vice President (2017–2021)
Following the election, Michael Pence assumed the role of chairman in President-elect Trump’s transition team. Throughout the transition period, Pence played a pivotal role in the administration, acting as a mediator between Trump and congressional Republicans, alleviating conservative concerns about Trump’s conservative principles, and wielding influence in the selection of Trump’s cabinet members.
Michael Pence’s Inauguration
On January 20, 2017, precisely at noon, Pence assumed the role of the 48th Vice President of the United States. Michael Pence was sworn into office by Justice Clarence Thomas, and for that occasion, he chose to use Ronald Reagan’s Bible.
The Bible was opened to a specific verse, 2 Chronicles 7:14. It reads, “If those called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from wicked ways, I will hear, forgive, and heal their land.”
Reagan also used this verse during his inaugurations as governor and President. In addition, Pence employed his personal Bible, a practice he follows each morning.
Michael Pence as a Advisors and staff
Chief of Staff
- Marc Short
National Security Team
- National Security Advisor: Keith Kellogg
- Deputy National Security Advisor: Stephen Pinkos
- Legal Counsel: Gregory Jacob
Office of the Second Lady (Mrs. Karen Pence)
- Chief of Staff to Mrs. Karen Pence
Advance and Policy Team
- Director of Advance: Aaron Chang
- Director of Policy: John Gray
Public Liaison and Intergovernmental Affairs Team
- Paul Teller, Director of Public Liaison and Intergovernmental Affairs
- Andeliz Castillo, Deputy Director of Public Liaison and Intergovernmental Affairs
Press and Communications Team
- Press Secretary: Katie Waldman
Legislative Affairs Team
- Director of Legislative Affairs: Christopher Hodgson
- Deputy Director of Legislative Affairs: Benjamin Cantrell
Administration and Scheduling Team
- Director of Administration and Finance: Katherine Purucker
- Director of Scheduling: Bethany Scully
- Zach Bauer
Michael Pence’s Tenure
Early Days in Office (January 2017)
- Pence conducted ceremonial duties, including swearing in cabinet members.
- Administered the oath of office to White House senior staff.
- In January 2017, he named Josh Pitcock as his chief of staff.
- In February, Jarrod Agen assumed the role of director of communications for the vice president.
- Nick Ayers succeeded Josh Pitcock as chief of staff in July.
Key Political Actions
- Warned Iran against testing the new administration in February 2017.
- Cast tie-breaking votes in the Senate to confirm Cabinet members and advance a bill to defund Planned Parenthood.
- Appointed chair of the National Space Council in June 2017.
NFL and North Korea Engagement
- He left an NFL game in October 2017 due to national anthem protests, drawing criticism.
- Led the U.S. delegation to the 2018 Winter Olympics, with a focus on North Korea.
- He met with leaders in South Korea, Japan, Indonesia, and Australia during a trip to the Asia-Pacific region.
- Witnessed the release of American citizens held in North Korea and participated in talks regarding North Korea’s nuclear disarmament.
- He defended debt- and deficit-spending to stimulate economic growth in February 2020.
Political action committee
In May 2017, Michael Pence took the step of submitting paperwork to the Federal Election Commission to establish the Great America Committee, a political action committee (PAC) that would be led by his former campaign associates, Nick Ayers and Marty Obst.
Notably, Pence is the sole vice president to create his own PAC while holding office. In response to allegations published in a New York Times article suggesting he might run for the presidency in 2020, Pence vehemently dismissed them, deeming the claims “laughable and absurd.”
He further characterized the report as “disgraceful and offensive.”
Michael Pence and the Trump impeachment inquiry
Michael Pence played a significant role in the Trump-Ukraine scandal and the subsequent Trump impeachment inquiry. He engaged in at least two phone conversations and had an in-person meeting with Volodymyr Zelensky, the President of Ukraine.
The meeting occurred in Poland on September 1, 2019, amidst an unforeseen delay in U.S. military assistance to Ukraine. Pence clarified that he didn’t engage in discussions about 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden but instead concentrated on addressing concerns about corruption in Ukraine.
As the impeachment inquiry progressed, Pence publicly expressed his support for Trump’s call for foreign investigations into Joe Biden and his son Hunter. He argued, “I believe it’s important for the American people to understand whether the vice president of the United States or his family gained financially from his position.”
On October 3, Pence questioned Joe Biden’s son receiving a $50,000 monthly payment for his role on a Ukrainian board while Vice President Biden was overseeing the Obama administration’s Ukraine initiatives, implying the need for further scrutiny.
Death of Soleimani
In January 2020, Michael Pence defended President Trump’s decision to target Qasem Soleimani, the Iranian major general in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
He put forth conspiracy theories suggesting a connection between Iran and the al-Qaeda attacks on the United States. Through a series of tweets, the vice president characterized Soleimani as “an evil man responsible for the deaths of thousands of Americans.”
Pence asserted that Soleimani had facilitated the secret travel of 10 of the 12 terrorists involved in the September 11 terrorist attacks in Afghanistan.
Critics noted that Pence had erred in mentioning the number of 9/11 hijackers (which was 19) and had made insinuations about Soleimani’s involvement without substantiating his claims.
Many experts disputed Pence’s claims, considering them unsubstantiated. Pence’s spokeswoman, Katie Waldman, clarified that the reference to a dozen terrorists was about individuals who had traveled through Afghanistan, with ten of them receiving assistance from Soleimani.
On February 26, 2020, President Trump appointed Pence to lead the White House Coronavirus Task Force with the mission of addressing the COVID-19 pandemic within the United States.
This move followed recommendations from various public health officials and members of Congress who had suggested the need for a “Coronavirus Czar,” although Trump preferred a different title.
As the task force leader, Michael Pence coordinated joint efforts with agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Homeland Security, and the White House Office.
In April 2020, during a visit to the Mayo Clinic, Pence chose not to adhere to the hospital’s face mask policy. He defended this decision, explaining that he wanted to maintain direct eye contact with the staff.
Nevertheless, his opponents criticized this action for sending a message of irresponsibility regarding public health. Subsequently, Pence acknowledged the lapse and started wearing a mask two days later when visiting a ventilator production facility.
In late June 2020, as COVID-19 cases were surging, Pence conducted a press briefing in which he expressed optimism and made several statements that were either misleading or false regarding the state of the pandemic.
He incorrectly asserted that the spikes in cases were primarily due to increased testing, describing the rise in new cases as a reflection of successful testing expansion nationwide.
Health experts, however, pointed out that case numbers were growing faster than the number of tests conducted, and the percentage of positive tests was on the rise. Pence also made false claims that COVID-19 fatalities were decreasing all across the country, the curve had flattened, and that all 50 states were in the process of reopening.
In private discussions with Republican Senators, Pence encouraged them to focus on what he deemed “encouraging signs.”
He told senators that cases were only rising in 3% of counties and 12 states, although data showed increases in at least 5% of counties and over 20 states.
On December 18, Vice President Pence and Second Lady Karen Pence publicly received the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for SARS-CoV-2 in a televised event to show its safety and effectiveness.
Michael Pence’s 2024 presidential campaign
In 2021, surveys of Republican voters regarding their preferred presidential candidate for 2024 suggested that Michael Pence could enter the race as a prominent contender if former President Trump chose not to run. Conversely, these polls also indicated a sharp decline in Pence’s popularity should Trump decide to seek the presidency once more.
Consequently, there was a prevailing sentiment among both Republican leaders and grassroots party members that Pence’s prospects in the early stages of the 2024 campaign were dim.
By May 2022, The New York Times they were reported that Pence was contemplating a presidential run, regardless of Trump’s decision to seek a second term.
In 2023, Pence publicly criticized former President Donald Trump, particularly concerning January 6, 2021.
During a Gridiron dinner, an occasion attended by both politicians and journalists, Pence stated that Trump was incorrect in implying that he possessed the power to overturn the election results.
Pence emphasized that Trump’s words not only jeopardized him but also posed risks to his family and all those present at the Capitol that day.
Much of this rhetoric laid the groundwork for Pence’s potential bid for the Republican nomination in the upcoming 2024 presidential election. On June 5, 2023, Pence filed the necessary paperwork and officially launched his presidential campaign.
In July, he became the first 2024 Republican presidential candidate to visit Ukraine, where he held discussions with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
However, on October 28, 2023, Pence, who faced challenges with fundraising and had weak poll numbers, decided to withdraw from the race. Much of his campaign efforts had been concentrated in Iowa.
Michael Pence’s Personal Life
Michael Pence and his wife, Karen (formerly Batten), first crossed paths while in law school at Indiana University. They exchanged vows in 1985.
In 1988, Pence faced the loss of his father, leaving his mother a widow with four adult children and two teenagers. Together, Mike and Karen Pence are the parents of three children: Michael, Charlotte, and Audrey.
Their oldest child, Michael Pence, holds the rank of first lieutenant and is a pilot in the United States Marine Corps. While Pence was in the House of Representatives, his family typically resided in Arlington, Virginia, during congressional sessions and in Columbus, Indiana, during recesses.
In a 2002 interview, Pence stated that he would not have a private dinner with a woman other than his wife. On May 1, 2004, Pence’s mother entered into a new marriage, this time with Basil Coolidge Fritsch, who had been a widower since 2001.
In 2018, Pence’s elder brother, Greg, successfully ran and secured a seat in Congress to represent Indiana’s 6th congressional district, a position previously held by Mike Pence.
Greg and Mike bear a strong physical resemblance, and Greg even once served as a decoy to divert media attention away from his brother when Mike Pence was being considered as a potential running mate for Donald Trump.
The Pence family’s pet rabbit, Marlon Bundo, became the central character in a children’s book by Pence’s daughter, Charlotte.
Pence’s religious journey includes a Catholic upbringing, during which he served as an altar server and attended parochial school. He underwent a born-again Christian conversion while in college as a member of a nondenominational Christian student group.
Pence pinpointed a particular moment during his first year of college, reminiscing about “a Christian music festival in the spring of 1978 in Asbury, Kentucky,” as the occasion when he made a “commitment to Christ.”
Following this conversion, Pence attended Mass, met his wife, and later served as a Catholic youth minister. Although Pence referred to himself as Catholic in a 1994 news report, by 1995, he and his family had joined an evangelical megachurch called the Grace Evangelical Church.
In 2013, Pence mentioned that his family was in the process of looking for a new church. In 2016, he and his wife frequently attended services at the College Park Church, a nondenominational congregation in Indianapolis.
Pence has characterized himself as being “first a Christian, then a conservative, and finally a Republican” and identifies as a “born-again, Evangelical Catholic.” His strong Christian faith is a central aspect of his identity.
In 2002, Pence made a statement on the floor of the House of Representatives, recorded in the Congressional Record, expressing his belief in intelligent design as a rational explanation for the universe.
In response to Chris Matthews’ inquiry about his perspective on evolution in 2009, Pence stated, “I firmly believe that God is the creator of the heavens, the earth, the seas, and all living things. How He accomplished this, I intend to ask Him one day.”
In 2016, Pence received a diagnosis of asymptomatic left bundle branch block, and in April 2021, he underwent surgery to implant a pacemaker due to a slow heartbeat.
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