Mike Pence’s conversion to the Republican Party and Evangelicalism

Gov. Mike Pence

By Dan Cravens, 

Before a few weeks ago when Donald Trump announced Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate, few Americans knew anything about him. While Pence may not have been a household name at the time of his selection as Trump’s running mate, he does offer a well-qualified background to be the Vice President.

Pence, unlike his running mate, comes from a humble background. He was one of six children. Pence’s father ran a group of gas stations around Columbus, Indiana. Both of Pence’s material grandparents immigrated to the United State from Ireland in the 1920’s. His grandfather, after coming from Ireland to the U.S., settled in Chicago and worked as a bus driver.

Because of Pence’s grandparent’s ties to Ireland, is entitled to Irish citizenship.

Pence has changed both his politics and religion in his life. Pence was raised Catholic. However, while attending Hanover College for his undergraduate degree he became an Evangelical Christian. While Pence has said many positive things to say about the Catholic Church, he felt something was missing in his life spiritually.

In an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network Pence, talking about his college days, said, “I began to meet young men and women who talked about having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.” He added, “That had not been a part of my experience.”

Pence was raised in a Democratic family. As a youth he was actively involved in the Democratic Party. However, during the 1980’s Pence felt moved to leave the Democratic Party. During the 1980’s increasingly Democratic elected officials declared themselves to be “Pro-Choice.” Pence conscience did not allow him to stay in the Democratic Party given his strong “Pro-Life” views.

Pence’s faith and political convictions became a guiding force in his political career. After two unsuccessful attempts to win a seat in Congress in 1988 and 1990, Pence founded a think-tank called Indiana Policy Review Foundation. The Indiana Policy Review Foundation worked to promote conservative and free-market polices within the State of Indiana.

Pence in 1994 left the Indiana Policy Review Foundation to become a conservative radio talk show host on WRCR-FM in Rushville, Indiana. The Mike Pence Show became a success being carried on 18 radio stations in Indiana. The show also helped give Pence greater name recognition among voters in Indiana.

In 2000 Pence once again ran for Congress. This time he was successful, and won re-election six times. In 2012 Pence declared his candidacy for Governor of Indiana. Pence is currently finishing his first term as Governor of Indiana.

Indiana University Professor Emeritus of Public Affairs Leslie Lenkowsky has known Pence for 20 years. According to a New York Times interview, he says of Pence, “Mike sees himself as a champion of a very culturally conservative set of values that represent small town Middle America.”

Pence for his part describes himself as, “a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican in that order.”

Pence’s political career has been one of consistent conservatism. As a member of Congress, Pence in 2011 was a co-sponsor of a balanced budget to the Constitution. He also supported efforts to reduce the power of the Federal Reserve. Additionally, he was an outspoken critic of President Obama’s 2009 economic stimulus legislation. Pence has also been a critic of same sex marriage, and civil unions for same gender couples.

Pence’s is an interesting choice for Trump’s running mate. The selection of Pence may be a harbinger of the type of people Donald Trump would select for his cabinet, and possibly, the Supreme Court. A question which remains to be seen is whether Pence will help attract voters to Donald Trump’s campaign.

About Dan Cravens

Dan Cravens is the Bingham County Republican Central Committee Chairman. He and his wife Jill and family live in Blackfoot. Cravens holds a Master of Arts in government from Regent University, a Juris Doctorate from Gonzaga University School of Law, and a Doctor of Business Administration degree from Argosy University – Salt Lake City

From: Idaho State Journal

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