Those who followed the Trump administration will no doubt be familiar with Mike Pence, the man who served as Trump’s Vice President during his time in office.
Recently succeeded by Kamala Harris after Joe Biden’s inauguration back in January, as you might have expected from someone who served in the Trump administration, controversy never seems to be too far away.
So, who is Mike Pence and why is he now an enemy on both sides of the political divide? Business Leader investigates…
Who is Mike Pence?
Born and raised in Columbus, Indiana, Mike Pence took his first role in the US Government as a member of the Republican Party back in 2001, after winning the seat in Indiana’s 2nd congressional district.
In January 2009, he was elected as the Republican Conference Chairman, which was the third highest ranking Republican leadership position at the time. This made him the first representative from Indiana to hold a house leading position since 1981.
He spent 12 years in the House of Representatives in total, winning re-election 4 more times before deciding to run for Governor of Indiana in 2012. Pence closely won the position with just under 50% of the vote, less than 3% ahead of Democratic nominee John R. Gregg.
After being sworn in as Indiana’s Governor in January 2013, he spent over 3 years in the role before he was selected as Trump’s running mate for the 2016 US Presidential Election.
What followed was a successful campaign where the Republican Party, led by Trump and with Pence as his running mate, received 306 of the 538 electoral college votes, leading to Trump and Pence being sworn in as President and Vice-President in January 2017.
Pence is, perhaps, best described in his own words, which are “a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican, in that order.” So, it is not hard to imagine why those on the left of the political spectrum and the more liberal-minded are not so fond of him. This is especially true when looking at Pence’s appraisal of himself in practice:
He is a vocal critic of same-sex marriage, homosexuals in the military and back in 2000, he stated that congress should oppose efforts to pass anti-discrimination laws protecting homosexuals.
In 2015, he also signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a law in Indiana that allows individuals and companies to use their right to exercise religion as a defence in legal proceedings. Its passing was praised by conservative religious groups but came under heavy scrutiny from many who felt it would permit discrimination against LGBT persons.
He also famously once said that he wouldn’t go to dinner alone with a woman who wasn’t his wife.
Such examples have resulted in Mike Pence being branded a religious kook and a bigot.
Pence and Trump
Mike Pence is also noteworthy for being one of Trump’s most dedicated followers, even standing by the then President during some of the biggest scandals to befall Trump during his time in charge.
This includes the 2016 Access Hollywood tape scandal, where Trump’s infamous “grab em by by the pussy” remarks relating to an attempt to seduce a married woman back in 2005 first emerged. These actions have since been defined by numerous commentators and lawyers as sexual assault.
His unwavering support for Trump has led to further criticism from progressive politicians, who have branded Pence a Trump lackey, bootlicker and zombie. Conversely, it also made him a popular figure in the eyes of the former President’s supporters.
So, what has changed?
Since his defeat in the 2020 Presidential Election back in November, Trump has made numerous calls for electoral fraud, including attempts to pressure a vote recount in Georgia, which culminated with Trump supporters storming the Capitol Building in Washington D.C, back in January.
During a speech that took place on that day, Trump called on Pence, the man responsible for certifying Democratic candidate Joe Biden’s victory, to block Congress and overturn November’s election results.
However, Pence did not echo Trump’s allegations of election fraud, although he has previously welcomed efforts from members of the House and Senate to use their legal authority to bring evidence of it forward.
As calls to “hang Mike Pence” rung around the halls of the Whitehouse after it was stormed by Trump supporters, a previously favourable opinion appeared to have changed.
Support from the left?
Despite making new enemies on the right of the political divide, Trump’s 2nd impeachment trial, which took place from the 9th to the 13th of February 2021, saw support for Pence from even more surprising areas.
Most likely relating to Pence’s refusal to block congress in January, Pence received praised from several progressive politicians, some of whom had even previously criticised him.
In 2019, for example, Congressman and Democratic Party member Ted Lieu tweeted that he hoped Pence’s hate of LGBTQ employees and students will one day dissipate. However, during Trump’s impeachment trial, Lieu commented: “Vice President Pence showed us what it means to be an American, what it means to show courage”.
So, in a deviation from the usual Pence paradigm, support and criticism for the former Vice-President came from equally unexpected directions.
But sadly for Pence, support from this side of the political spectrum has since wavered. In the aftermath of the trial, Pence publically reiterated his support for Donald Trump, causing a reversion to denounce him as a Trump stooge. Well, maybe it was at least good whilst it lasted?