Mike Pence: Everything You Need to Know

The VP nominee speaks on night three at the RNC.

ByABC News
July 20, 2016, 4:17 PM

— -- Name: Michael Richard "Mike" Pence

Party: Republican

Date of Birth: June 7, 1959

Age: 57

What He Does Now: 50th governor of Indiana (elected 2012, inaugurated 2013). State law bars him from seeking reelection and running for vice president at the same time.

What He Used to Do: From 2001 to 2013, Pence was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He was also the chairman of the House Republican conference and chairman of the Republican Study Committee. In 2006 he ran to be minority leader of the House but lost to John Boehner. Pence previously worked as an attorney at a private practice and launched two failed congressional bids before getting a job at a think tank. He also hosted a talk radio show and a TV show in Indiana.

Hometown: Columbus, Indiana

Family Tree: Pence was born to a middle-class family in Columbus, Indiana. He was one of six children. His parents, Nancy Jane and Edward Pence, ran a string of gas stations. He is of Irish Catholic descent. His grandfather was a bus driver from Chicago who came to the U.S. from Ireland via Ellis Island.

Pence and his wife, Karen, a former elementary school teacher, have been married since 1985 and have three children. Their son, Michael Pence, 24, is a Marine Corps officer. Their older daughter, Charlotte Pence, 22, is a filmmaker who recently graduated from college. Their younger daughter, Audrey Pence, 21, goes to Hanover College and considers herself socially liberal. Audrey Pence says her dad tells her he is proud of her for having formed her own opinions. The family lived in Arlington, Virginia, while he was a congressman.

Key Life and Career Moments:

  • Mike Pence graduated from Hanover College with a B.A. in history and went to law school at Indiana University.
  • He came under fire for signing a "religious freedom" bill into law on March 31, 2015. Critics say the law gives businesses a license to discriminate against the LGBT community by allowing them to cite religious views to deny people service. Asked on ABC's "This Week" whether businesses could refuse service to gay people under the new law, Pence repeatedly said the question was beside the point. "This isn't about disputes between individuals," he said. "It's about government overreach, and I'm proud that Indiana stepped forward, and I'm working hard to clarify this." He eventually said he would "fix" the bill to ensure it would not allow for discrimination.
  • He took some heat for likening the Supreme Court's decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act to the 9/11 terrorist attacks at a closed-door meeting. He later apologized.
  • What You Might Not Know About Him:

  • He is a Christian. In September 2009 remarks at the Values Voter Summit, he said, "But as I think about the past five decades of my life, nothing can compare to the inexpressible joy I felt on a night in April 1978, when I gave my life to Jesus Christ."
  • He considered running for president in 2016, and it wasn't the first time he was thought to be a possible candidate for the White House. In 2009 his trips to early primary states spurred speculation that he was laying the groundwork for a 2012 run. In 2014 he made similar trips, perhaps laying groundwork for a 2016 campaign that never happened.
  • In October 1991, Pence wrote an essay for The Indiana Policy Review, "Confessions of a Negative Campaigner," about how he was wrong to run negative campaigns in the past. "Negative campaigning is wrong," he wrote.
  • In that time frame, Pence and his family traveled to Israel — another common destination for presidential hopefuls. He met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in December 2014, and Netanyahu's office posted video of the two men on its official Twitter feed.
  • He is a favorite of conservative brothers Charles and David Koch.
  • His favorite ice cream is Moose Tracks.
  • His favorite movie is "The Wizard of Oz."
  • His favorite superhero is Superman.
  • As the nationwide backlash against Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act reached a fever pitch, Pence faced condemnation from all corners of liberal America. Miley Cyrus infamously took to Instagram to call him an "a--hole."
  • In the 1990s, Pence hosted a talk radio show and a TV show in Indiana. "The Mike Pence Show" was syndicated on Indiana radio stations from 1994 through 1999, and he hosted a Sunday morning TV show in Indianapolis from 1995 to 1999, according to the National Governors Association website.
  • Pence's congressional papers are at Indiana University, but they are closed, to be opened only in December 2022 or after Pence's death, whichever is later.
  • Has reportedly liked to repeat the phrase "I'm a conservative, but I'm not angry about it."
  • What He Has Said About Trump:

  • Pence introduced Trump at a campaign rally on July 12 in Indiana. "We are ready for Donald Trump to be our next president," Pence said. "You know, Donald Trump understands the frustrations and the hopes of the American people like no other American leader in my lifetime since Ronald Reagan. The American people are tired." Pence also called Trump a "strong man" and a "good man."
  • He criticized Trump's proposed Muslim ban. "Calls to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. are offensive and unconstitutional," he tweeted on Dec. 8, 2015. "Our Constitution guarantees the free exercise of religion. The U.S. cannot discriminate on the basis of religion."Still, Pence has tried to halt the settlement of Syrian refugees in Indiana. "The Constitution guarantees the free exercise of religion," spokesman Matt Lloyd USA Today said in a statement. "There is a distinct difference, however, when it comes to security issues when members of the Obama administration's intelligence community have said that ISIS has attempted to gain entry into the United States via the Syrian refugee program."
  • He called Trump's comments on U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel "inappropriate." Trump suggested that because of the judge's Mexican heritage, he could not be impartial in two lawsuits against Trump University over which he is presiding. "I don't think it's ever appropriate to question the partiality of a judge based on his ethnic background," Pence said on June 7.
  • Pence initially backed Ted Cruz for the GOP nomination over Trump, though the endorsement was lukewarm and he still praised Trump. "And I'm also particularly grateful that Donald Trump has taken a strong stand for Hoosier jobs when we saw jobs in the Carrier company abruptly announce leaving Indiana not for another state but for Mexico," Pence said in a radio interview on April 29. "I'm grateful for his voice in the national debate. Let me say, I've come to my decision about who I'm supporting, and I'm not against anybody, but I will be voting for Ted Cruz in the upcoming Republican primary."
  • Pence later urged Republicans to unite behind Trump. "Now that the primaries are over, it's time to come together," Pence said on June 11. "It's time to come together around the people who were the people's choice."
  • Related Topics