American and global audiences have now had a formal introduction to all the primary contenders in the 2020 U.S. presidential elections. With the conclusion of two presidential and one vice-presidential debate, all four contenders in the November 3 elections have presented themselves on public platforms, where their ideas, policies, and positions on key issues of concern in the upcoming elections have been duly scrutinized. PREMIUM TIMES presents comprehensive bios of all election hopefuls.
• Full Name: Michael Richard Pence
• Age: 61
o Hanover College, History (1981)
o Indiana University-Purdue University, Robert H. McKinney School of Law (1986)
• Public Offices Held:
o House of Representatives, Indiana (2001–2013)
o Governor, Indiana (2013–2017)
o Vice President (2017- date)
Before he was selected as the vice-presidential candidate for the Republican Party in 2016, Mike Pence had no intentions of voting for Donald Trump. In the days leading up to the primary elections, Mr Pence had decided to vote for Ted Cruz, the junior senator for Texas, who eventually dropped out of the race. “I like and respect all three of the republican candidates. I particularly want to commend Donald Trump… but I will be voting for Ted Cruz,” Mr Pence, then governor of Indiana, said in an April 2016 interview.
In July 2016, Mr Trump was compelled by his party to add Mr Pence to the ticket. His strengths? His history of conservatism rooted in evangelical Christianity. His popularity among evangelicals grew in 2015 when he introduced a controversial religious freedom bill, which critics argued could be used to discriminate against members of the LGBTQ community. Following a huge backlash, the then-governor amended the law, thereby, angering his hard-core conservative base who supported the initial law wholesale. As governor also, Mr. Pence also introduced ultra-restrictive abortion laws, including the restriction of abortions even in the cases of foetal disability. A federal appeal court ruled the law was unconstitutional in 2018 but Mr Pence’s position had already endeared him to pro-life activists and further gained him support with Evangelicals and conservative groups.
In 2016 the Republican Party saw an upswing in votes from Christian demographics, including evangelicals and White Catholics. Exit polls indicate that the Republican Party, which has consistently won the White evangelical demographic, did so in 2016 with a higher percentage than recent elections since 2000. Voting data show that 81 percent of White, born-again/evangelical Christians voted for the Trump team, showing a three percent increase from the votes for Mitt Romney in 2012 and a seven percent increase compared to votes for John McCain in 2008. Similarly, there was a four percentage overall increase in Catholic support for Mr Trump than Mr Romney. While there is no real way to gauge how much of this owed to Mr Pence’s addition to the ticket, there is no doubt that the VP made up for what could have appeared as a moral deficit on the part of the presidential candidate, particularly given the release of recordings with Mr Trump casually making lewd remarks about women in the so-called Access Hollywood tapes shortly before the 2016 elections.
Mr Pence also brought his 15 years of political experience to bear in the Trump-Pence ticket. Adding political savviness to his experience as a former radio and TV show host, he brought a calming balance to the mostly turbulent Trump campaign, and has continued to do so throughout their years in office. He has been an ideal VP to President Trump; largely invisible, loyal and seemingly unambitious, all indicators appear to point to a relationship that has left the president’s voice loud and clear on his main interests, generally articulated to be a domestic focus on the U.S. and a steady divestment of political engagement abroad. His latent role in the administration is evidenced in his appointment as the head of the White House Coronavirus Task Force. Ultimately, the administration’s poor response to the global pandemic, which has killed over 220,000 Americans, has reflected, not merely incompetent leadership on the part of the VP, but an acquiescence to the president’s whims and convictions. In the early days of the spread, President Trump’s daily briefings, with a largely silent VP in the photo-up, muddied up expert positions on how to respond to the health crisis, setting the tone for U.S. death rates, which are higher than most other rich countries in the West, including France, Netherlands, Canada, Denmark, and the United Kingdom.
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