PRO-LIFE BLOGGER

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Congressman Mike Pence (R-IN)

From Left to Right: Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX),
Chris Dickson, Congressman Mike Pence (R-IN)

Why He Matters

Though he’s now one of the most prominent Republicans in the House, Pence never forgot his radio roots. As chair of the Republican Study Committee (RSC), Pence worked to promote the conservative agenda. He is a popular guest on television and radio and he knows how to use a press conference to his advantage. Friends have nicknamed him “Rush Limbaugh on decaf.” Lee, Christopher, “Putting a New Face on Conservatism,” Washington Post, March 22, 2005 http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A54940-2005Mar21?language=printer(1) Lee, Christopher, “Putting a New Face on Conservatism,” Washington Post, March 22, 2005 http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A54940-2005Mar21?language=printer

Pence’s profile will rise in the 111th Congress as he assumes the title of House GOP Conference chairman, a post to which he was elected in November 2008 after Republicans were badly defeated in the elections. As the face of a new House GOP leadership, Pence will be charged with resurrecting Republicans’ battered brand and trying to sell it to a broad swath of skeptical voters. But the new role seems tailor-made for the media-savvy Republican, who has challenged the party leadership in the past. “If you can’t communicate, you can’t govern,” he told Biz Voice magazine in 2007.Schuman, Tom, “Getting the Word Out,” BizVoice Indiana Chamber, March 2007 http://www.bizvoicemagazine.com/archives/07marapr/Pence.pdf(2)Schuman, Tom, “Getting the Word Out,” BizVoice Indiana Chamber, March 2007 http://www.bizvoicemagazine.com/archives/07marapr/Pence.pdf

Pence was first elected to Congress with 51 percent of the vote in 2000, and has been re-elected easily since. He was named Conservative of the Year by Human Events in 2007.Human Events http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=29818&keywords=\%22Mike+pence\%22(3)Human Events http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=29818&keywords=\%22Mike+pence\%22

Path to Power

Pence was born in Columbus, Ind., one of six children. As a teenager, he was a supporter of President John F. Kennedy, in large part because, like Kennedy, he was raised Catholic.

Pence received his undergraduate degree from Hanover College in 1980. It was at Hanover that he experienced a conversion of sorts — from Democrat sympathizer to Republican, and from Catholic to evangelical protestant.
He attended Indiana University law school, where he received his J.D. in 1986.

Pence started working as an attorney, but quickly found his way into the political spotlight. He ran unsuccessfully for the House seat he now holds in 1988 and 1990, losing both times to Rep. Phil Sharp (D-Ind.), a moderate Democrat.
After his second defeat, Pence wrote a piece called “Confessions of a Negative Campaigner” for the Indiana Policy Review. In it, he quoted St. Paul and apologized for accusing his opponent of shady business dealings. “It is wrong, quite simply, to squander a candidate's priceless moment in history,” he wrote. “It seems more grievous that I left my supporters so few clues as to how I would have governed differently.”Pence, Mike, “Confessions of a Negative Campaigner, Indiana Policy Review, Summer 1991, http://www.mikepence.com/confessions.htm(4)Pence, Mike, “Confessions of a Negative Campaigner, Indiana Policy Review, Summer 1991, http://www.mikepence.com/confessions.htm

After his second defeat, Pence took a break from campaigning, but not from politics. He was the president of the Indiana Policy Review Foundation, a conservative think tank, and the radio host of “The Mike Pence Show, a right-leaning talk program that was syndicated across the state from 1994 to 2000.

When then-Rep. David McIntosh (R-Ind.) left his seat to run for governor in 2000, Pence jumped into the House race. He defeated five other candidates in the Republican primary. In the general election, he was opposed by Robert Rock, an attorney and the son of a former lieutenant governor. At the last minute Bill Frazier, a former Republican state senator, also entered the race as an independent.

Rock attacked Pence for his lack of military service and Frazier argued that he would offer more relief for middle class families. But Pence’s call for across-the-board tax cuts and Medicare reform resonated with voters. He won with 51 percent of the vote.

Pence quickly became one of the party’s leading conservative voices, railing against the dangers of big government. In 2005, he was elected unanimously as chairman of the RSC, a conservative caucus with about 100 members. In that position, he vowed to put more Conservative federal judges on the bench, limit abortion rights, and cut spending and entitlement programs like Medicaid.

Pence ran for House minority leader in 2006, arguing that the party needed to return to its “small government ideology.” However, Pence couldn’t overcome Minority Leader John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) popularity and his own reputation for opposing Republican legislation. He lost, 168 to 27.Hulse, Carl. “G.O.P. in House Gears Up for New Leadership Fight,” New York Times, Nov. 15, 2008 http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/15/us/politics/15cong.html?scp=1&sq=G.O.P.%20Gears%20Up%20for%20New%20Leadership%20Fight&st=cse(5)Hulse, Carl. “G.O.P. in House Gears Up for New Leadership Fight,” New York Times, Nov. 15, 2008 http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/15/us/politics/15cong.html?scp=1&sq=G.O.P.%20Gears%20Up%20for%20New%20Leadership%20Fight&st=cse

In 2008, former rival Boehner convinced him to run for GOP Conference chairman. According to Politico.com, Pence had promised Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.) he would stay out of the race, but Pence changed his mind. He ran unopposed. O’Connor, Patrick, “Boehner Holding on as House Mayor,” Politico, Nov. 16, 2008 http://dyn.politico.com/printstory.cfm?uuid=9D30CAA9-18FE-70B2-A82B6B62EB14582D(6)O’Connor, Patrick, “Boehner Holding on as House Mayor,” Politico, Nov. 16, 2008 http://dyn.politico.com/printstory.cfm?uuid=9D30CAA9-18FE-70B2-A82B6B62EB14582D

According to the Almanac of American Politics, some politicians have speculated that Pence would like to run for Senate one day.Almanac of American Politics, 2008 edition(7)Almanac of American Politics, 2008 edition

The Issues

Pence is one of the most outspoken conservatives in the Republican Party. He is a particular champion of controlling the federal budget and cutting government spending, and also supports free markets and “traditional” values.

His decisions are guided by his religion — he tells people “I am a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order.”Lee, Christopher, “Putting a New Face on Conservatism,” Washington Post, March 22, 2005 http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A54940-2005Mar21?language=printer(8)Lee, Christopher, “Putting a New Face on Conservatism,” Washington Post, March 22, 2005 http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A54940-2005Mar21?language=printer

Pence voted with his party 91 percent of the time during the 110th Congress.Washington Post Votes Database http://projects.washingtonpost.com/congress/members/p000587/(9)Washington Post Votes Database http://projects.washingtonpost.com/congress/members/p000587/ However, he has opposed his party on some key measures when they don’t conform to his political beliefs. He voted against President George W. Bush’s education bill, the Medicare/prescription drug bill, and a bankruptcy bill because it included a measure in support of abortion rights.Almanac of American Politics, 2008 edition(7)Almanac of American Politics, 2008 edition

Pence gained notice (and was attacked by many colleagues) when he challenged former Majority Leader Tom Delay’s (R-Tex.) assertion that it would be impossible to make up for spending in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina with budget cuts elsewhere. At the meeting, Pence proposed cutting tax credits to the poor, support for those with AIDS, and Medicaid, saying those offsets would save the government $500 billion over ten years.

Though the leadership was furious, “operation offset” changed the debate in Washington, and ushered in a renewed effort to limit government spending.

Immigration

Pence was at the forefront of the 2006 immigration debate. He worked with Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.) to draft a plan that would appeal to hard-line Republicans and proponents of a guest worker program. The legislation would have required illegal aliens to leave the country and then return on a two-year visa, which could be extended if the recipient passed an English proficiency test.

The measure also proposed creating a privately-run database that would match immigrants with jobs companies were unable to fill with Americans.Allen, Mike. “A Compromise Plan on Immigration,” Newsweek, May 23, 2006 http://www.time.com/time/printout/0,8816,1196991,00.html(10)Allen, Mike. “A Compromise Plan on Immigration,” Newsweek, May 23, 2006 http://www.time.com/time/printout/0,8816,1196991,00.html

The proposal was seen as political blasphemy by many in his base. Conservative commentator Pat Buchanan likened Pence’s involvement with the plan to a scene of betrayal in the movie The Godfather. Team America, a conservative political action committee, launched a Web site feature called “Pence Watch.”DeParle, Jason, “Star of Right Loses His Base at the Border,” New York Times, Aug. 29, 2006 http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/29/washington/29pence.html?scp=1&sq=Star+of+Right+Loses+His+Base+at+the+Border&st=nyt(11)DeParle, Jason, “Star of Right Loses His Base at the Border,” New York Times, Aug. 29, 2006 http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/29/washington/29pence.html?scp=1&sq=Star+of+Right+Loses+His+Base+at+the+Border&st=nyt

The measure ultimately failed.

Protecting Journalists

In 2008, Pence surprised conservatives by supporting a federal shield law that would have protected journalists from revealing their sources to federal officials. “What’s a conservative like me doing passing a law that helps reporters?” Pence asked during a House debate. He explained “the only check on government power in real time is a free and independent press … it’s about protecting the public’s right to know.”Lichtblau, Eric, et al, “From Places Unexpected, Support for the Press,” New York Times, May 10, 2008 http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/10/washington/10shield.html?scp=1&sq=From+Places+Unexpected%2C+Support+for+the+Press&st=nyt(12)Lichtblau, Eric, et al, “From Places Unexpected, Support for the Press,” New York Times, May 10, 2008 http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/10/washington/10shield.html?scp=1&sq=From+Places+Unexpected%2C+Support+for+the+Press&st=nyt

The Network

Pence works closely with other conservative members of the House. He is especially close with Hensarling and Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Tex.). He worked with Rep. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) on the 2005 federal shield law to protect journalists and has allied himself with prominent Senators such as Hutchison.

Foes

Pence was the only House member to file a lawsuit charging that the McCain-Feingold campaign Finance law was unconstitutional. At the time, he said Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) “was so deep in bed with the Democrats his feet are coming out of the bottom of the sheets.”Citizens Club for Growth http://www.citizensclubforgrowth.org/2004/10/mike_pence_makes_sense.php(13)Citizens Club for Growth http://www.citizensclubforgrowth.org/2004/10/mike_pence_makes_sense.php Their relationship has remained chilly.


Footnotes

1.

Lee, Christopher, “Putting a New Face on Conservatism,” Washington Post, March 22, 2005 http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A54940-2005Mar21?language=printer

2.

Schuman, Tom, “Getting the Word Out,” BizVoice Indiana Chamber, March 2007 http://www.bizvoicemagazine.com/archives/07marapr/Pence.pdf

3.

Human Events http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=29818&keywords=\%22Mike+pence\%22

4.

Pence, Mike, “Confessions of a Negative Campaigner, Indiana Policy Review, Summer 1991, http://www.mikepence.com/confessions.htm

5.

Hulse, Carl. “G.O.P. in House Gears Up for New Leadership Fight,” New York Times, Nov. 15, 2008 http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/15/us/politics/15cong.html?scp=1&sq=G.O.P.%20Gears%20Up%20for%20New%20Leadership%20Fight&st=cse

6.

O’Connor, Patrick, “Boehner Holding on as House Mayor,” Politico, Nov. 16, 2008 http://dyn.politico.com/printstory.cfm?uuid=9D30CAA9-18FE-70B2-A82B6B62EB14582D

7.

Almanac of American Politics, 2008 edition

8.

Lee, Christopher, “Putting a New Face on Conservatism,” Washington Post, March 22, 2005 http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A54940-2005Mar21?language=printer

9.

Washington Post Votes Database http://projects.washingtonpost.com/congress/members/p000587/

10.

Allen, Mike. “A Compromise Plan on Immigration,” Newsweek, May 23, 2006 http://www.time.com/time/printout/0,8816,1196991,00.html

11.

DeParle, Jason, “Star of Right Loses His Base at the Border,” New York Times, Aug. 29, 2006 http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/29/washington/29pence.html?scp=1&sq=Star+of+Right+Loses+His+Base+at+the+Border&st=nyt

12.

Lichtblau, Eric, et al, “From Places Unexpected, Support for the Press,” New York Times, May 10, 2008 http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/10/washington/10shield.html?scp=1&sq=From+Places+Unexpected%2C+Support+for+the+Press&st=nyt

13.

Citizens Club for Growth http://www.citizensclubforgrowth.org/2004/10/mike_pence_makes_sense.php

Courtesy of WhoRunsGov at:
http://www.whorunsgov.com/Profiles/Mike_Pence


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