Here are six things you might not know about Donald Trump's VP pick, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence

Here are six things you might not know about Donald Trump's VP pick, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence
Posted at 12:50 PM, Jul 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-16 09:21:27-04

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump announced Friday on Twitter that he selected Indiana Gov. Mike Pence to be his running mate.

The timing of Trump’s announcement coincides with the Indiana deadline for Pence to be removed from the state’s ballot for the governor’s race. And this is just one day after Trump flew with his family to Indianapolis to meet Pence on Wednesday.

Trump was originally scheduled to announce his running mate in a news conference on Friday, but pushed it back amid an attack in Nice, France late Thursday. 

Pence, 57, succeeded former Republican Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels after defeating Democrat John Gregg in 2012.

Though Pence is serving his first term as governor, he’s an experienced politician, having served in congressional leadership roles during his six terms as a member of the House of Representatives.

Here are a few things voters outside of Indiana might not know about Pence, but will likely learn in the coming weeks and months:

A Balanced Ticket 

Pence has solid, conservative bona fides, and he’s been consistent on the issues, said Andy Downs, Director of the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne.

“He helps bring the base back to the ticket,” Downs said.

Adding Pence to the ticket could be a means of extending an olive branch to social conservatives for Trump, who has made past comments that weren’t well received by the voting bloc. Pence also could get big GOP donors Charles and David Koch to open up their wallets for Trump, something the presumptive Republican nominee hasn’t been able to do himself.

But Then Again...

Pence could be too socially conservative for some voters.

His decision to sign the controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act in 2015 drew the ire of business leaders and the LGBT community alike. Critics of the bill said its wording would allow businesses to discriminate against gay and transgender people.

After national backlash that included calls to boycott the state, Pence signed an additional bill that amended the act to include LGBT protections, which didn’t sit well with Pence’s social conservative base.

“It basically put him in a no-win situation,” Downs said.

Presidential Aspirations

Pence has long been believed to have his heart set on becoming president. As a congressman, Pence pursued leadership positions, both within the Republican Party and on congressional committees. He was the vice-chairman of the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Middle East and South Asia, as well as the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution.

In 2009, Pence was unanimously elected chairman of the Republican Conference, making him the third-highest ranking Republican in the House of Representatives.

Critics have seen his decision to run for governor of Indiana as a move to bolster his presidential resume. His decision to give speeches in other states during the early years of his governorship did nothing to diminish those critiques.

“A lot of people would say that in his first couple of years in office, he was actually running for president,” Downs said.

He Tried to Create a State News Agency 

Virtually all state-level government organizations try to direct the conversation by employing public relations professionals and issuing press releases.

But in a move roundly panned by state and national media, Pence tried to take it a step further. In January 2015, his administration announced “JustIN,” a state-run news website that would feature breaking news and feature stories.

"The problem was, it appeared to be a very blatant attempt to get around the media,” Downs said.

Pence, himself a former member of the media, later scrapped the plan.

His Poll Numbers Aren’t Great

Pence’s approval rating among his Indiana constituents sits at about 40 percent, according to recent polls, and his lead over his opponent in the Indiana gubernatorial race, Gregg — the same opponent he defeated four years ago — is about 4 points, or within the margin of error.

Additionally, Pence’s decision to sign a law that banned abortions motivated by fetal genetic abnormalities — which has since been blocked by a federal court — lost him support among women, including female Republicans in the statehouse.

But that may not hurt Trump, who has a perception issue among women of his own to combat.

Local Ties 

Pence, a Columbus, Indiana, native, won his first congressional election in Indiana's second district in 2000.

After district maps were redrawn in 2003, Pence spent his next five terms in congress serving Indiana's sixth congressional district, which at the time encompassed all of southeast Indiana, including Cincinnati-neighboring Dearborn, Franklin, Ohio and Switzerland counties.