In the January issue of Indianapolis Monthly, I’ve got a 5,000-word profile of Mike Pence. On January 14, Pence will be sworn in as Indiana’s new governor, and I talked to more than 30 of his friends, acquaintances, and former aides in an attempt to understand the guy.
The strange thing is, I still don’t think I do. I mean, I understand his belief system — “a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican, in that order,” as he frequently puts it. And I understand his political past, which includes two early (and ugly) congressional campaigns and a legislative record, once he did make it to D.C., that’s as rigid and far-right as they come. But what I don’t understand is how Pence could set so much of that history aside during his run for governor. When I started my reporting, I admired Pence for possessing a consistent and coherent world-view — especially when one compares him to other Bush-era conservatives like Paul Ryan or Mitch McConnell. By the time I finished, however, it felt like he had become more . . . malleable. Or, as I put it in the story: “During his run for governor, Pence marshaled his considerable political talent in a brand-new way — not to champion his beliefs, but to obscure them.”
One of the juicy tidbits in my profile is that, more than a year before the election, Pence made a calculated decision to smooth over his previous positions and methods. There’s other good stuff, as well, including some stuff we couldn’t fit in. Since Pence is such an important Hoosier (and since there’s a good chance [a very good chance, in my opinion] that he’ll run for president), I’m going to spend the next few days writing a series of supplemental blog posts. So check back for more on the following topics — and please read the profile itself.
- Pence’s famous “Confessions of a Negative Campaigner” essay (with the full text)
- Pence’s personal faith (and how he’s become more secretive about it)
- Pence’s rigid conservatism (plus far more on farm aid than you’d ever want to know!)
- Pence and the press (with some thoughts about the reduced size of Indiana’s political media)