Mike Pence is an anomaly in politics. He has strong opinions, a near ubiquitous trait among politicians, he holds firm to his convictions, a rarer attribute, and he is nevertheless well-like by nearly everyone, a nearly impossible trick.
In his dozen years in Congress he never lost the confidence of the Tea Party crowd, the result of a steady record in favor of conservative policies. And yet he never alienated the establishment core of the party, despite regularly bucking them on key votes. During his tenure he was elected chair of the Republican Study Group, which is about as far to the right as you can get in the House of Representatives, and yet he was also elected to lead the Republican Conference, the caucus for Republicans across the spectrum.
The man is so affable that Democrat John Gregg—Pence’s opponent in the Indiana governor’s race—said that he’d serve as a character witness for the governor, if ever necessary. In today’s politics, defined by division and rancor, that type of thing just doesn’t happen.
In many ways he’s the perfect foil for Donald Trump. He’s polished and well practiced, a good contrast with Trump’s off-the-cuff, what-will-he-say-next style. He exudes an amiable Midwestern style, while Trump is bombastic New Yorker. He’s experienced, while Trump relishes his outsider status. He knows the ins-and-outs of Washington, while Trump wants to blow them up and start over. And he’s fluent in social conservatism, whereas Trump brings the economic know-how of a businessman.
All of Pence’s qualities were on display over the last several days, as he’s sought to re-introduce himself to a national audience. More importantly, he eloquently established the what the Republican ticket offers an America reeling from years of Democrat leadership.
:Seven and a half years of Barak Obama and Hillary Clinton’s policies have weakened america’s place in the world and weakened our nation’s economy. Terrorist attacks at home and abroad…all attest to a world spinning apart,” Pence told a crowd.
Many of Pence’s comments focused on the erosion of our national security, which was dramatically hastened during Hillary Clinton’s time as Secretary of State. Together, she and Obama destabilized an entire region as they prioritized winning the short-term political battle at home, even if it meant losing the war with our enemies abroad.
“History teaches us that weakness arouses evil,” Pence said. “Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama’s foreign policy of leading from behind, moving red lines, feigning resets with a resurgent Russia and the rise of ISIS is a testament to this truth of history and we must bring a change to America’s stand in the world,” Pence said.
Although the world seems to be on the precipice of disaster brought on by the spread of evil ideologies, Pence also recognized that there is much work to be done at home. Too many Americans were knocked down during the recession and were never able to get back up again. The so-called recovery simply passed them over. And now we’re told that slow economic growth, puttering hiring, and stagnant wages is supposed to be the “new normal.”
Pence is having none of it. He spoke of his tremendous leadership as governor in Indiana, in which he built a growing economy on balanced budgets, and low taxes, even while making record investments in roads education and healthcare. Nothing in Clinton’s history suggests she is capable of similarly navigating that path.
“Donald Trump wants to cut taxes. Hillary Clinton plans to raise on working families, small businesses and family farms,” Pence argued. “Where Donald Trump is committed to repealing Obamacare lock, stock and barrel, Clinton looks at Obamacare as a good start and wants to take Berne Sander’s path down to socialized medicine.
And that’s what the 2016 presidential race boils down to: A study in contrasts. Two completely different ways of viewing the world based largely on two diametrically different opinions on government’s ability to deliver on it’s promises without infringing the rights of the people it belongs to. It’s a generation-defining choice. And with a man like Pence at the helm, you can’t help but feel confident that we’re making the right one.
“To every American who shares our convictions I say to you, join us. For the sake of our security, for the sake of our prosperity, for the sake of a Supreme Court that will never turn its back on our God-given liberties, let’s come together as a party, as a people, as a movement to make America great again.”