In the 2010 Values Voters Summit held in Washington D.C., Michael Richard Pence came up a surprising first in a poll among potential 2012 Republican presidential candidates in a strong field featuring luminaries and party heavyweights such as Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin. Critics were quick to point out that a straw poll conducted among a small group of conservatives can hardly be considered as a fair reflection of sentiments on the ground. Others, however, highlighted that the demographics of the summit’s attendees are a good representation of the conservative base of the Republican Party.
Ironically, at the start of his political career, Gov. Pence’s two failed attempts for a seat in the U.S. House of Representative in 1988 and 1990 were blamed on his then radical conservative ideas. And yet, over the next two decades, Gov. Pence stood at the forefront of the conservative political realignment which ultimately saw his so-called fringe political positions becoming mainstream. By the end of his six terms in Congress, Gov. Pence also became the third most powerful Republican in Congress. Incredibly, his stock rose even higher when the tea party movement emerged in 2009. There are still some who questioned why the father of three did not make a serious attempt to win the GOP presidential nomination in the last two general election cycles.
With a well-documented track record of opposition to abortions, gay marriage, federal entitlement programs and government bailouts, Pence is the rock star of the conservative and evangelical base. His courageous revolt against former President Bush’s Wall Street bailout bill in 2008 brought him into national prominence and cemented his heartthrob status in the conservative heartland. His proclamation during the 2010 Values Voters Summit - "I am a Christian, a conservative and a Republican – in that order" - has even been printed on t-shirts and bumper stickers.
Donald Trump’s decision to choose Gov. Pence as his running mate for the 2016 presidential election will not only guarantee Mr. Trump a vice president with zero skeletons in his closet, but also a home ground advantage in the Rust Belt and Bible Belt states.