5 Things to Know About Mike Pence

Donald Trump, Mike Pence
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (R) and Indiana Governor Mike Pence (L) wave to the crowd before addressing the crowd during a campaign stop at the Grand Park Events Center in Westfield, Indiana, July 12, 2016. |

Indiana Governor and former member of Congress Mike Pence was reportedly selected by presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump to his vice presidential running mate.

According to Roll Call, Trump selected Governor Pence after considering a number of rumored vice presidential running mates including New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.

Below, in no particular order, are five things to know about Pence, touching his religious background as well as his positions on issues like abortion and religious liberty.

1. Catholic Then Evangelical

Pence was raised in the Roman Catholic Church and attended private schools, belonging to what he once described as a large Irish family that celebrated the 1960 election of Democrat John F. Kennedy.

In an interview with CBN in 2010 while still a member of Congress, Pence explained that he had a deep spiritual conversion in college that eventually led him to become an evangelical.

"I began to meet young men and women who talked about having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and while I cherish my Catholic upbringing and the foundation that it poured in my faith, that had not been a part of my experience," said Pence to CBN.

"Standing at a Christian music festival in Asbury, Ky., in the spring of 1978, I gave my life to Jesus Christ and that's changed everything."

2. Once Endorsed Ted Cruz for President

Initially during the 2016 Republican primary season Pence officially endorsed not Trump but rather U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas.

"I'm not against anybody, but I will be voting for Ted Cruz in the Republican primary," said Pence to WIBC back in April.

"Let me be very clear on this race: Whoever wins the Republican nation for president of the United States, I'm going to work my heart out to get elected this fall."

Pence's endorsement of Cruz, however, also came with the Indiana governor speaking highly of Trump and urging primary voters to "make up their own minds" on who to elect.

"[Trump has] given voice to the frustration of millions of working Americans with the lack of progress in Washington, D.C.," added Pence.

3. A Pioneer Opponent of Common Core

As governor of Indiana, Pence is credited with being the first state executive to sign legislation to reverse the controversial Common Core State Standards.

In March of 2014, Pence signed Indiana Senate Bill 91, which reversed the Common Core standards adopted about four years earlier by the Hoosier state.

"I believe when we reach the end of this process there are going to be many other states around the country that will take a hard look at the way Indiana has taken a step back," stated Pence.

"Where we get those standards, where we derive them from, to me is of less significance than are we actually serving the best interests of our kids."

As the IndyStar reported in March 2014, while the bill Pence signed did officially reverse Common Core, the change was not a complete one.

"Others have been quick to point out that the law does not prevent drawing from Common Core standards to create the new math and English benchmarks required to begin July 1 for all public schools," reported the IndyStar.

"State education officials overseeing the drafts have been criticized for allowing the standards to be bloated and too similar to Common Core."

4. Pro-Life Record

Pence has been known as a staunch supporter of the pro-life movement. While in Congress he championed the effort to defund Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

Earlier this year, Pence signed into law House Enrolled Act 1337, a pro-life bill that banned abortions on the basis of a baby's race, gender, or potential disability.

"HEA 1337 will ensure the dignified final treatment of the unborn and prohibits abortions that are based only on the unborn child's sex, race, color, national origin, ancestry, or disability, including Down syndrome," said Pence in a statement from March.

"Some of my most precious moments as Governor have been with families of children with disabilities, especially those raising children with Down syndrome."

When Trump initially stated he supported punishing the mother who sought an abortion, Pence was one of the many pro-lifers to express his disagreement with the idea.

"Governor Pence does not agree with the statement made by Donald Trump. As someone who has embraced the pro-life position all of his life, he has a deep compassion for expected mothers and the unborn," stated Pence in March.

"The Governor believes that it's important to focus on policies, as we advance the sanctity of life on those that are performing the abortions."

5. Religious Liberty Legislation

While Governor of Indiana, Pence signed into law the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act, garnering much backlash from LGBT and progressive groups.

Even though the state RFRA law did not mention the LGBT community at all and was inspired by federal legislation that had been on the books since the 1990s and had bipartisan support, many activists wrongly interpreted it as allowing Christian businesses to deny services to gay people.

Later, though, Pence caved to pressure from liberal groups and approved a "fix" that undermined the religious freedom protections in the bill by taking away the rights of business owners to bring religious freedom violations before a court. Pence was criticized by religious freedom advocates for the move.

"Last weekend I called upon the Indiana General Assembly to clarify that this new judicial standard would not create a license to discriminate or to deny services to any individual as its critics have alleged," stated Pence in April of 2015.

"I am grateful for the efforts of legislators, business and other community leaders who came together to forge this clarifying language in the law."

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