US Election 2016

Mike Pence: From Indiana to the White House

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Media captionTrump's VP pick: what you need to know

Vice-President Mike Pence has become one of the most influential figures in the new White House team. Who is he?

The first negative headlines for Mr Pence concern his use of a private email account while Indiana governor.

After being a fierce critic of Hillary Clinton for her unusual email arrangements, he is now accused of hypocrisy, although unlike her, he was not handling classified information on his AOL account.

On the whole, the vice-president has been a very adept deputy, not least in leading the team deciding key appointments in the new administration, and being a smooth communicator in media appearances. But he has many critics.

The journey began last July, when the 57-year-old met Mr Trump and his family at his Indianapolis home, and was asked to join the ticket.

It's easy to see why he was asked. The governor is a favourite among social conservatives who boasts considerable experience in Washington.

But before being named as the vice-presidential pick, Mr Pence had criticised Mr Trump's proposed ban on Muslims entering the US as "offensive and unconstitutional" and called the business mogul's comments on US District Judge Gonzalo Curiel "inappropriate".

Mr Trump had suggested a judge's Mexican heritage prevented him getting a fair trial in a suit against Trump University.

Liberal roots

Mr Pence was raised Catholic along with his five siblings in Columbus, Indiana.

He told the Indianapolis Star in 2012 that liberal icons John F Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr inspired him to begin a career in politics.

The governor, who has described himself as "a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order", voted for Jimmy Carter in 1980.

He has said it was not until college when he met his future wife, Karen, at an evangelical church that his views began to shift.

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Media captionUS vice-presidential debate: Two styles of attack

Mr Pence has served as governor of Indiana since 2013, but also has 12 years of legislative experience as a member of the US House of Representatives.

During his final two years in Washington, he served as the chair of the House Republican Conference, the third highest-ranking Republican leadership position.

He also chaired the Republican Study Group, a coalition of conservative House Republicans, which could give him a boost with some evangelicals of the party that have questioned Mr Trump's ideological purity, according to BBC's Anthony Zurcher.

The governor, who is up for re-election, also considered running for president in 2016.

This year is not the first time Mr Pence had considered a run for the White House. In 2009, he visited early primary states, fuelling speculation that he had ambitions for a 2012 run.

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Image caption The governor also spent 12 years in Congress

In the past few weeks, Mr Pence has been keeping a busy schedule alongside Mr Trump as he appears in rallies nationwide - often in a number of states per day.

One of his key roles has been supporting the candidate when controversies have erupted: in September alone, he defended Mr Trump when he appeared to suggest people take arms against presidential rival Hillary Clinton, and stood up for his son Donald Trump Jr over comments he made comparing refugees to Skittles.

In early September, he went against Mr Trump's long-held view that President Obama was not born in the United States (days later, Mr Trump said he too had changed his mind on this issue).

Courting controversy

The governor sparked a public outcry after signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law last March.

Critics argued the law discriminates against the LGBT community by allowing businesses to refuse service over religious beliefs.

Under national pressure, he later signed an amendment stating businesses could not discriminate against gay people, drawing criticism from conservatives who said they felt betrayed by the revision.

Mr Pence, an evangelical Christian and father of three, also signed into law one of the strictest abortion laws in the country in March.

Indiana joins North Dakota as the second US state to ban women from seeking an abortion if the child is born with a disability.

In 2012, the then-congressman likened the Supreme Court's ruling upholding the Affordable Health Care Act to the 9/11 terrorist attacks in a closed-door House Republican meeting.

He later apologised.


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