This expert is no longer a staff member at The Heritage Foundation.
Mike Pence joined The Heritage Foundation as a distinguished visiting fellow in February 2021 after serving four years as vice president of the United States.
In his capacity as a distinguished visiting fellow, Pence advised Heritage experts on public policy issues and ensured Heritage remains the leading conservative voice on solutions to America’s biggest challenges. Pence also wrote a monthly column for The Daily Signal, Heritage’s multimedia news outlet.
Three decades ago, it was The Heritage Foundation’s influence that inspired Pence to help create a think tank in his home state of Indiana. After coming to Washington as a congressman and later as vice president, Pence frequently collaborated with Heritage.
As vice president, Heritage worked closely with Pence and others in the Trump administration on many of the consequential policy victories they achieved for the American people. These included confirming three conservative justices to the U.S. Supreme Court, advancing pro-life policies, cutting taxes and regulations, supporting law enforcement, enforcing immigration laws, and rebuilding our military. America became an energy exporter and less reliant on foreign sources. The country also became an economic success story, leading to the lowest unemployment rate in five decades. The administration prioritized veterans’ care, withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal, eliminated terrorist leaders who threatened the American people, and broker historic Middle East peace deals.
Pence was born in Columbus, Indiana, on June 7, 1959, one of six children born to Edward and Nancy Pence. As a young boy he had a front row seat to the American Dream. After his grandfather immigrated to the United States when he was 17, his family settled in the Midwest.
As a child, Pence watched his Mom and Dad build everything that matters—a family, a business, and a good name. Sitting at the feet of his mother and his father, who started a successful convenience store business in their small Indiana town, he was raised to believe in the importance of hard work, faith, and family.
Pence set off for Hanover College, earning his bachelor’s degree in history in 1981. While there, he renewed his Christian faith which remains the driving force in his life. He later attended Indiana University School of Law and met the love of his life, Karen Pence.
After graduating, Pence practiced law, led the Indiana Policy Review Foundation, and began hosting “The Mike Pence Show,” a syndicated talk radio show and a weekly television public affairs program in Indiana. Along the way he became the proud father to three children, Michael, Charlotte, and Audrey.
Growing up in Indiana, surrounded by good, hardworking Hoosiers, Pence always knew that he needed to give back to the state and the country that had given him so much. In 2000, he launched a successful bid for his local congressional seat, entering the U.S. House of Representatives at the age of 40.
The people of East-Central Indiana elected Pence six times to represent them in Congress. On Capitol Hill, he established himself as a champion of limited government, fiscal responsibility, economic development, educational opportunity, and the U.S. Constitution.
Pence’s colleagues quickly recognized his leadership ability and unanimously elected him to serve as chairman of both the House Republican Study Committee and House Republican Conference. In this role, Pence helped make government smaller and more effective, reduce spending, and return power to state and local governments.
In 2013, Pence left the nation’s capital when Hoosiers elected him the 50th governor of Indiana. He brought the same limited government and low tax philosophy to the Indiana Statehouse. As governor, he enacted the largest income tax cut in Indiana history, lowering individual income tax rates, the business personal property tax, and the corporate income tax in order to strengthen the State’s competitive edge and attract new investment and good-paying jobs. Due to his relentless focus on jobs, the state’s unemployment rate fell by half during his four years in office, and at the end of his term, more Hoosiers were working than at any point in the state’s 200-year history.
As governor of Indiana, Pence increased school funding, expanded school choice, and created the first state-funded pre-K plan in Indiana history. He made career and technical education a priority in every high school. Indiana, known as “The Crossroads of America,” invested more than $800 million in new money for roads and bridges across the state. Despite the record tax cuts and new investments in roads and schools, the state remained fiscally responsible, as Pence worked with members of the Indiana General Assembly to pass two honestly balanced budgets that left the state with strong reserves and AAA credit ratings that were the envy of the nation.
It was Indiana’s success story, Pence’s record of legislative and executive experience, and his strong family values that prompted President Donald Trump to select Pence as his running mate in July 2016. The American people elected Trump and Pence on Nov. 8, 2016.
Pence remains grateful for the grace of God, the love and support of his family, and the blessings of liberty that are every American’s birthright.
Oct 4, 2021 4 min read