6 things about Donald Trump's running mate Mike Pence

Republican vice-presidential nominee Mike Pence in the debate hall at Hofstra University on Sept 26, 2016.
Republican vice-presidential nominee Mike Pence in the debate hall at Hofstra University on Sept 26, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS

Republican vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence, who is also Indiana governor, has a rich background of policy making and governing experience .

The 57-year-old is generally well liked in the Republican circles but has his share of controversies because of his conservative ideologies.

Here are six things to know about Mr Pence:

1. He served in the US House of Representatives for 12 years

He was a member of the US House from 2001 to 2013. For two years, he served as the Chair of the House Republican Conference, making him the third-highest ranking person in the party. In 2006, he contested to be minority leader of the House but lost to Mr John Boehner.

He previously worked as an attorney at a private practice and launched two failed congressional bids in 1988 and 1990, before getting a job at a think-tank. He also hosted a radio talk show and a TV show in Indiana from 1994 to 1999.

2. A Catholic-Democrat-turned-Evangelical-Republican

Mr Pence came from a family that idolised Mr John F. Kennedy, the nation's first Irish-Catholic president. He even kept a box of Kennedy memorabilia. "It may be that I grew up in a big Irish Catholic family like he did. Maybe it was that my grandparents were so proud of the first Irish Catholic president," he told CBN News in a 2010 interview.


But he left the Democratic party around 1980 when Mr Ronald Reagan was running for presidency. "His ideals inspired me to leave


the party of my youth and become a Republican like he did," Mr Pence said in August 2016 during a speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.

At a campaign rally in California in the following month, he likened Mr Trump to Mr Reagan, saying the tycoon wants to build a stronger military, cut taxes and reduce regulation, all foundation blocks of the Reagan agenda.

3. He's a devout Christian slammed for his abortion laws

He likes to describe himself as a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order. He's known to talk about his faith often, even at Congress. The son of a gas station manager was raised as a Catholic and served in church as an altar boy. He even considered entering priesthood. His decision to leave the Catholic Church was reportedly a source of disappointment to his mother.

In March 2016, he signed into law one of the strictest abortion laws in the US. Indiana is now the second American state - after North Dakota - to ban abortions when the foetus has a disability such as Down Syndrome, a law likely to be challenged in courts. An online backlash under the name "Periods for Pence" targeted his support of the law.

He reportedly likes to use the phrase: "I'm a conservative, but I'm not angry about it."

4. He also became famous because of a " religious freedom" law

Mr Pence was already well known and respected in Republican circles when he was elected governor of Indiana in 2012. But he became a household name in 2015 when he signed a controversial religious freedom Bill into law . He said it would extend legal protections to Indiana business owners who didn not want to participate in same-sex weddings, citing their religious beliefs. But opponents argued that he was sanctioning discrimination.

The law got so much attention that at the 2015 White House correspondents' dinner, President Barack Obama joked that he and Vice-President Joe Biden were so close that "in some places in Indiana, they won't serve us pizza anymore".

5. He's long been viewed as a potential presidential candidate.

In 2010, conservative activists at a Values Voter Summit voted Mr Pence as their top choice for a 2012 presidential candidate, a key test of grassroots support, though not one that is necessarily indicative of success. His name was also floated in 2008 as a potential presidential contender. But he decided to stay in Indiana and run for governor, where he eked out a win against businessman John Gregg.

6. He loves animals, Wizard of Oz and Superman

Mr Pence, his wife Karen and three children are animal lovers and would bring their beagle Maverick and their two cats, Pickle and Oreo, to the vice-presidential residence if the Republicans win the election. His favourite movie is said to be The Wizard Of Oz and his favourite superhero is Superman.