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Mike Pence

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  • Wash. Post Editorial Board Castigates Pence For His “Hypocritical Decision” To Join Trump’s Ticket

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The Washington Post editorial board lambasted Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as a “hypocrite” for calling himself a “Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order,” yet agreeing to become the running mate of Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump, “an uncharitable man who habitually insults minorities, religions and vulnerable people.”

    Many conservative media figures characterized Trump’s choice of Pence as “a nothingburger” and hold reservations about Pence’s abilities to explain away Trump’s controversies. According to Indiana jouranlists, Pence has had a “divisive” tenure as governor thanks in part to his efforts to limit reproductive rights in his home state and his support for a controversial “religious freedom” bill that could have given businesses license to discriminate against LGBT people.

    In a July 15 editorial, the Post wrote that Pence’s “policy record suggests he will indeed appeal to right-wing voters” that Trump has been courting, noting that the Hoosier has “waged war against Planned Parenthood while in Congress” and is a “staunch opponent of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights.” The paper concluded by calling Pence a “hypocrite” because he “has called himself ‘a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order.’ But he has agreed to run on a ticket with an uncharitable man who habitually insults minorities, religions and vulnerable people, who wants to economically isolate the United States and who regularly displays his ignorance of the Constitution and policy”:

    Mr. Pence’s policy record suggests he will indeed appeal to right-wing voters — but perhaps not many others. He waged war against Planned Parenthood while in Congress, saying in 2011 that he was willing to shut down the government in order to defund the organization. A staunch opponent of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, he favored a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union of a man and a woman. He pressed for a constitutional amendment that would cap federal spending at 20 percent of the economy, which would badly hamstring the government as baby boomers begin drawing retirement benefits. He also voted for and defended free-trade deals of the sort Mr. Trump has incorrectly blamed for hollowing out the economy.

    Mr. Pence ran for governor as a fiscal rather than a social conservative, and he began his term by signing a large tax cut into law, which has made finding money for road construction a challenge. He has shown some practicality, taking federal money to expand Medicaid in his state under Obamacare as other GOP governors held out in irrational protest. His defining decision in Indianapolis, however, was signing into law a “religious freedom” bill that encouraged discrimination against LGBT people. He subsequently scaled the law back after a national uproar. Though this unnecessary foray into social issues hobbled him politically, he followed it up with a bill restricting abortions in Indiana. And while he condemned Mr. Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States, he also tried to suspend the settlement of Syrian refugees in his state.

    Mr. Pence appears to be executing his biggest mistake, by far, right now. He has called himself “a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order.” But he has agreed to run on a ticket with an uncharitable man who habitually insults minorities, religions and vulnerable people, who wants to economically isolate the United States and who regularly displays his ignorance of the Constitution and policy. As he campaigns with Mr. Trump, Mr. Pence will have to add “hypocrite” to his list of labels.

  • Mike Pence To Sit Down With “Republican Shill” Sean Hannity For First Appearance As Trump’s Running Mate

    Hannity Has Previously Admitted To “Going Soft In Interviews With Republicans”

    Blog ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    Indiana Gov. Mike Pence’s first public appearance as Donald Trump’s running mate will apparently come in an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity. Hannity is a “Republican shill” and a pro-Trump advocate with the tendency to be a “very soft interviewer” when interviewing the presumptive Republican presidential nominee and other GOP politicians.

    According to Hannity’s show website, he “will speak with Donald Trump’s selection for vice president Mike Pence tonight, less than twelve hours after  Trump took to Twitter to announce his selection of Pence as his running mate. The interview will occur even before Trump’s joint appearance with Pence to announce the selection, which is scheduled for July 16.

    Many conservative media figures characterized Trump’s choice of Pence as “a nothingburger” and hold reservations about Pence’s abilities to explain away Trump’s controversies. But Pence’s interview with Hannity will surely present the governor an opportunity to bolster his reputation within the conservative base, given Hannity’s “unapologetic advocacy” for Trump and other Republicans. Indeed, the neologism "Hannitize" was coined to describe efforts by conservatives "to clean up a messy situation with a softball interview, typically one conducted by Sean Hannity."

    Trump has enjoyed a cozy relationship with Hannity since declaring his candidacy, with the Fox host regularly defending the candidate’s debunked claims and heavily panned policy proposals.  Hannity has also been heavily criticized for being “a very soft interviewer” during the more than 17 hours of interviews he conducted with Trump over the course of the Republican primary.

    Hannity defended his softball interviews by asserting, “I’m not a journalist, I’m a talk show host” and said on his radio show that he hadn’t been critical of Trump or Cruz because he wanted the Republican nominee to win. He has also admitted to “going soft in interviews on Republicans,” stating “I absolutely plead guilty.”

  • What Indiana Journalists Want You To Know About Mike Pence

    Blog ››› ››› JOE STRUPP

    Donald Trump is reportedly set to announce Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate. Pence has had a “divisive” tenure as governor thanks in part to his efforts to limit reproductive rights in his home state and his support for a controversial “religious freedom” bill that could have given businesses license to discriminate against LGBT people, according to Indiana journalists who have covered him for years.

    In interviews with Media Matters in recent days, several Indiana journalists highlighted that Pence currently sports a low favorability rating for an incumbent Republican in the state. Most of his support problems stem from a handful of unpopular policies, the first being an attempt to create what amounted to a government-run news service in 2013 in which the state would have sought to collect and filter news for reporters.

    “The state tried to create this misnamed statewide news service called Just In that would essentially consolidate a lot of the state news services and give the governor an opportunity to put his spin on the kind of stories that should be covered,” recalled Ed Feigenbaum, who writes the popular Indiana Legislative Insight newsletter.

    “Unfortunately, the media got a hold of the memo and the content before he was able to define it. His people were poorly equipped to respond to that, it was really the first misstep of his governorship.”

    After that idea was dropped, Pence found himself at the center of a nationwide controversy for signing legislation that was widely viewed as an opportunity to “make it easier for religious conservatives to refuse service to gay couples.”

    The anti-LGBT law, known as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA, was enacted more than a year ago, but was quickly amended to mitigate the law's impact after it caused a firestorm. But reporters say the anger it sparked from residents and business leaders still has not subsided. Many were upset when it sparked boycotts of local events and caused some major companies to rethink expansion plans in Indiana.

    “It’s something that has cost him support, has cost him campaign contributions,” said Jim Shella, a political reporter at WISH-TV in Indianapolis. “RFRA was seen as a threat to the business community here. It’s caused him to lose support from Republicans, from donors and certainly made him a divisive character here from the perspective of Democrats and a lot of independents.”

    More recently, he championed an abortion bill that was seen as among the strictest in the country and even drew complaints from some Republicans in the state legislature, according to reporters.

    The law, which was recently blocked by a federal judge following a legal challenge by the ACLU and Planned Parenthood, includes provisions that would bar abortions sought due to genetic abnormalities and require that all fetal remains from abortions or miscarriages at any stage of pregnancy be buried or cremated.

    “With the RFRA debate here and the latest abortion bill, it definitely has solidified his support on the conservative side,” said Niki Kelly, a 17-year statehouse reporter for the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette. “But it also abandoned some of the moderates and independents and made it tough for him here.”

    Shella agreed: “Even some of the people who voted for the bill predicted it was unconstitutional. There were a number of pro-life Republican women who got up to speak against the bill in the Indiana state House of Representatives."

    Several Hoosier State reporters say Pence, who has been in office since 2013 after a decade in Congress, is not always forthcoming to reporters beyond talking points.

    “It is hard to get a direct answer out of him,” said Zach Osowski, statehouse reporter for the Evansville Courier & Press.He comes up with what he wants to say and he sticks to it. It’s frustrating for some people. It’s kind of robotic.”

    Osowski said national reporters should know “he is going to stick to the talking points. If he is picked, [the Trump campaign] will pick how to approach things and he will not deviate from that, he is a hard-line party guy.”

    Brandon Smith, statehouse bureau chief for Indiana Public Broadcasting, agreed.

    “He sticks to his talking points, but he does it almost to his own detriment,” said Smith. “When he needs to break from those and give a real answer, he seems unwilling or perhaps even unable to do that. … It’s been frustrating for us because you only get one or two lines from him and they don’t change.”

    Due to a state law, Pence will now have to abandon his reelection campaign this year, though state reporters say he might be glad to given the current state of the race.

    He is polling in the 40% range and is in “a virtual dead heat” with Democrat John Gregg, a former state speaker of the house whom he beat four years ago.

    “For a guy to be a solid Republican and in a state that is solidly red running against a guy that he beat four years ago and he’s in trouble in the polls tells me he’s been divisive,” said Shella of WISH-TV. “His leadership is being questioned.”

    Smith of Indiana Public Broadcasting said those issues and Pence’s general approach has lowered his popularity.

    “While he was highly-regarded coming into the job of governor, the perception has been that his handling of the job of governor has not been great,” said Smith. “While he is leading in most polls, he is struggling and not leading by that much. His unfavorables are higher than his favorables. In such a Republican state as Indiana … it says that the perception of him as governor has not been favorable.”