Pence on the Issues


Alan Rappeport contributed reporting.

Mike Pence, who has served as governor of Indiana since 2013, will be Donald Trump’s running mate on the Republican presidential ticket. Pence, a staunch social conservative, was elected in 2000 to the House of Representatives, where he served in the party leadership. Here is a look at his stand on important issues and how he compares with Trump.


Pence is opposed to granting amnesty for people who have come to the United States without authorization. He has supported increased border security measures, strict enforcement of laws prohibiting unauthorized residents from working in the United States and a government-run guest worker program that would place prospective immigrants with employers who cannot find U.S. workers to fill open jobs. Earlier this year, he sought to bar the resettlement of Syrian refugees in his state.

Where they differ: After Trump called for a ban on Muslim migration to the United States, Pence said on Twitter that the proposal was “offensive and unconstitutional.” Trump also initially said Syrian refugees should be taken in, but he quickly reversed that opinion.

Gay Rights

Pence, who has supported numerous legislative efforts to ban same-sex marriage in Indiana, was at the center of the national debate over so-called religious freedom laws that critics said could make it easier for businesses to refuse service to gay couples. As a congressman, Pence opposed federal funding that would support treatment for people suffering from HIV and AIDS, unless the government simultaneously invested in programs to discourage people from engaging in same-sex relationships. He also resisted changes to hate-crime laws that would have included acts against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, and he opposed the end of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” a Clinton administration policy that allowed closeted LGBT people to serve in the military.

Where they differ: In the 1980s and 1990s, Trump donated to charities that worked to combat the AIDS crisis, and in 2000, he said he supported amending the 1964 Civil Rights Act to “include a ban of discrimination based on sexual orientation.”


As governor, Pence signed into law several regulations that add broad limits to women’s access to abortions. He approved a bill in March that outlawed abortions based on a fetus’ “race, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, or diagnosis or potential diagnosis of the fetus having Down syndrome or any other disability.” The bill led to backlash on social media from opponents of the regulation. Pence also called for an investigation of Planned Parenthood after footage leaked by abortion rights opponents outraged many abortion rights advocates. The videos turned out to have been altered by the people who released them, and the videographers were later indicted on a charge of tampering with a government record.

Where they differ: Trump supported abortion rights until 2011. This year, he said that abortion should be banned and then said women violating the ban should face “some sort of punishment.” He recanted within hours, after he was criticized — even by some conservatives — and said that doctors who perform abortions should be held legally responsible; women, he said, were the victims.

Foreign Policy

Pence’s foreign policy views mesh well with Trump’s “America First” framework, which is built around the idea of a robust U.S. military. The Indiana governor called for big increases in military spending during a speech in 2015, and he has criticized Democrats who do not use the phrase “Islamic extremism” when discussing jihadis. As a member of Congress, where he was on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Pence was a strong supporter of Israel and a proponent of tough interrogation measures for prisoners at Guantánamo Bay. Pence voted to authorize military action in Iraq in 2002 and opposed proposals to set a date to withdraw troops from Iraq.

Where they differ: The biggest difference between Trump and Pence when it comes to foreign policy is their respective stances on the Iraq War. Pence supported it, while Trump claims that he was against it from the beginning.

Gun Rights

Pence has received an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association, which has financially supported his campaigns for the House and for governor. He supports a national right to carry a firearm in public, and in 2004, as a member of the House, he voted to repeal gun control laws in Washington. He wrote on Twitter in June that he “will always be a strong proponent of the Second Amendment.”

Where they differ: Trump is also very pro-gun, but he has expressed openness to restricting people on terrorist watch lists from buying firearms.


Pence has said he supports free trade, but he has also raised concern over the enforcement of trade agreements with China. Specifically, he asked the federal government to investigate allegations that Chinese steel companies were dodging tariffs in deals with U.S. businesses. As governor, Pence visited nations like Japan and Germany on trade missions meant to stoke Indiana’s trade relationships with international businesses.

Where they differ: While Pence has expressed support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, Trump regularly rails against it. Trump has also threatened to impose tariffs on imports from foreign countries to protect U.S. jobs.

Economy and Budget

The Cato Institute, a libertarian-leaning group, called Pence a “champion tax cutter” and lauded his “frugal” spending record. As governor, he repealed Indiana’s inheritance tax and lowered taxes on corporate income and business property. In 2010, Pence proposed a bill in the House that would have instituted a limit on federal spending, but the idea did not have enough support to pass.

Where they differ: Trump has promised big tax cuts, but he does want to close some loopholes, such as the one on carried interest, that benefit the rich.


In 2015, Gov. Pence threatened to disobey the Obama administration’s orders to lower carbon emissions unless the regulations underwent extensive changes. Pence said the regulations would “raise electricity costs on Hoosiers, result in less reliable electricity and impede economic growth and prosperity in Indiana and the rest of the country.” He said the Clean Power Plan was “ill conceived and poorly constructed,” and he accused the Environmental Protection Agency of going beyond its legal authority in enacting the rules under the plan. Under Pence, Indiana joined several other states that have tried to block the Clean Power Plan in court.

Where they differ: Trump and Pence are largely in agreement on energy and the environment. Trump is also against regulations to limit carbon emissions. Like Pence, he has doubts about the reality of climate change. And he has expressed concern about the dangers that windmills pose to birds.


Pence was one of only 25 Republican congressmen who voted against President George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind policy. As governor, he challenged conservative Republicans in the state Senate to support legislation to establish a preschool program that would primarily serve children in poor families. He vocally supported school choice and setting learning standards at the local level, and he pushed to direct state support toward technical and vocational education programs.

Where they differ: Trump has said little about his education plans other than that he is against Common Core and that “education has to be at a local level.”

© 2016 New York Times News Service


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