Mike Pence is one of the most interesting people in the Trump administration and the fact that he’s been able to avoid almost every scandal and major issue within the White House and has actually worked on policy is fascinating. Few vice-presidents have been as active and involved as he have, and it all dates back to his lifelong interest in politics. That life is chronicled by Andrea Neal in Pence: The Path to Power
Neal, a biographer with a keen interest in Indiana and Mike Pence’s long history there. I didn’t know much about Mike Pence when he became Trump’s running mate and even when he became the Vice President of the United States. I’d knew he’d been the Governor of Indiana and in Congress but I didn’t realize how contentious his fight to get into Congress was and how many times he had to wage that battle. One of Pence’s battles for the House was even dubbed the “meanest race in Indiana history,” which is pretty shocking considering how docile Pence seems today.
Pence: The Path to Power also dips into Pence’s time in college at Hanover College, where Pence was a fraternity president and came into his faith. One of the funniest stories in the book is when Pence got his fraternity in trouble because he wouldn’t lie to authorities about whether or not they had just held a party. That moment just screamed Mike Pence. The book also covers the early years of Mike Pence’s relationship with his wife Karen and their struggles with fertility while simultaneously looking at the intricacies of Pence’s pursuit to represent the state of Indiana down in Washington, DC.
In the final chapters of the book, Neal looks at how Mike Pence went from beleaguered governor depending a Religious Freedom act in his state to campaigning on a national ticket and eventually moving into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Throughout the book I learned a lot about Mike Pence as a person and a leader, but in this section, I learned a lot about an election I thought I’d already explored completely. For example, I had no idea that Trump was actually choosing between Newt Gingrich and Mike Pence to be his running mate. Sure, I’d heard that rumor, but hearing about how Trump courted Pence and Gingrich kept calling Eric Trump trying to keep his name in the race was interesting. Neal also goes into detail about how Mike Pence’s tenure as Vice President of the United States has already been so revolutionary, especially when it comes to his impact on policy and the veto process in Congress.
Overall, this book avoids being overtly partisan and instead focuses on providing a complete picture of who Mike Pence is and how he came the man that intrigues so many and apparently infuriates other. The author expertly looks at Pence as a Hoosier through and through and while she talks about the hard issues and the semi-scandals of Pence’s career, she neither lambasts him or holds him up as a deity. It’s a great read for anyone on any side of the political aisle that wants to learn more about the man who is the Vice President of the United States and continues to be a person to watch as the Trump administration unfolds.