Episode 4 - Mike Pence

Updated: Feb 6, 2020


Michael Richard Pence was born June 7, 1959 in Columbus, Indiana to Nancy Jane and Edward Joseph Pence, Jr. His father ran a group of gas stations while his mom stayed at home with Mike and his five siblings. The Pences were Irish Catholic Democrats, but they weren’t very interested in politics until JFK became the nation’s first Irish Catholic President. Mike said that JFK and Martin Luther King were very inspiring to him as a kid. The family was very devout when it came to the catholic church and Mike and his brothers served as altar boys at St. Columbia Catholic Church.

Mike’s brothers were naturally athletic, but Mike was quite the opposite. He told a local newspaper in 1988, that growing up he was a fat little kid, the real pumpkin in the pickle patch” and his football skills were only “one grade above the blocking sled.” Instead, Mike focused on other extracurriculars like public speaking and at 17, he became the youth coordinator for the Bartholomew County Democratic Party.

After graduating from Columbus North High School in 1977, Mike attended Hanover College, a private liberal arts college affiliated with the Presbyterian church. He had slimmed down and learned how to play the acoustic guitar, so he got a little cooler just in time for college. Pence joined the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity while he was at Hanover. The fraternity was a mix of evangelical Christians to hard-core drug users. This was around the same time that the movie “Animal House” was released. Hanover had a strict no-alcohol policy, but Mike’s fraternity was hosting parties that would recreate scenes from the Animal House movie including toga parties and crazy pranks. They would come up with elaborate schemes to sneak booze into their fraternity house. Pence wasn’t a big partier but he would volunteer to be on the lookout for campus authorities and would try to smooth things over between the school administration and the fraternity when they got caught.

Pence was an okay student at Hanover. He averaged B’s and had a large social group. In 1978, Pence roadtripped to Kentucky with some of his evangelical friends to a music festival that was supposed to be the Christian version of Woodstock. Pence spent days rocking out to Christian rock and that’s where he says he became a born again Christian and reavowed himself to Jesus.

During his sophomore year, one of their parties started to get loud and crazy and then the fraternity got word that an associate dean was on his way to investigate. Everybody stopped partying to go hide the kegs and plastic cups while Pence went to go meet the dean at the door. Almost as soon as Pence opened the door for the dean, he blurted out that the fraternity had kegs and led the dean straight to them. Pence wasn’t very popular with his Greek brothers after that, but the college admired him for snarking on his fraternity and offered him an admissions counselor job once he graduated.

Mike was still involved with the democratic party while at Hanover and voted for Jimmy Carter for President in 1980, but his political views began to shift. He had seen the 1980 presidential election between Carter and Reagan as a contest between a “good Christian” and a “vacuous movie star.” However, once Reagan won the presidency he started to win over Pence as well. Pence liked Regan’s common sense conservatism and broad shouldered leadership.

After college, Mike couldn’t decide what career path he wanted to take. He had thoughts of pursuing catholic priesthood, but ultimately decided to attend Indiana University’s Robert H. McKinney’s School of Law. Mike didn’t enjoy law school saying “No one I know likes law school. It was a bad experience, I wouldn’t wish it on a dog I didn’t like.” Pence began to draw a comic series he called “Law School Daze” for the law school’s paper, Dictum. I’ve seen a couple, their not great but I guess that’s why he became a politician instead a comic strip author. Maybe it’s also because I’m not in law school, here are a few Jeremy for you to look at.

While attending law school, he would go to mass at St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Indianapolis. He started

talking to the choir guitar player, Karen Batten, in the parking lot after church and they hit it off. Mike and Karen talked about her job as a shop teacher at a local school and then they discovered that Mike was actually going to the same law school as Karen’s sister. After their first visit at the church, Mike went to his law school’s registrar to get her number so he could talk to her about Karen. The registrar at first refused, but Mike kept asking so she finally gave in and gave Mike the number. Which, that registrar person should have been fired. Mike called Karen’s sister’s number, but it was actually Karen that answered the phone. She was babysitting her niece and nephew at her sister’s house. Mike got super nervous when he realized he was talking to Karen and hung up on her. He then got the courage to call again where she invited him over for dinner. After 8 months of dating, Karen bought a gold cross with the word “Yes” engraved on it. She kept the necklace in her purse until he proposed. Karen gave Mike the gold cross after he proposed a month later. He doesn’t wear it. Karen says it’s because he’s afraid he’s going to lose it. Sure Karen. On June 8, 1985 Mike and Karen got married at St. Christopher’s Roman Catholic Church in Speedway, Indiana. The registrar who gave a weird guy some unsuspecting girl’s phone number was in attendance. unveiling of Vice President Mike Pence’s portrait in Indiana on Friday was live-streamed to the American people via the White House website. But for anyone tuning in, imagination was key.

The event, which transpired with great fanfare, was broadcast as audio-only. That’s right. An official portrait unveiling was broadcast live, with audio and no visuals. The casual listener could be forgiven for assuming the White House was sending a clear message — Pence has a face for radio.


“Mike Pence: Everything You Need to Know” by Ines De La Cuetara and Chris Good

“Trump’s VP: 11 Things to Know About Mike Pence” by the Indy Star

“God’s Plan for Mike Pence” by McKay Coppins

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