Mike Pence won in Indiana, but it wasn’t the way he expected to a year ago.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump easily won Indiana’s 11 electoral votes Tuesday night in the presidential race over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The Indiana governor, who was named Trump’s vice presidential pick July 15, started off this campaign season gearing up for a competitive reelection campaign. But Trump plucked him from relative obscurity after the mogul’s family members reportedly sold him on Pence’s demeanor and qualifications.
The race has reinvigorated questions about Pence’s political future, with some suggesting he could run for president in 2020 and bridge the gap between “establishment” Republicans and Trump supporters, who have been at odds for much of the campaign.
Throughout the campaign, Pence has worked to smooth over policy disagreements between himself and Trump, including their diagreements about free trade. Once a fervent supporter of free trade deals, Pence now says he “questions the wisdom” of the deals.
But he also has been dispatched to clean up or clarify some of Trump’s more controversial statements.
In response to Trump’s claims that the election is rigged, Pence said on NBC’s Meet the Press that Trump “absolutely will accept the result of the election.” However, at the following week’s debate, Trump said he wouldn’t tell the American people whether he would accept the results, saying he would keep them “in suspense.”
When Trump was dogged by criticism of his treatment toward women after release of an Access Hollywood hot mike tape from 2005—on which he said that stars can “do anything” to women, including grabbing their genitals—Pence stood by him, saying that Trump was just engaging in “locker room talk.”
Pence mostly steered clear of creating or stepping into his own controversies on the campaign trail, but he was mocked online after the vice presidential debate for saying his opponent, Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine, “whipped out that Mexican thing again” after Kaine criticized Trump’s treatment of Hispanics.
Pence’s journey to becoming the vice presidential nominee placed Indiana at the center of the political world.
Pence endorsed U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz in the Republican presidential primary, but he had kind words for Trump—which Trump noticed.
"I particularly want to commend Donald Trump, who I think has given voice to the frustration of millions of working Americans with a lack of progress in Washington D.C.," Pence said on a radio show.
“It was the single greatest non-endorsement I’ve ever had in my life, I will tell you,” Trump said in July after choosing Pence.
But choosing Pence wasn’t Trump’s first choice; rather, he was convinced by his former campaign manager Paul Manafort and by his family members that the soft-spoken, conservative would be a good choice.
News outlets later reported that Trump first offered New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie the vice presidential job, but “Trump reneged on the deal after others in his inner circle convinced him otherwise,” according to a story from CBS News.
Since being chosen, Pence has returned to Indiana a few times, in part to campaign for down-ballot Republicans, including in late October when he showed up at a GOP event for Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb, Todd Young and Trey Hollingsworth.