Mike Pence worked as a conservative radio and TV host in the 1990s, dubbing himself "Rush Limbaugh on decaf"

By Tierney McAfee
Updated July 11, 2016 07:30 PM
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Michael Conroy/AP

The Indiana Republican emerged as a top choice on Trump’s shortlist in recent days, but unlike fellow contenders New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Pence is a relative unknown in the national political scene.

Get to know Trump’s newly minted running mate better with these five fast facts:

1. Pence Considered Running for President in 2016.
The Indiana governor, who also served in the U.S. House for 12 years, has been floated by supporters as a possible presidential candidate in more than one election, and even considered campaigning for the top job in 2016 before ultimately announcing his decision to run for a second term as governor instead. “Indiana law, in terms of a federal office and a state office, doesn’t permit” running for both a federal and state office position at the same time, he said in February 2015 of his hesitation about running for president.

The same law applies now that Pence has become Trump’s running mate. The Indianapolis Star reported Thursday that Pence is dropping his gubernatorial re-election bid in Indiana to become Trump’s running mate.

2. Pence First Endorsed Ted Cruz for President Before Switching to Trump.
Pence endorsed Cruz ahead of the May 3 Indiana primary before changing his tune just days later after Trump effectively clinched the GOP nomination. Even as he initially said he would be voting for Cruz in the Republican primary, Pence added that he wanted 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.”

3. "Rush Limbaugh on Decaf."
In the 1990s, Pence worked as a conservative radio and TV host in Indiana, hosting the talk radio program The Mike Pence Show as well as a Sunday morning political TV program. He described himself as “Rush Limbaugh on decaf.”

4. A Positive to Trump’s Negative?
Trump has become notorious for firing off insults at his rivals, but Pence is apparently no longer game for those kinds of tactics. After losing campaigns for Congress in 1988 and 1990, he wrote an essay called “Confessions of a Negative Campaigner,” in which he apologized for running negative ads against his opponent, Rep. Phillip Sharp.

5. The Evangelical Vote.
Pence, who has called himself “a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican, in that order,” is beloved by social conservatives and evangelical Christians.

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Despite support from those groups, he faced widespread backlash last year when he signed a controversial “religious freedom” bill that critics argued would make it easier to discriminate against LGBT people. Pence called those concerns a “misunderstanding,” saying at the time, “This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination I would have vetoed it.”

Hoping to quell the nationwide criticism, Pence later signed a revised version barring businesses from denying services to clients based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.