SEVERE WX : Freeze Warning View Alerts

Mike Pence's plan to outlast Trump

Now familiar as a smiling, nodding presence at the President's side, Mike Pence was little known outside of his home state of Indiana when Donald Trump selected him as his running mate in 2016.

Posted: Aug 29, 2018 6:54 AM

(CNN) -- Now familiar as a smiling, nodding presence at the President's side, Mike Pence was little known outside of his home state of Indiana when Donald Trump selected him as his running mate in 2016. A bit more than two years later, as he crisscrosses America to campaign for Republicans in the midterm elections, Pence is setting himself up to replace his boss if Trump leaves office early or does not seek re-election.

"Mike will be ready" is the line Pence's aides and allies use as they contemplate his place in a post-Trump world.

Pence would never admit this. He plays the part of unctuous toady so fully that the conservative writer George Will called him "America's most repulsive public figure." But don't be fooled. The vice president is doggedly pursuing his own ambitions on the side. The Oval Office has been his goal since high school. He has seeded the federal government with his loyalists and is building his own nationwide political organization.

He is acting, in fact, as if he is on a mission from God. Some may laugh, but many conservative Christians believe that God is merely using Trump to prepare the way for a so-called true man of faith. Pence's rise to power would affirm the "Cyrus prophecy," which became a popular notion among Christian right circles when Pence joined the 2016 ticket.

Cyrus was a Persian king whom the Old Testament credits with returning the Jews to Jerusalem. He was a pagan who nevertheless served God. Right-wing evangelists such as Lance Wallnau cited that tale in 2016 when they declared that Trump -- a profane and sinful man -- could nevertheless do God's work and was thus worthy of conservative Christian votes. An estimated 80% of white evangelicals gave Trump their votes.

The story of Cyrus resonates with many right-wing Christians because they imagine themselves to be persecuted like the Jews of old. Despite their vast wealth, power and numbers, these believers cite developments such as same-sex marriage and the use of ecumenical phrases such as "happy holidays," instead of Merry Christmas, as evidence they are a minority under siege. They imagine themselves to be victims of a culture war and feel that something must be done to defend an old order that they once dominated.

As a radio host, member of Congress and then governor of Indiana, Pence made himself the most successful conservative Christian politician of his generation. Indeed he says he is "a Christian, a conservative and a Republican in that order."

During 12 years in Congress he never authored a single bill, but he did become a prominent advocate for banning abortion, defunding Planned Parenthood and restricting marriage only to heterosexual couples. In his one term as governor he overstepped when he signed a bill -- the so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act -- permitting discrimination against gay people, and was forced to seek a change in the law.

His rhetoric attacking abortion rights, adultery and even evolution (he says he doesn't believe in it) assured the Christian right that he was one of them.

When Trump offered Pence his spot on the ticket, the Republican Party's evangelical wing was over the moon. Pence was also a first-term governor facing a tough battle for re-election despite a longstanding and substantial GOP advantage in voter registration. His outspoken support for the Religious Freedom Restoration Act had alienated some centrist Republicans and, though Pence was genial enough, he was not the kind of campaigner who got folks fired up.

Offered a path out of struggling obscurity in Indiana, Pence didn't need a Bible prophecy to tell him it was OK to take the leap. He hitched his pious ambitions to a crude, thrice-divorced, self-confessed sexual predator whose grasp of faith and Scripture appears nonexistent.

Pence's favorite Bible verse reads: "For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." He cites it when he discusses the opportunities that come his way, and to explain the confidence he brings to politics.

Pence's theology says that God selects in advance which individuals will become believers and rewards their faith regardless of what they do. This belief allows for all sorts of bad behavior, if it can be framed as supporting the ultimate goal of promoting the evangelical agenda.

Pence's loyalty to the President, even after the "Access Hollywood" tape exposed Trump as a serial sexual harasser, baffled many. It was reported at the time that Pence considered trying to replace Trump at the top of the ticket, but in the end he held his place and his tongue. Pence's religion explains that choice, and his decision to abandon many of his previous positions on the issues, such as his opposition to banning Muslim visitors to America.

To understand how a seemingly pious politician such as Pence could join Trump and stick with him requires tracing the long path of his ambition. Pence wasn't always the rigidly moralistic and confident conservative evangelical he professes to be today. But he was, from the beginning of his adult life, a man who thought he was destined for the presidency.

Terre Haute
Cloudy
33° wxIcon
Hi: 51° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 27°
Robinson
Mostly Cloudy
32° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 25°
Indianapolis/Eagle Creek
Cloudy
28° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 19°
Paris
Cloudy
32° wxIcon
Hi: 50° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 32°
Mattoon/Charleston
Cloudy
33° wxIcon
Hi: 44° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 33°
Terre Haute
Cloudy
34° wxIcon
Hi: 51° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 29°
Terre Haute
Cloudy
34° wxIcon
Hi: 45° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 29°
Snow, Freezing Temps
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

Latest Video

Image

Meet the 'Black and White Guy,' a local artist that gained national...and international attention

Image

Overnight: Snow, with some acculumation. Low: 29°

Image

Tuesday: Temperatures drop, rain moves in. High: 47

Image

CCTV shows the moment a railroad worker snatched a child from the path of a train

Image

Monday: Mostly sunny, warm. High: 67

Image

Sunday Evening Forecast

Image

weather explainer

Image

mural painting

Image

house fire contained

Image

sullivan co drug arrest

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Cases: 1304111

Reported Deaths: 23976
CountyCasesDeaths
Cook5225529835
DuPage865471253
Will71908965
Lake64628965
Kane55689753
Winnebago31173459
Madison29860514
St. Clair27165503
McHenry27059278
Peoria21319283
Champaign19785137
Sangamon17788230
McLean16948169
Tazewell15966256
Rock Island14277303
Kankakee13523196
Kendall1234890
LaSalle11786232
Macon10243190
DeKalb9314118
Vermilion9071127
Adams8195117
Williamson7212126
Whiteside6866163
Boone639571
Ogle576378
Clinton570390
Grundy561271
Coles553094
Knox5320137
Jackson485663
Henry471663
Effingham468071
Livingston459683
Macoupin459681
Stephenson452880
Marion4409115
Woodford440662
Franklin433370
Monroe431290
Jefferson4158119
Randolph409284
Lee397051
Morgan376479
Logan364256
Montgomery364273
Fulton363250
Bureau353881
Christian351472
Fayette313654
Perry312959
Iroquois290764
Jersey262749
McDonough259843
Douglas254635
Saline250553
Lawrence239125
Shelby224737
Union222940
Crawford208925
Bond197524
Cass194824
Pike176851
Jo Daviess176524
Clark176132
Warren173846
Wayne173151
Hancock172730
Carroll171336
Richland171340
Ford170146
Edgar166639
White166426
Washington162725
Moultrie157126
Clay147343
Greene142432
Mason141942
Piatt141714
Johnson139214
De Witt139023
Mercer135433
Wabash134112
Massac131139
Cumberland128119
Menard118712
Jasper114317
Marshall99117
Hamilton82215
Schuyler7005
Brown6886
Pulaski6807
Stark61023
Edwards55412
Henderson52114
Calhoun5092
Scott4671
Alexander46211
Gallatin4534
Putnam4473
Hardin36612
Pope3063
Out of IL20
Unassigned02291

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Cases: 708779

Reported Deaths: 13226
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion966191721
Lake51761946
Allen39224672
Hamilton34549405
St. Joseph34157541
Elkhart27356432
Vanderburgh22081394
Tippecanoe21853212
Porter17935299
Johnson17544374
Hendricks16822310
Clark12697190
Madison12353337
Vigo12219244
Monroe11469166
LaPorte11162204
Delaware10366184
Howard9664211
Kosciusko9134114
Hancock7990139
Bartholomew7893155
Warrick7691155
Floyd7563176
Wayne6906198
Grant6844171
Boone6556100
Morgan6405138
Dubois6085117
Marshall5786108
Dearborn570376
Cass5685102
Henry5579101
Noble542683
Jackson493569
Shelby479495
Lawrence4342118
Gibson429089
Harrison428570
Clinton419753
Montgomery418086
DeKalb411184
Whitley380239
Huntington379880
Miami372865
Knox366689
Steuben365757
Putnam353160
Jasper350946
Wabash347878
Adams338052
Ripley334668
Jefferson313180
White308454
Daviess289499
Wells286481
Decatur279092
Fayette277262
Greene270785
Posey268833
Scott261153
LaGrange253670
Clay253544
Randolph235680
Washington231031
Spencer228031
Jennings225047
Fountain208845
Sullivan207942
Starke204752
Owen192356
Fulton192039
Jay186429
Carroll185920
Perry180736
Orange177853
Rush170724
Vermillion166043
Franklin165635
Tipton161043
Parke144616
Blackford133831
Pike130334
Pulaski113845
Newton104234
Brown100140
Crawford97614
Benton97113
Martin82915
Warren79715
Switzerland7698
Union69910
Ohio55811
Unassigned0408