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Fact-checking Mike Pence, Donald Trump's VP pick
By Neelesh Moorthy July 14, 2016

Donald Trump officially chose Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his vice presidential pick Friday, announcing the news on Twitter

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich or New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie were also on the shortlist.

The speculation around a Trump-Pence ticket accelerated when Trump was invited to the governor’s residence in addition to hosting a joint rally in Indiana. Unlike Christie and Gingrich, Pence is not slated to speak at the Republican National Convention, further fueling reports he will be Trump’s running mate.

"We’re ready to put a fighter, a builder, and a patriot in the Oval Office of the United States of America," Pence said at the July 12 Indiana rally. "We’re ready for Donald Trump to be our next president."

Trump has been coy publically with his support for Pence.

"How's your governor doing by the way? Good? Huh? I think so," Trump said at the Indiana rally.

Pence served in the House of Representatives between 2001 and 2013, at which point he became Indiana’s governor. On July 14, the day before Trump’s official announcement, Pence dropped his re-election bid in Indiana.

We’ve rated statements by Pence fewer times than Gingrich (73 claims) and Christie (100 claims). Of Pence’s 14 statements on the Truth-O-Meter, eight were rated Mostly False or False. (No Pants on Fires.)

Here’s an overview.

Joining the ticket

Pence was not always solidly in the Trump camp. In April, he endorsed Texas Sen. Ted Cruz for the Republican nomination. He eventually switched to Trump in May once Cruz dropped out.

On some issues, Pence has been critical of Trump. He has called plans to ban Muslims from entering the country unconstitutional and said comments Trump made towards Indiana-born judge Gonzalo Curiel were inappropriate.

The two don’t always see eye-to-eye on policy either. For example, Pence has expressed support for free-trade agreements, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership, that Trump has deplored.

Pence also supported the Iraq War, while one of Trump’s key talking points is that he always opposed the war (which is False, by the way).

Religious freedom

One of the most controversial pieces of legislation resurfaced during the veepstakes has been Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which Pence signed into law March 2015.

The law was designed to prevent the government from burdening people’s right to exercise their religion, but it came under fire from many LGBT groups who said it discriminates against them. For example, some have claimed it could be used by businesses refusing to provides services for a gay marriage celebration.

Several states and cities, such as Connecticut, Washington and San Francisco limited travel funding to Indiana in response, as well as some companies, including Yelp and Salesforce.

Pence has defended the law, saying it had nothing to do with discrimination.

All of this leads us to a claim Pence made in a March 29, 2015, interview, where he claimed President Barack Obama had once supported a bill with the same language as a senator in Illinois.

We rated this Half True, noting there were differences between the two laws.

Pence signed an amendment of the law in April 2015 intended to specifically prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

On the attack

Several of the claims we fact-checked from Pence involved attacks against Obama or Democrats in Washington.

As a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Pence criticized the economic stimulus bill in 2009, saying it included "wasteful spending" such as fish passage barriers and ATVs. He correctly cited those provisions of the bill, so we rated his claim True.

A 2010 claim that the Obama administration systematically cut funding for border control, however, came up False. Border security funding (just not border fence funding) has increased.

We rated another Pence claim False that Democrats intended to raise the tax rate on every single income tax bracket. Democrats had actually expressed support for extending tax cuts.

Some other examples include:

  • Pence said a cap-and-trade policy designed to reduce global warming would skyrocket electricity costs, claiming that Obama has acknowledged this. We were able to find Obama’s initial remarks, so we rated Pence’s claim True.

  • Another tax claim — Pence said raising tax rates typically leads to less government revenue. We said this was False, after looking at Internal Revenue Service data.

  • Pence also claimed the Dodd-Frank bill, designed to regulate Wall Street, would kill jobs. We rated this Mostly False, because, while some jobs would be lost, more were supposed to be saved by the bill’s passage.

Despite their differences, Republicans have said Pence could be an ideal complement to Trump.

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Fact-checking Mike Pence, Donald Trump's VP pick