WASHINGTON – Donald Trump’s unexpected 2016 victory was a bit awkward for his running mate’s political future and for his homelife, according to a new book about the vice president.
Instead of getting to run himself for the GOP nomination in 2020, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence would have to spend the next four years cleaning up after Trump, journalist Tom LoBianco writes in his book “Piety & Power: Mike Pence and the Taking of the White House” that publishes this month.
And then there was his angry wife.
Karen Pence had twice rebuffed her husband’s celebratory kiss on election night before exploding, during a briefing the next day with Secret Service agents, over concerns about how the financially-strapped couple would pay for their new life.
“What are we going to do Mike?? We don’t have any money! Who’s going to pay for my inaugural gown??” LoBianco quotes Karen Pence as saying.
Pence's office declined to comment about the book.
Trump ended up arranging for the inaugural committee to cover some updates to the vice presidential residence and to buy Karen Pence two ball gowns – an original and the cost of altering that dress into one she liked better, according to the book.
The Pences may not have needed the financial help if the couple, years before, hadn’t lost nearly $1 million Pence had inherited from his father. He invested in a pair of privately held companies which failed, according to LoBianco. Pence, whom the author describes as being in awe of those who make money, later lost close to $700,000 more in stock he’d held in the family’s gas station and convenience store business, which went bankrupt in 2001.
Those are some of the many details that LoBianco includes in the latest book that tries to answer the question of who is Mike Pence – and why the devout Christian has entwined himself with Trump.
LoBianco describes Pence as indecisive, but great at executing others' decisions. A "pleaser," Pence is kept on track by his “bulldog” wife and is easily manipulated by staff, according to the book.
Pence shines on the fundraising circuit and is skilled at bringing together disparate personalities with his genial attitude and self-effacing humor, he writes. But LoBianco describes Pence as governing like an “amateur” in Indiana. And he says that the inability of Pence, a former six-term congressman, to deliver the votes to repeal Obamacare drove a wedge between him and Trump.
LoBianco writes that the common thread in the disparate descriptions others have given of the vice president — a Svengali pulling Trump’s strings, or a glorified coatrack — is Pence’s “hidden nature.”
Still, he concludes that Pence is in the White House, serving someone like Trump, because “in the end, ambition and the hunger for power outweighed anything else.”