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article imageTrump's VP Mike Pence: political chops and a deft touch

By Brigitte Dusseau (AFP)     Nov 9, 2016 in Politics

Where Donald Trump is brash and tough-talking, Mike Pence is deft and disciplined.

And as the billionaire and political novice takes the reins at the White House from Barack Obama come January, Pence will bring precious Washington experience to the table as the new vice president.

The 57-year-old governor of Indiana knows his way around the US capital: He held a seat in the House of Representatives from 2001 to 2013 and served as chairman of the House Republican Conference -- the party's third most important position on Capitol Hill -- from 2009 to 2011.

Seen as disciplined and relatively discreet, the Christian conservative is a lawyer by training and former radio talk show host with strong communication skills.

Pence's qualities and connections could help ease tensions with a Republican Party that had a hard time digesting Trump's maverick bid for the White House.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, whose relations with Trump are delicate, says he considers Pence a friend.

On the campaign trail, Pence made a methodical and level-headed case for a Republican administration, reassuring core conservatives nervous about how Trump would govern in the White House.

He became expert at deflecting attacks on Trump, instead redirecting them into critiques of Obama's administration and Hillary Clinton's record as secretary of state.

And he notably outshone his vice presidential rival Tim Kaine during their only debate.

Yet Pence's quiet, low-profile personality, shaped in large part by his Christian faith, poses little threat of overshadowing that of Trump, who values loyalty in the people who work with him.

- Differences of opinion -

US Republican vice president-elect Mike Pence and his wife Karen arrive for a post election party in...
US Republican vice president-elect Mike Pence and his wife Karen arrive for a post election party in New York, on November 8, 2016
Saul Loeb, AFP

Throughout the campaign, Pence was seen as helping Trump boost support among traditional conservatives and especially evangelical Christians wary of Trump, and perhaps even with voters in the Rust Belt -- the former industrial area that includes Indiana, neighboring Ohio and parts of Pennsylvania and Michigan.

Trump and Pence did not know each other particularly well until joining forces.

While they formed an effective duo on the campaign trail, the pair have marked differences of opinion on everything from immigration to trade.

While Trump campaigned on a protectionist platform, Pence adheres to the laissez-faire economic views that are more conventionally Republican. Before joining Trump's team, he publicly backed the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the sweeping trade deal that the candidate repeatedly blasted as bad for US jobs.

He had also denounced Trump's proposal to close US borders to Muslims as "unconstitutional" -- although as running mate, he defended his call for a wall on Mexican border.

Pence did break with Trump over an explosive video that caught the president-elect making lewd remarks about groping women, saying: "I do not condone his remarks and cannot defend them."

Pence is a conservative defender of family values, against abortion and gay marriage, and opposed to the idea of the United States taking in Syrian refugees.

He has described himself as "a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order."

Before joining the Trump ticket, he was facing a tough re-election battle in Indiana where as governor he signed bills making it harder for women to have abortions, making Indiana the second US state to prohibit ending a pregnancy because the fetus suffers abnormalities.

He has also drawn criticism for a law that critics say discriminates against the LGBT community.

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