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US elections 2016

Mike Pence: The man at Donald Trump's side

Mike Pence makes up for the political experience Donald Trump lacks. He could help reunite a divided Republican Party.

Vice President-elect Mike Pence has been described in the media as prudent, quiet, loyal, deliberate, cautious, deft and eloquent. He has characterized himself as a "Christian, conservative and Republican - in that order."

Donald Trump picked Pence to be his running mate in mid-July. It was seen as a strategic bridge to conservatives that Trump couldn't build on his own. Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan, for example, spoke out against Trump's sexism, but he has called himself a "big fan" of Pence.

Trump and Pence also at odds

Trump wanted a vice president who could help sell his ideas in Congress. Pence maintains extensive contacts there thanks to a decade serving in the House of Representatives.

The two don't see eye-to-eye on everything: The 57-year-old Pence has called Russia's political system "corrupt," while Trump has repeatedly heaped praise on President Vladimir Putin. Pence is also a strong proponent of free trade, which Trump opposes. Pence dismissed Trump's calls to block Muslims from entering the United States.

The evangelical Christian comes from a middle-class upbringing in Columbus, Indiana. He studied law and worked as a lawyer and conservative radio commentator before joining Congress in 2001 and going onto become governor of Indiana.

Anti-abortion and LGBT rights

Pence is strongly conservative. He opposes same-sex marriage and abortion. In 2000, he called on Congress to make funds available for centers to help people change their sexual orientation. As governor, he signed into law the strictest abortion regulations in the US.

US Wahl Mike Pence Vizepräsident in Newton (Reuter/S. Morgan)

Before joining the Trump ticket, Pence was seeking another term as governor of Indiana

In 2015, Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, allowing religious belief to serve as a legal factor in business dealings and decisions. The law was heavily criticized for targeting LGBT people, as an individual or business could deny them service simply because of their sexual orientation. Pence altered the plan under intense pressure, seriously angering his social conservative allies.

The beginning of October saw Pence winning the single vice presidential debate against his democratic opponent, Tim Kaine. Viewers found him to strike a prudent and presidential tone. At the time of the debate, 57 percent of respondents to a CBS News poll said they didn't know enough about Pence to have an opinion of him.

Veep a heartbeat away

The vice president's chief official responsibility is to assume the presidency should the sitting office-holder die or for any other reason be unable to serve out the four-year term. This has been the case for nine of America's 44 presidents. The vice president is also president of the US Senate, who votes only in the case of a tie among the legislative body's 100 senators.

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