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The Peninsula

Trump’s Choice of Vice President: Governor Mike Pence of Indiana

Published July 17, 2016
Category: South Korea

By Donald Manzullo

I served in Congress with Mike Pence from 2001 to 2013, including six years together on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.  He represented southeastern Indiana, including the cities of Muncie, Anderson, Richmond, some suburbs of Indianapolis and areas just across the Ohio River from Cincinnati.  We come from similar areas in the Midwest where, like my northwestern Illinois district, there was a concentration of manufacturing industries, along with significant agricultural production.  During his first term in office, I selected him to lead one of my subcommittees on regulatory reform when I chaired the Small Business Committee.

Representative Pence served in several other leadership capacities during my tenure, including chairing the Republican Study Committee and then, the entire Republican Conference, the third highest leadership position for the GOP in the House.  During the 2012 election cycle, Representative Pence chose not to run for re-election to Congress and, instead competed for the governorship of his home state.  He won the race by over 81,000 votes out of 2.4 million cast.  In January 2013, he became the 50th Governor of the State of Indiana.

But who is Mike Pence and what are his views on international trade and America’s role in the world?

Governor Pence is an interesting choice for businessman Donald Trump for Vice President, putting on one ticket two people who have been on the record expressing different views of America and its place in the world.  In the past, Governor Pence has criticized several of Trump’s past statements, including remarks on “temporarily” barring Muslims from entering the U.S. and the comment by Trump suggesting that because the judge in one of his lawsuits has parents from Mexico, and that, in light of Trump wanting to build a fence on the entire border between the U.S. and Mexico, as well as deport millions of undocumented Mexicans living in the U.S., the judge should be disqualified.

When I served with him on the Foreign Affairs Committee, I noticed that in his statements and examination of witnesses, Representative Pence was always prepared, probative, yet polite.  He eventually became the top Republican on the Middle East and South Asia Subcommittee and endorsed the “surge” in Iraq, supported efforts to depose Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, and continues to be a strong supporter of Israel.  He is not mean-spirited in his dealings with members of either party and is focused on issues, not personalities.

Pence learned a tough lesson during his initial foray into electoral politics when he ran a harsh negative and unsuccessful campaign against an incumbent Member of Congress, which he confessed was wrong[1].  He frequently characterizes himself as a conservative who is not angry about it.  Governor Pence also has a worldview of a globally engaged America, not isolated, in both foreign policy and trade.

Trump and Pence differ on free trade, including Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) and the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).   When KORUS FTA was debated before the U.S. House of Representatives on October 12, 2011, along with two other FTAs, Congressman Mike Pence spoke in favor of the agreements.

Indiana is uniquely poised to take advantage of the free trade opportunities provided in these agreements.  I often say in Indiana we do two things well: we make things and we grow things… [E]xpanding global markets for what we make and for what we grow are going to create jobs in Indiana, in the city and on the farm.

The Korea agreement…will eliminate $1.3 billion in tariffs on U.S. exports that cover many products Indiana is known for, like feed corn, soybeans, and dairy. It will eliminate those duties while other duties on products like pork will be phased out. Other industries, like Indiana’s growing life sciences sector, will benefit.

…I rise in support of these agreements because I believe that trade means jobs. And America and Indiana need jobs like never before.

Was Congressman Pence correct in his prediction that Indiana would benefit from the KORUS-FTA?  According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, Indiana’s exports of merchandise goods to South Korea in 2015 increased by 9 percent since 2011 (pre-KORUS implementation) to $693 million.  The top three Indiana exports to Korea include (in rank order) chemicals (up 21 percent since 2011); transportation equipment (up 26 percent); and primary metal manufacturing (up 102 percent).  In addition, Commerce estimates that Indiana imported $335 million worth of products from Korea in 2015, producing a trade surplus of $358 million for Indiana.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture stated that U.S. agricultural exports to South Korea totaled more than $6 billion in 2015, making this nation America’s sixth-largest market, with top exports including beef, corn, and pork.  U.S. dairy exports to Korea also experienced double-digit growth since KORUS implementation.

Governor Pence also wrote to the Indiana Congressional delegation in support of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement.  Japan is Indiana’s third largest merchandise export destination.  Indiana’s exports of merchandise goods to the entire TPP region (including Japan) have also fared well in recent years, increasing 7 percent since 2011 to $18.78 billion.  Top Indiana exports of goods to TPP countries are (in rank order) transportation equipment, machinery, and chemicals.

If the Trump-Pence team is elected in November to lead America, it is not clear the influence Governor Pence would have on U.S. trade and foreign policy.  However, given Trump’s predilection to “tack” on certain positions, it would be interesting to see how the dynamic shapes up between the two nominees on reaching consensus on various policy issues.   Historically, U.S. vice presidents have been subservient to the president.  Thus, the addition of Governor Pence to the ticket may serve more as to convince skeptical conservatives to fully come on board the “Trump train” than to change Trump’s positions.  Trump’s supporters were able to alter the proposed Republican political platform to include more “America first” positions on trade and foreign policy, making it more problematic for Governor Pence to return the GOP to a more historical, robust Republican international agenda.  This will certainly be an interesting U.S. election year.

Donald Manzullo is President and CEO of Korea Economic Institute and former Member of U.S. Congress (1993-2013). The views expressed here are the author’s alone.

Photo from Darryl Smith’s photostream on flickr Creative Commons.



[1] “Confessions of a Negative Campaigner.” Indiana Policy Review (October 1991), pg. 5-6.

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