Mike Pence Wrote An Apology Essay In 1991

by Bronwyn Isaac

The first and only vice presidential debate of the 2016 election cycle provides a significant opportunity for both VP candidates to champion themselves and their presidential running mates. Interestingly enough, Donald Trump's vice presidential running mate Indiana Gov. Mike Pence wrote an essay against negative campaigning. There's a certain irony to that, considering the man at the top of his ticket. According to a report from The New York Times, Trump's presidential campaigning has included over 258 insults on Twitter alone. Given the undeniably negative campaigning techniques of the Trump campaign, it's natural to wonder, will the VP debate force Pence to revisit the essay, titled "Confessions Of A Negative Campaigner," which he wrote over 20 years ago?

The essay itself was penned in 1991, a year after Pence ran for Congress and lost against his Democratic opponent, Phil Sharp. During the course of his campaign, Pence received criticism from Arab-American groups for a controversial ad that featured a stereotype of a Middle Eastern man thanking Sharp for U.S. dependence on foreign oil, according to reports from Buzzfeed. Later, when he wrote "Confessions of a Negative Campaigner," which was re-published online by the reporter Craig Fehrman, Pence expressed regret for using negative campaigning tactics and perpetuating stereotypes, and went so far as to propose three propositions for successful campaigns, including:

First, a campaign ought to demonstrate the basic human decency of the candidate. That means your First Amendment rights end at the tip of your opponent’s nose — even in the matter of political rhetoric.

This came from the man running alongside Trump, who consistently calls his opponent "Crooked Hillary."

At another point in the essay Pence emphasized that campaigning should always prioritize policy above a candidate's election into office:

A campaign ought to be about the advancement of issues whose success or failure is more significant than that of the candidate. Whether on the left or the right, candidates ought to leave a legacy — a foundation of arguments — in favor of policies upon which their successors can build.

If confronted with the stark contrast between these past sentiments and the fact that Trump once defended the size of his penis during a Republican presidential debate, how will Pence defend the campaign he's invested himself in?

As the vice presidential debate, which takes place at Longwood University in Farmville, gives both opponents a platform to challenge each other's politics, it only makes sense that Tim Kaine would challenge this hypocrisy.