onald Trump’s more tepid supporters like to think of his running mate, Mike Pence, as the adult on this year’s Republican ticket, one who offers the previously ideologically wishy-washy Republican nominee rock-ribbed conservative credentials to boot. “What we have here is a really good leader, a good conservative, a knowledgeable conservative, a real Reagan-like happy warrior joining this ticket,” Speaker of the House Paul Ryan glowed after Pence was picked in July. The Indiana governor may be a true conservative, but Pence is hardly the picture of a mainstream Reagan-esque “happy warrior” that his supporters would like to claim. Indeed, throughout his long and strange career, Pence has displayed a willingness to uncritically adopt the kookiest, angriest, most deranged positions of the far-right wing of his party. A brief overview of his political history demonstrates this pattern of unhinged extremism—and suggests that his debate performance on Tuesday night will veer between dull obfuscation and awkward evasion of an extremist policy background that he is too craven to openly defend.
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