But she continued: “He doesn’t always think through the impact of what his positions will be.”
DeLaney cited Pence’s foray into the hornet’s nest over the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RIFRA), which was signed into law by Pence amid national outcry. “That was not only a PR disaster—and permitted discrimination— but he signed it into law as we were having the Final Four here,” Delaney recounted. “The media from all over country was here—it got a tremendous amount of play that wouldn’t have happened otherwise.” Pence, she said was completely caught off guard.
DeLaney does not appear think particularly highly of Pence’s management skills. “He ran the governor’s office 9 to 5,” she said. “That’s hard to do. Crises don’t always occur between 9 to 5. I don’t think you can be an active Vice President and keep to that schedule.”
For Democrats eager to use Pence as a backchannel to either the administration, (in the hopes that he might take their case to the president) or his own party (in the hopes that he might broker some bipartisanship), DeLaney was fairly grim. “He’s pretty firmly an ideologue. He’ll do what he’s told,” she said.
As it pertained to bringing his boss back to reality, Representative Charlie Brown, from Indiana’s 3rd House District, was not optimistic. When Pence was in the governor’s office, said Brown, “he did not want to rock the boat.”
“He doesn’t lay down the law,” added DeLaney. “He’s just not strong enough.”
Brown went further, saying that Pence had a hard time corralling even his own party, back in Indiana.
“He had some tough times with his own caucus in both chambers,” said Brown. “They had a super majority and they wanted to appear to be united.” But, he said, intra-party problems arose, “Mainly because [Pence] put religion first. That whole debacle over RIFRA is what sunk him. They had a tiger by the tail. Those are his beliefs and you can’t take that away from him. It created havoc with business community.”
Still, members of the minority party might at least expect a less confrontational tone from the veep’s office, especially compared to what may be issuing forth from the man in the Oval Office (or his Twitter account). “He will not want confrontation on an individual level, one-on-one,” said DeLaney. “He’ll be much more ‘in sorrow than in anger.’ He’ll wring his hands, say [to democrats], I just can’t bring [the rest of my party] along—so you’re going to have to do this.”
And according to Goodin, Pence’s decisions are usually final: “After he makes a decision, he doesn’t entertain much else.”
Ultimately, said DeLaney, Pence may not be all that constitutionally suited for the hurly burly of the Trump administration—which, if the recent past is any indication, is likely to be a unpredictable and tumultuous ride. “He impresses me as someone who can deliver a message, speak well, hold his own in front of the mic,” she said, “but he’s much more comfortable with problems and solutions on index cards. And some of those problems and solutions don’t fit so well on index cards.”