Pence’s campaign has been defined by his refusal to deploy negative attacks on his opponents. Asked, for example, what he thought about Gregg’s attempt to portray Pence as an extremist (Gregg has called Pence an “elite attack dog” of the Republican far-right), Pence said: “I wouldn’t have an opinion on that.”
It’s not always how Pence has campaigned. In 1990, at the age of 31, he launched a brutal but unsuccessful effort to unseat a longtime incumbent Democratic congressman, Phil Sharp. Pence called it “one of the most divisive and negative campaigns in Indiana’s modern congressional history.” He later wrote about it, in a 1991 essay called “Confessions of a Negative Campaigner.”
“It is wrong, quite simply, to squander a candidate’s priceless moment in history, a moment in which he or she could have brought critical issues before the citizenry, on partisan bickering,” Pence wrote.
Pence said his successful 2000 campaign for Congress, and all the campaigns since, had been driven by a different set of rules: “Do unto your opponent as you would have them do unto you.”
Since deciding to run for governor, Pence has raised more than $13 million, twice that of his Democratic opponent. That comes from another one of his rules: “Campaigns,” he said, “need to be about winning.”
• Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for the CNHI newspapers in Indiana. She can be reached at email@example.com.