Vice President Mike Pence is known to rely on his wife Karen for support – the pair, married for 34 years, are inseparable.
Less, however, is known about their three children – all young adults, beginning to forge their paths independently, but who were all present on August 26 for Pence’s address to the Republican National Convention.
“This has always been a family affair for us, from the very first campaign headed out to county fairs,” Pence said several years ago.
“While Karen and I would be shaking hands at the Republican tent, the kids would be standing out in front of the tent, handing out flyers and shaking hands.”
Pence famously sparked fierce debate in Washington when he revealed that he would not dine alone with another woman, and would turn down an invitation to any function where alcohol was served if his wife was not with him.
The 61-year-old vice president met Karen while she was playing guitar at Mass at St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Indianapolis, a Catholic church they both attended. Both later became evangelicals.
“It’s about building a zone around your marriage,” he said in 2002.
Karen, an art teacher, currently has a part-time position at a private Christian school in Springfield, Virginia, that does not allow gay students and requires employees to affirm that marriage should only be between a man and a woman.
She taught at the school, Immanuel Christian School, from 2001 to 2013, while her husband was a congressman, then returned to the job when he became vice president. Their daughter Charlotte graduated from the school, according to its website.
Their eldest child, Michael, 28, is a second lieutenant in the Marines, serving as a pilot.
He attended Purdue University, where he met his wife Sarah – the pair married in December 2016, shortly before Pence became vice president.
“I learned about being a spouse from my daughter-in-law,” Karen Pence said in May 2019.
“She insists that Michael has his responsibilities in the house and she has hers.
“And I tend to say, ‘Oh, you know, the vice president is really busy, I’ll do this for him,’ and — really — it’s better if you don’t.”
The Pences’ middle child, Charlotte, is a frequent presence on the campaign trail.
The 27-year-old studied digital cinema and English at DePaul University, and has worked in documentaries.
With her mother, she wrote a children’s book about their rabbit, Marlon Bundo, showing Pence’s job from the animal’s perspective entitled A Day In The Life Of The Vice President. Comedian John Oliver then produced a wildly popular spoof, A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo, in which the rabbit was gay.
Charlotte in December 2019 married Lt. Henry Bond, who is currently deployed and serving our nation in the United States Navy. The pair were introduced by Michael, who trained with Bond in Mississippi.
In September Charlotte launched her own podcast, Doubting It, which the producers say “explores the issues of faith, culture and doubt, and poses some of the most essential questions about our faith journeys.”
The youngest child of the Pences is Audrey, 25, whose summer wedding to her college boyfriend, Daniel Tomanelli, 24, had to be postponed due to COVID-19.
Audrey graduated in May with a law degree from Yale, and is the most liberal member of the deeply religious, conservative family.
Before attending Yale she studied international relations at Northeastern University, in Boston, and spent extended periods of time in Jordan and Turkey.
In her final year at Northeastern she worked at the Fuller Project for International Reporting to chronicle the “under-represented role of women” in the Middle East.
She describes herself as “politically independent” and “socially liberal” and is a member of the law school’s Title IX Working Group, which “advises on policies and efforts to address campus climate” regarding sexual harassment or sexual assault, and comes up with educational initiatives around sexual harassment and assault.
“Probably the person I get the most respect from is my dad on that,” she told a local TV station in Indiana, WTHR.
“He tells me so many times: ‘I am proud of you for having your own opinions and looking into things’.”