Being the daughter of Vice-President Mike Pence can’t be easy. In the last several years, Charlotte Pence has heard a lot of hateful things leveled at her dad — much of it false or based in misunderstanding. But you wouldn’t know that from meeting her. Charlotte, who recently published a book about her life growing up with the Vice-President, is clearly as level-headed and welcoming of criticism as her Dad.
In an interview on my podcast, “Worth Your Time“, she said she recognizes that protests and criticism are simply part of living a public life in such a visible, political position.
Unlike his boss, President Donald Trump, Mike Pence isn’t known for swiping back at critics on Twitter. In fact, there’s no evidence of him uttering a negative word against anyone. He appears to take things in stride, exemplified in his response to protests against him or policies he supports: “That’s what freedom sounds like.”
Still, I was curious how Charlotte handled some of the criticism thrown at her Dad.
“Watching my dad treat others with kindness and grace even when they aren’t treating him that way has been really influential to me,” she said.
That influence plays out visibly in her own life. When she and her mom, Second Lady Karen Pence, published a children’s book, “Marlon Bundo’s Day in the Life of the Vice-President,” comedian and talk show host John Oliver quickly pounced on it as an opportunity to slam the Vice-President. Oliver published a rival book about a “boy bunny who falls in love with another boy bunny.” The book was an obvious knock at Mike Pence’s stance on LGBT issues, but Charlotte took it in stride, saying in an interview on “The View,” that she supported Oliver’s book (and bought a copy!) because proceeds went to charity, just as proceeds from her book did.
While Charlotte is clearly a conservative who supported her Dad in 2016, she is gracious when it comes to folks on the other side of the aisle. In her book, she writes about a conversation she had with Hillary Clinton on Inauguration Day in 2017 — “a weird day” for Clinton no doubt. Despite Clinton losing the race to Trump-Pence, Charlotte was eager to meet her and was welcomed in doing so.
“She took time to talk to us and talk to us about what we were doing, talking about school and what I studied,” said Charlotte. “It was very meaningful to me to see that…at the end of the day, people are just people and she definitely understands what it’s like to have a kid in politics and raise a family [that way].”
Since her Dad became Vice-President, Charlotte’s name ID has certainly gone up, but she’s been able to make her way professionally as a writer and overcome assumptions people hold about her, by being kind and generous as an individual. In fact, the experience of political life has empowered her to meet more people who don’t think exactly as she does. In her book, she writes:
“Let’s go out with gusto, ready to take on the world, encounter people who disagree with us and think differently. Let’s acknowledge we are all different, that we have ben raised in varying ways, and let’s actively seek out those who make incorrect assumptions about us.”
Rather than getting caught up in the ugliness of politics, she’s embraced the new people and ideas it’s brought into her life — and her message of graciousness is a real light in the partisan darkness.
Listen to the full episode here.