Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Opinion

April 28, 2014

MAUREEN HAYDEN: Likability is Gov. Pence’s main strength

On a shelf in the home office of Gov. Mike Pence are some cowboy spurs and an old pair of riding boots — signs of how the first-term executive and his family relax in their spare time.

Last summer, one of Pence’s daughters cleaned stalls in a horse barn at a state park, performing a humbling but needed public service.

Pence is a rider of motorcycles, too, evidenced by the helmet that also rests on a shelf in his office at the official Governor’s Residence, a lovely 1928 Tudor-style house that he and first lady Karen Pence routinely open for public tours.

Also on those office shelves: Rows and rows of books, including spy thrillers by novelist Tom Clancy and Lewis Lehrman’s “Lincoln at Peoria,” a scholarly look at a lesser-known Lincoln speech that marked the then-candidate’s re-entry into national politics.

Since taking office early last year, Pence has been criticized by the media as too scripted. His reliance on talking points frustrates a Statehouse press corps demanding deeper answers. More than one verbal skirmish has broken out in his Statehouse office.

But his strength — one that may feed the talk of his higher political ambitions — remains his personal likability.

It was evident when he and his wife invited the noisy group of Statehouse reporters to the Governor’s Residence for an informal reception last week.

Relaxed in shirtsleeves, he accompanied us as we peeked into the formal kitchen’s cupboards, surveyed his office shelves, sipped soft drinks on the patio, and enjoyed a spirited tour led by the residence’s official butler, Dexter Powell, who’s served seven first families.

I’d visited the residence before, but it was the first visit to the home for many in our group. For the eight years when Pence’s predecessor was in office, the house wasn’t a home. Gov. Mitch Daniels and his wife never moved in, preferring their private residence instead.

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Poll

Three Goshen elementary schools — Chandler, Chamberlain and West Goshen — are providing free meals to all students during the school year as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Eligibility Provision of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Nearly 80 percent of students at Chandler, 89 percent of students at Chamberlain and 78 percent of students at West Goshen already qualify for free or reduced-price lunches based on their family income. How do you feel about the new lunch program?

I think it’s a good idea to feed all the students free of charge
I think those who can afford it should pay for their school meals
I think all students should be required to pay for their school meals
     View Results