What really caused Mike Pence to swear off negative campaigning

Pence credits his personal turnaround to a phone call with a journalist whose insights into that 1990 campaign clearly struck a chord. Pence had just taken the job as president of the Indiana Policy Review Foundation, a conservative think tank, when a mildly incredulous reporter called to ask him about the new role. “I never really thought of you as a conservative,” the reporter told Pence.

Pence later told the Indianapolis Star that the comment “pierced my heart.”

Pence now describes himself as “a Christian, a conservative and a Republican —in that order.” And at the time, he said, the reporter’s reaction stung because it demonstrated how little of his policy position had come through during his run. He was, he said, a candidate concerned about lowering taxes, higher defense spending and a staunch defense of socially conservative values, but all of that was overshadowed in a race where he and Sharp traded jabs about each other’s ethics…

Pence vowed his negative approach wouldn’t be repeated. Running for office “ought to demonstrate the basic human decency of the candidate. … a campaign ought to be about the advancement of issues whose success or failure is more significant than that of the candidate,” he wrote in his apology, which was published in the Indiana Policy Review.