Q&A with Charlotte Pence, daughter of GOP VP nominee

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GOP vice presidential nominee Mike Pence with his daughter Charlotte following her graduation from DePaul in June. (Photo courtesy of Charlotte Pence)

Indiana Governor and GOP vice presidential candidate Mike Pence has another title that most are likely not aware of: proud DePaul parent. Indeed, Pence’s daughter, Charlotte, just graduated from the university in June.

For the past few weeks, Charlotte Pence has been traveling with her parents around the country as they campaign on behalf of Donald Trump’s presidential bid. This included a trip to the Republican National Convention, where the DePaul alum shared the stage with her parents and the Trumps on the final night of the event.

Pence, while having been contacted by several news organizations following her dad’s selection as Trump’s running mate, agreed to be interviewed first by the DePaulia, her college newspaper (for which she happened to write a column while studying abroad in Oxford, England last year).

While not wishing to discuss the policies of her father and Mr. Trump (she doesn’t always agree, something her parents in fact encourage) or intimate details about her family life, Pence offered a glimpse into her perspective having grown up in a political family, her time at DePaul and now traveling with her parents around the country. Here is that interview slightly modified for space:

The DePaulia: These past few months must have been crazy for you — graduating from college, your dad gets selected as Donald Trump’s running mate — how’s has it been?

Charlotte Pence: It happened really fast. I just graduated and I was actually working at a summer camp in Indianapolis, and then this kind of all happened. I was in a good position where I could travel with my parents for a few weeks or months or whatever. It ended up being just to kind of support them. It’s been interesting, honestly. I think we have a lot of peace about it. It’s a transition, for sure, but we’re really humbled and excited to be able to as a family kind of go into this altogether.

DP: When your dad first heard of this opportunity to be vice president, was it a family decision? Did you guys talk about it quite a bit?

CP: We did a little bit. I think the big thing was my parents definitely make decisions as a team and it’s always been a family thing. We talk about everything together. But I think a big part of it was that we’re in this position where I can be as involved as I want to be or not involved at all. And that’s how it’s always been for us kids. Ever since we were really little, (they’d say) ‘you can go to everything you want to go to campaigning or you don’t have to go to anything at all.’ We could really do our own thing.

So we definitely talked about it, we prayed about it a lot, honestly. Then when the decision came, my dad answered and we’re totally on board.

DP: For most of your life, your dad was in some sort of elected office, whether it be congressman and now Governor of Indiana. Not a lot people can say that. What was it like?

CP: Honestly, it’s funny because I tell people … it’s just my dad’s job. I mean I feel like people are sometimes surprised when they know me and then they find out who my parents are. And they say, ‘why didn’t you mention that before?’ (laughing). And I’m just like, I don’t think it’s a big deal. I think that’s just what his career is. We grew up right outside of D.C. in Arlington, Virginia. So when my dad was in Congress from 2000-2012, it was really awesome because he was home for dinner like almost every night. It was very normal. It was like, ‘he goes to work, he comes home,’ and obviously, there’s some late votes in there, but for the most part, it was really normal. I know that sounds weird, but it just is. Our family unit is so close.

DP: From observing your father during his convention speech, it did seem like many people got the vibe that he’s a family guy.

CP: I think what you see with my dad is what you get. Our family is very, very close. That’s kind of been essential growing up in the political realm. I think that you kind of need that support system and I say we definitely have that while also as kids, and my mom too, just kind of being able to do our own thing, follow our own dreams as well.

DP: You went to DePaul. What led to that and how was your experience?

CP: I love DePaul. I ended up going there for the film school in the College of Computing and Digital Media. My mom was actually the one who introduced me to DePaul at first because she wanted me to go to a school closer to home in Indiana, and so, I kind of looked into it and ended up going there. I love the film program, it’s really up-and-coming. I think in the last four or five years, it’s really grown.

But also, I think a big part of why I love DePaul so much is because you could do other things. Like I was really involved in film, but then I was also a double-major in digital cinema and English. So I was able to kind of get involved in things that were not just specific to my major or my chosen career field. And I think that it’s such more well-rounded. I think DePaul really fosters that in people. I was involved with university ministry; I went on one of their service trips last year to Columbia, I joined a group last year called Peacemakers there, where we went into public high schools in Chicago once a week and talked to student about peace and justice. I was involved with the creative writing community and the film community obviously with the Digital Cinema Collaborative. I was also in a sorority, Chi Omega. I definitely think DePaul encourages you to get involved in a lot of things rather than just being involved in one thing. I also had a column in the DePaulia, which was super fun when I was studying abroad. I have nothing but good things to say about DePaul and Chicago.

DP: DePaul is fairly left-leaning. Were you ever recognized based on your family ties and did you ever face any backlash?

CP: Honestly, no, I really didn’t. I would say that most of my friends are not very political or if they are, they’re very liberal. I think DePaul specifically, especially even with teachers, a lot of my teachers and mentors, I didn’t know if they knew who I was or who my dad was, but then, they would kind of find out, but they never treated me any differently because of it. Even though I knew a lot of them had different political views than my dad had. I really feel that all the people that was involved with across the board, in Greek life, in university ministry, in the film programs, I really feel like everyone was very interested and encouraging.

They encouraged me to be my own person and I think they saw me as my own person as well. I honestly can’t think of a specific instance where I felt unwelcome at DePaul, I always felt very welcome. It was a place and continues to be a place where lots of ideas are discussed and talked about and I would hope that for DePaul, definitely.

DP: Would you consider yourself a political person?

CP: I think it’s kind of funny who I am, my personality, (to) be in a political family. Because I’ve never been extremely interested in politics. The fact that I’m interested in it does have a lot to do with my family being involved with it. I’m not really a political person. I think I have views that go across the board, I’d say that I’m more of a moderate or independent than really have specific-aligned views. And I think that’s something that’s really been encouraged by my parents since I was really little. I mean, just to have your own opinions about things and your own ideas; and I would say that my friends who aren’t really politically-involved, I think they would say the same things about themselves. You can be interested in politics and not specifically align with certain political views.

I’m not extremely interested in going into politics in the future, but my interest definitely falls into a more moderate, general view.

DP: You were at the RNC in Cleveland a few weeks ago on stage with your parents and the Trumps. What was that whole week like?

CP: The convention was really fun. Everyone there was really pumped up and excited. All the Republican delegates came from across the United States and territories. It was awesome that everyone was getting together and getting really excited.

Being on stage was a blur. That night my dad spoke I was so, so proud of him. I loved the speech, personally. But I think having to come a week or so after being chosen to give a speech like that, it was such a quick turnaround time so it was definitely a blur. I kept thinking I was going to wake up from a dream because it was so exciting to see my dad give that speech with my whole family. I was really focused on him that night, I was thinking about him and praying for him that he would do his best and I think he did.

DP: If there’s one thing you could tell people about your dad, what would it be?

CP: I would say, honestly, my dad is my hero. He’s a dreamer. He encourages the best in everybody, whether it’s family or staff or people he just meets. I would say he’s extremely excited about this position, he’s very humbled by it, definitely. He’s a happy dreamer — he has such a good, positive attitude all the time. I’m constantly learning from him, especially in this position, but even before that. Just watching him stand up for what’s right and fight for what he believes in and really go after his dreams, has encouraged me to go after my dreams and pursue what I want to do.

I think it’s especially the little decisions that he makes with such careful consideration is essential and an essential part of his personality and character. Behind the scenes, he takes every single decision and every single conversation he has with anybody, whether it’s somebody at a rally or a staff member or me, he takes it very seriously, he takes people very seriously. And he listens to people. He really wants to do the right thing all the time, no matter what the decision is.

DP: You mentioned dreams and goals. What do you hope to do in the future?

CP: I want to go into the creative side of film production, looking at stories and books and scripts and really life stories and taking those to the screen. I did a few internships while I was in college and I started kind of doing some part time work for a company that hasn’t fully launched yet, which I’m really excited about. So I think that’s my ultimate goal.

DP: What will your role be on the campaign trail going going forward?

CP: I’m unsure now as to how many months I’m going to spend on the campaign trail just because of jobs and if I start working full-time before then. But, as if right now, my role is to, as my dad says, babysit my parents for the next few months. My role is to make it fun. It’s way more fun when you’re traveling with your family or friends, and I think that’s my main goal. Just to make it fun. To enjoy it.

I was in a position, luckily, where I didn’t have somewhere I had to be August 1. So, I was in this awesome position where I could travel with them at least for August and take advantage of this opportunity. I told people I couldn’t pass up this opportunity to travel the country and see the country from this perspective. It’s so interesting. I think it can be so fun and so exciting, especially if you have family around you.