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Mike Pence relying on faith to make impact after exiting presidential race

WASHINGTON − During one of Mike Pence’s commutes home from the Capitol when he served in the U.S. House, he realized he was in an HOV lane.

What’s more, there were police cars up ahead waiting to pounce on solo-drivers like himself.

Pence made it easy for them. He pulled over in front of the squad cars, much to the officers’ confusion.

“Hi, there,” a policeman asked Pence. “Did I pull you over?”

“No, sir,” Pence replied. “I just realized that I was in the wrong lane.”

Pence recounts that story in his latest book, “Go Home For Dinner: Advice on How Faith Makes a Family and Family Makes a Life,” as an example of how small acts of honesty when no one may be watching are good preparations for the big tests.

“You never know when you will be called upon to take a stand, so use the small, seemingly minor occurrences to get ready,” he wrote in the “Practice Integrity” chapter.

The former vice president’s big stand, of course, occurred on Jan. 6, 2021, when he resisted President Donald Trump’s demands that he try to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

Pence wrote extensively about that in his first book, “So Help Me God,” which published last fall as he was gearing up for a presidential bid.

Instead of providing some free media attention for that quest, his new book – publishing Nov. 14 -- comes out a few weeks after Pence withdrew from the race after failing to gain traction with GOP primary voters.

“There was no real constituency for him,” said Kyle Kondik, an elections analyst at the University of Virginia Center for Politics. “That is something you would assume would apply to future runs for office.”

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Republican presidential candidate Mike Pence poses for a photograph backstage before the Seacoast Media Group and USA TODAY Network 2024 Republican Presidential Candidate Town Hall Forum held in the historic Exeter Town Hall in Exeter, New Hampshire. The former Vice President of the United States and former Governor of Indiana spoke to prospective New Hampshire voters about issues during the hour-long forum.

The 64-year-old hasn’t said what he plans to do next, except for his general comment that he will “never leave the fight for conservative values” or the fight to elect “principled Republican leaders.”

Ralph Reed, a longtime Republican strategist who heads the evangelical Faith and Freedom Coalition, called Pence a “full-spectrum conservative with policy chops” who has a vast network of former aides throughout Washington and “knows virtually everyone.”

“He will be influential in setting the direction of the GOP and conservatism for many years,” Reed said.

Kondik said he can see Pence staying involved in the religious conservative causes he has long championed.

The new book could help with that. Pence said he wrote about how to prioritize faith and family because “the fate of nations, including this one, ultimately comes down to the strength of the family.”

Faith has always been central to who Pence is and, after he became Trump’s 2016 running mate, was a dominant part of his public image as well as a source of both praise and mockery.

Some of the criticism of Pence focused on his self-enforced rules to build a “zone” around his marriage, particularly the vow he made after being elected to Congress in 2000 to never dine alone with a woman who was not his wife, Karen.

After he first shared that with a reporter in 2002, Pence said, he was the subject of good-natured ribbing from fellow lawmakers.

“I don’t want to get in your zone, Pence!” he remembers colleagues saying as they gave him a wide berth in the halls of Congress.

But when his 2002 interview became part of the national conversation in 2017, Pence said, he was ridiculed as sexist for having a rule that prevented women he worked with from rising to positions of power.

“To suggest that women needed to have a dinner alone with me to excel in their careers is, frankly, demeaning and insulting to them,” Pence wrote.

Underscoring the emphasis on family, the book is written with his older daughter, Charlotte Pence Bond, who was with him at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

She writes about that experience, including the family’s flight from a vulnerable office in the Senate to an underground loading dock where they could be better protected from the rioters storming through the building. The gravity of the situation was clear to Bond as she noticed how a Secret Service agent covered Karen Pence’s body with his own as the group turned each corner.

As the situation escalated, Bond made a comment about Trump that she quickly regretted.

“It’s unforgivable,” she said of the position the president had put her family in.

But Karen Pence corrected her daughter.

“She was right,” Bond wrote. “My faith commands me to forgive others.”

Bond also tried to follow her father’s lead.

“He showed me what it looks like to have honor and a steady hand,” she wrote in the books’ final chapter, “but he also demonstrated the command of Christ to `love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.’”

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Mike Pence talks faith, family in book after GOP race for president