Vice-Presidential hopeful Mike Pence, who hails from Indiana, almost got metaphorically "smoked" in public the other day, but escaped narrowly.
As this election season heats up, so does the scrutiny befalling the candidates involved. Tapes have been leaked of Donald Trump claiming he could do whatever he wants to women due to his superstar status, a slew of accusations have been hurled at Hillary Clinton (from e-mails, to bribery, and even intimations of murder). No one has yet to mention Tim Kayne, but I'm sure he'll catch up.
It was Indiana's Mike Pence who was up on the firing line last Wednesday when a group of journalists began questioning him about the clean-living Christian's stance on tobacco and its place in society.
Pence was asked how he, given his religious fervor, could align himself with the tobacco industries and lobby for them, knowing full well the illnesses and personal devastation they cause. His response as usual, was articulate and well measured as he gave the crowd a "quick reality check" about the real dangers of smoking. The man of faith, and apparently not science, stated that "despite the hysteria from the political class and the media, smoking doesn't kill."
Pence then went on to explain that "2 out of every 3 smokers does not die" from a smoking-related illness and that he was "satisfied with the fact that a mere 33% of smokers died due to smoking. "We're big on basketball in Indiana, and any hoops fan," he elaborated, "would be happy with a point guard who could sink 2 out of 3 from three-point range."
The Hoosier then stated that "9 out of 10 smokers do not contract lung cancer," another statistic he took pride in. Grinning, Pence offered another sports analogy: "That's batting .900. Heck the best baseball players in the world can barely hit three hundred. They get paid 'bigly' if I may quote the next president of the country, Donald Trump, to fail 7 out of ten times. We succeed against cancer 9 out of 10 times. To quote Trump once again, I'm not 'unproud' of that."
Pence went on to say that he was also not "unproud" that his state has the 7th highest smoking rate in the country. "In fact, only a rugged and durable, pioneering and wholesome state, with such strong people in it could handle such a high proliferation of smoking and second-hand smoke. It says a great deal about the people of Indiana."
When asked about the fact that 17% of pregnant women in his state were active smokers (nearly double the national average), Pence responded: "Studies show that moderate to heavy tobacco intake during pregnancy has a few very positive effects. The first of which is that the size of the child, especially the head, is much smaller. This makes for an easier birth and causes less trauma to the mother. Children who have been exposed to tobacco in utero have much more energy and excitability - not to be confused with ADD or ADHD - and because they do not fixate on things they have an amazing ability to multi-task. In general, they are well-suited to the manual labor and work much longer hours in general due to being unencumbered by weighty intellects."
In response to statistics that demonstrate lower birth weights and higher rates of infant mortality, Pence responded by saying, "I'm a man of faith, a man from a wholesome, small-town background. I grew up with a cornfield in my backyard watching my mother and father build everything together. We had chickens and pigs out back. Every day as I grew up, I saw the harshness of nature: some pigs lived some pigs died. Some chickens lived and some chickens died. One night our dogs gave birth. There was a runt in the litter, badly deformed. My dad, a Korean War veteran knew that the only merciful thing to do was to take it out back and put it down. What kind of life would it have had? I feel as if that applies to us as humans as well. It's all in God's plan, who lives and who doesn't live. As for me, it's God first, politics second and The Republican party third."
Then, showing his political rhetoric skills, Pence then shifted gears to conclude. "After all, the relevant question is, what is more harmful to the nation, second-hand smoke or back-handed big government disguised in do-gooder healthcare rhetoric?" He ducked into his limousine and left it up to the people to decide.