Starting a news program is no small thing, even when it’s for little people.
Charlotte Pence Bond, Vice President Mike Pence’s daughter, joins “Problematic Women” to discuss her recently launched news program for kids called the “Littles News Briefing.”
Pence Bond, 26, also speaks about her relationship with her dad, growing up in the Pence household, and life as a newlywed.
Also on today’s show, Amy Swearer, legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation, joins us to talk about the Second Amendment, why all us ladies should consider getting our concealed-carry gun permits, and her new role co-hosting the “SCOTUS 101” podcast. Plus, Helena Richardson, director of Heritage’s Young Leaders Program, joins us to discuss what COVID-19 means for summer internships at Heritage and how you can apply in the future.
Enjoy the show!
Lauren Evans: We are so excited to welcome our next guest, Charlotte Pence Bond, to the show. Charlotte, thanks for joining us.
Charlotte Pence Bond: Hi, thanks so much for having me.
Evans: You have just launched your own news program. Congratulations.
Pence Bond: Thank you.
Evans: It’s called the “Littles News Briefing,” and it is specifically designed for kids to be able to get the news in a way that is safe and easy for them to understand. My first question is, why did you decide to launch the show?
Pence Bond: Yeah. Well, thanks so much for having me. Yeah, I mean, I originally kind of wanted to do something for kids during this time that everyone was kind of stuck in quarantine and slowing the spread, and they were just really on my heart.
And so I started thinking about it, and I was remembering that when I was in second grade, was when 9/11 happened. And talking to my husband about it, and I was saying we weren’t allowed to go into the living room because the TV was on, and we would’ve had nightmares. We would’ve been scared. And I remember not being able to go into the living room, and I think we sent my brother in there to check it out, and to spy and tell us what was happening.
But I was thinking how a lot of kids are probably in kind of a similar position right now. There’s a lot of stuff on the news that sounds a little bit scary, and it’s a little bit unknown, even to us adults.
And I thought the difference right now is that everybody is at home, so you might not be allowed to watch the news, but it’s kind of hard when you’re all at home, and there’s probably the TV on. And so I wanted to make something that was a little bit of a briefing for kids, that was similar to the press briefings that adults are watching.
Virginia Allen: Yeah. Charlotte, I want to ask you a little bit more about that.
The show comes out every other day. There’s an episode released on YouTube, or it’s also available in podcast format on Spotify, Stitcher, Apple Podcast, really wherever you get your podcasts.
The idea of the show, I think, is so creative, because obviously, there’s so many parents at home right now. There’s so much going on, but they want to keep their kids informed, but like you say, this is a sensitive issue. It’s a big topic.
It’s so awesome to have this resource that’s age-appropriate for kids. And you obviously grew up in a home that was very adept to the news, and very involved in what was going on in the world. How did your parents, even from a young age, learn to sit down with you and talk about big issues that were going on in the world?
Pence Bond: Yeah, it’s something with this podcast and show that I’ve been noticing more, and trying to be really intentional about not making it politically opinionated necessarily, because I do think that’s really the role of parents to decide what news they’re talking to their kids about, what controversial issues they’re talking to their kids about, and how they want to bring those things up.
In this show, I’ve tried to keep it really educational, and just giving a lot of the facts, but I think in our house, my parents were really good at that, because it was something that was just a part of everyday life. I mean, my dad was, when we were talking about politics around the dinner table, it was just, “What did you do at work today?” And that would be the conversation.
It wasn’t necessarily always politically-charged. And so, it was just a topic that we talked about casually. But I think that it’s for every parent to kind of be able to decide what they bring up with their kids.
Evans: I love that you incorporate your parents in the show. They’ve both been on. And that’s so special for the kids to see that the vice president and the second lady want them to be informed.
What sort of response are you receiving from the kids who listen?
Pence Bond: Yeah, I’ve gotten a lot of questions in, and people can send questions to [email protected] You can either send it as an email, or you can send it in as a video. And so we’ve had a lot of kids sending in videos of themselves asking questions, and it’s been really cool, because a lot of them have very specific questions about the coronavirus, and they’re good questions.
I mean, I have to do my research to answer them, and I’ve noticed kids like to be taken seriously. They don’t want to be treated like they can’t handle information. And typically, it can be scarier to kids when they’re actually not given information, because then their imaginations are allowed to run wild, which is the same as us adults. I think that they’ve gotten a lot of questions in that have been really good.
Interviewing my parents was really fun. My dad was on the first show, and it’s challenging to interview your parents, because you kind of just want to talk to them normally. And I remember I asked my dad to do it, and I thought he would Skype from his home office, and he wanted to do it at the White House, and he wanted to have the backdrop that he always does for his serious interviews.
He has a very legitimate background, and I have, I’m in my closet, basically. And it’s great, and he took it really seriously, which was really nice.
Allen: I think that’s so awesome. It really is special for kids to be like, “Wow, that’s the vice president, and he’s talking to me!” So cool. Where do you see the show going? I mean, do you think this is something that you’ll continue even after coronavirus?
Pence Bond: Yeah, I want to. I’m going to kind of see how it goes. I mean, I’ve started incorporating things into the show that are not just about coronavirus, so they’re a little more about current events, but not necessarily giving too much information about maybe what’s going on in the world, but just explaining to kids the history of certain things.
I think as we get into election season, too, I think there’ll be a lot of questions about that, and we can start talking about our democracy, and we can start talking about how the Constitution is set up.
Evans: I love that. It’s such a great resource, and I think such a needed resource. And this isn’t your first foray into children’s products. You’ve also written a number of children’s books with your mom, featuring the Pence family bunny, Marlon Bundo.
First, can you tell us the story about this famous bunny, and why you and your mom decided to write the book?
Pence Bond: Yeah. Thank you, yeah. Yes, I have a bunny, a real bunny. His name is Marlon Bundo, And I got him in college, and he became kind of weirdly famous when we moved to D.C.
I think the media just really picked up on the fact we had a bunny and thought it was hilarious. And it’s really funny, because it showed us how different, culturally, the United States are because, a lot of people tell us, “Oh, yeah, I always had a bunny growing up,” and then we’ll have people be like, “Why would you have a bunny in your house?”
And so we had him, we moved him to D.C. with us, and he just kind of became famous through an Instagram account that I started for him.
My mom and I wanted to do a children’s book. I’ve always wanted to write children’s books. And so, we did it together, and she illustrated. We have three books out now, so the first book was following my dad around, and learning about the role of the vice presidency.
Allen: So fun. You’ve also written another book about your dad and your relationship with your dad called “Where You Go: Life Lessons from My Father.” Can you share one of those life lessons with us today that your dad taught you?
Pence Bond: Yeah. The main one I always go back to is following your dreams, but then taking your family with you. I think my parents were really good at doing that. It was always, my dad’s job was never just my dad’s job, it was something that we were very much allowed to be a part of, and we were allowed to be involved as much as we wanted, or as little as we wanted.
We never had to go to a fundraiser or anything. If we didn’t want to go, we didn’t have to. And it really allowed us to have our own opinions and develop our own thoughts about politics and policy. And be like other families around the country, who, not everybody agrees with everybody in most families, and so that’s like my family, too, and I think that it helped us to be able to talk to people that don’t agree with us.
But my dad has always really shown me that, and my mom, together, that when you follow your dreams and you go after things, you do so as a family, and you do so as a couple.
Evans: Now, I want to talk a little bit more about growing up in the Pence household, because I feel like right now, your dad is kind of like America’s dad right now. And you have such a great relationship with both of your parents.
What did your mom and dad do when you were so young to lay such a great foundation for the relationship that you have today?
Pence Bond: Yeah, that’s a good question. I like that you said he’s America’s dad, because honestly, starting the “Littles News Briefing” was kind of based off of that idea, because I was seeing him on TV every night, and I was being reassured, but I was realizing he’s also my actual dad.
And so it’s easy for me to be reassured watching him on the news, and other people might not have that, and other kids might need another resource to be reassured and encouraged during this time. But I think my parents, they really were encouraging to us to figure out what was our passion, and to go after that. I mean, we were never pushed in a certain direction. We all had very different interests growing up.
And then throughout adulthood even, I mean, my brother’s in the military, my sister’s in law school, and I’m in grad school now, but I went to film school and worked in Hollywood. And we all just, we have very different interests.
I think my parents really cultivated that in us. They had us try new things, and go to do things that we were scared of or nervous about, or didn’t think they were good at, to kind of try things out. I think that’s a big reason that now I don’t ever really feel like, if I’m going after something that I’m passionate about, that they’re not going to be supportive of it, if they feel that that’s something I’m being called to do.
Allen: That’s huge. That’s so cool. And Charlotte, by now does it feel just super normal and natural that your dad is the vice president, or does it still sometimes hit you that, “Whoa, oh, my goodness, there’s my dad,” like you say, on TV, working alongside the president of the United States?
Pence Bond: It’s funny. I mean, at the end of the day, it’s always been, he’s still just my dad, and this is his job. But I feel like it’s one of those things you probably look back on, and you think that it was so crazy, but when you’re in it, it’s just how life is right now.
And so, especially since I was there, I was on the campaign trail, and I wrote about that a lot in the book you mentioned, “Where You Go.” I mean, I traveled with them almost every day that my parents were on the campaign trail. And so, I think that that whole process was surreal, looking back, but at the time, again, it was just life, and it was just what we were doing.
I don’t know. I don’t see it as crazy probably as I will in the future, telling people about it, when life goes back to normal a little bit, maybe.
Evans: One thing we talk a lot about on the show is dating and relationships, and you are recently married. Congratulations.
Pence Bond: Thanks.
Evans: How did you meet your husband, Henry, and what was it like? I mean, you are a little bit in the limelight being the vice president’s daughter.
Pence Bond: Yeah, I met him at my brother’s wedding. Technically, my brother was trying to set us up ever since then. Henry and my brother are both pilots in the military, and they were in training together. And so, they just kind of became friends.
And, I think, as I started talking, I would call my brother and talk to him about religion and politics and all these, like, big concepts. And he would always be like, “I keep talking to my friend Bond about this.” He calls him Bond, by his last name.
He’s, like, “I think, you know, you guys, he keeps talking to me about the same exact things that you could talk to me about.” And so it became kind of a joke that we should meet and all this stuff. And so my brother and sister-in-law kind of pushed it a little bit, and eventually Henry asked for my number, and he came and took me on a date about, I guess, almost two years ago.
So, yeah. And then we dated long distance for about a year and got engaged last July.
Allen: I love it. We all need those people in our lives that are looking out for us. That’s the best. How have you and Henry been staying busy and active during quarantine?
Pence Bond: Yeah. He’s in the military, and he’s actually deploying, so we just wanted to get married this past December, pretty quickly planned a wedding so we would marry before he deployed.
We’ve been affected by it in a way a lot of military families have. He’s actually quarantined away from me because he will be deploying. So, just to take extra precautions. It’s hard to be a part, it’s something you sign up for in the military, but it’s much harder than I probably even thought it would be.
But it’s a good thing that it’s hard. It’s because you love that person. And we have not been physically together that much during this quarantine, unlike a lot of other couples.
Allen: Yeah. Well, we know that when one spouse serves, they both serve. We certainly thank you both for your service. Thanks. A huge deal, and yeah, incredibly challenging any time, but especially when there’s a global pandemic going on.
Evans: Well, Charlotte, thank you so much for joining us.
Pence Bond: Thanks so much. Thanks for having me on.