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Charlotte Pence hopes bunny book ‘Marlon Bundo’ brings people together

When the Pence family created an Instagram account for their bunny, few would have imagined its popularity would lead to a children's book -- or that the book, "Marlon Bundo’s Day in the Life of the Vice President," would cause a cultural stir. Second lady Karen Pence and daughter Charlotte, who wrote and illustrated the book together, sit down with Judy Woodruff for a conversation.

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  • Amna Nawaz:

    When a family from Indiana created an Instagram account for their bunny, few could have imagined its popularity would lead to writing a children's book or that the book, "Marlon Bundo's Day in the Life of the Vice President," would cause a cultural stir.

    But that's exactly what happened from the collaboration of the vice president's wife, Karen Pence and daughter Charlotte.

    Judy Woodruff recently sat down with them and began by asking Charlotte about how they got started.

  • Charlotte Pence:

    It really all started with Marlon.

    When we moved to D.C., we got an Instagram page for him after he got kind of popular in the press because they kind of liked that we had a bunny. And we wanted to do a children's book.

    And so I thought, you know, it would be really cool to have my mom illustrate it, but also for it be an educational book that teaches kids and parents and educators about the role of the vice president.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Is that how you envisioned this, Mrs. Pence?

  • Karen Pence:

    Yes, that's how it started.

    I mean, I always knew Charlotte would be an author, because she's been a storyteller since she could talk. And so to be able to collaborate on her very first published book was really a privilege.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, this was all really about building up your husband's profile, right, teaching people about the role of the vice president?

  • Karen Pence:

    Well, about the role — well, actually, we talked about…

  • Charlotte Pence:

    The role of a vice president.

  • Karen Pence:

    Yes. We actually talk about other vice presidents, too. We have a little bit in there about the Bidens.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    The book is about Marlon following your father to the White House and following him throughout his day.

    How often does Marlon actually do that?

  • Charlotte Pence:

    Well, it's a little bit fictionalized.

    He hasn't actually been to a couple of the places, but he has been to the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, where Marlon book goes with my dad in the book. So, he has been there for an event with military families. But he has not been all over the White House yet.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    As I understand it, he's your bunny. Is that right?

  • Charlotte Pence:

    Yes.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    But you're in California. So you have left him in the custody of your parents?

  • Charlotte Pence:

    Yes. Yes, he lived with me at college for about — for four years.

    And then, when I moved, we had him stay in D.C. since he's the BOTUS, so he has official duties in D.C.

    (LAUGHTER)

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Now, as both of you know, there is already another book out there by the comedian John Oliver about another bunny named Marlon Bundo, but this bunny has a life of his own.

    Let's just hear a clip of John Oliver.

  • John Oliver:

    Our story is about Marlon Bundo falling in love with another boy rabbit, because our Marlon Bundo is gay.

    (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

  • Judy Woodruff:

    How did you take John Oliver essentially trolling your father, the vice president, for his views on gay rights?

  • Charlotte Pence:

    I really saw it as, it's now we have two bunny books that are giving money to charities.

    I am really proud of the book that we put out. I think that it's educational. It's fun. It's supposed to be fun. It's supposed to be for everybody. And, you know, our books are also giving a portion of the proceeds to charities.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Do you share your dad's views on that issue?

  • Charlotte Pence:

    I mean, I'm not going to talk about my political views.

    But I think that we have animated debates in our house, and we all have our own opinions. But I think that it's important to kind of come together. And I think that our book really brings people together.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And, Mrs. Pence, you have said you want to direct the proceeds of the book to art therapy, which is something you have spent a lot of time doing. Tell us about that.

  • Karen Pence:

    Well, I chose two organizations where I'm on the board.

    Tracy's Kids is for children with cancer. And they're the ones who first exposed me to what art therapy is in 2006. And the other one is Riley Children's Hospital in Indianapolis, and they have an art therapy program there as well.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And, Charlotte, you directed the proceeds to human trafficking. Why did you choose that area?

  • Charlotte Pence:

    A lot of people don't necessarily realize it's also a big problem in the United States. So, A21 does a lot of awesome work to reach out to those people.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And, Mrs. Pence, I know one of your — the other causes you have been interested in has to do with military families. Of course, your own son, Charlotte's brother, Michael, is in the Marines.

    And I think you said — in an interview, you said from observing his wife, Sarah, your daughter-in-law, you said you have learned more about what military families are going through.

    Can you expand on that?

  • Karen Pence:

    Yes, we're getting ready. My office is doing a lot of research right now working with some other agencies to see how we can help military spouses and families.

    It's a difficult life. And so we're looking to see if there are things that we can bring awareness to that maybe can help their plight a little bit.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Your son is an active Marine right now, at a time when the United States is involved in figuring out its role in a number of conflicts around the world. How does that affect your life?

  • Karen Pence:

    You know, it's interesting. When people went into the Marines, it just seemed the right thing to me. This is where he's supposed to be.

    I see these members of the military, and it seems like it's a calling. And he absolutely loves being a Marine.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    I do want to come back to the book, because, as we said, it describes a typical day in the life of the bunny of the United States, BOTUS.

    And yet we're in the middle of a presidency that's anything but typical. It's not even comparable to the time you were in Washington when your husband was serving in Congress, is it?

  • Karen Pence:

    When you're in politics, this is part of it. I mean, you know, Charlotte and I were joking earlier, we said, this really is a day in the life of a vice president.

    You always have conflicts when you go back in history. So I think that's part of it. We like to say, that's what freedom looks like, when people have a chance to disagree and you get both sides talking. So I think that's a good thing about a democracy.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Charlotte, do you see this experience of being vice president and second lady of the United States changing your parents in some way? What do you see about them?

  • Charlotte Pence:

    For us, it's always been, this is just kind of my dad's job or my mom's role. It's not — I mean, we're the same as we were before, and we will be the same after. We're a very close, tight-knit family.

    So, I think that we have all gotten a lot closer through this.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Mrs. Karen Pence, second lady of the United States, Charlotte Pence, author of the book "Marlon Bundo's Day in the Life of the Vice President," thank you very much for coming in. We appreciate it.

  • Karen Pence:

    Thank you, Judy.

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