Trump picks Pence as his running mate

July 16, 2016

Trump picks Pence over Gingrich and Christie as Running Mate ahead of The RNP Convention

by Dan Balz

The choice of Pence brings Trump obvious short-term benefits. What will be worth watching is whether the selection will be followed by other evidence of a change in tone and temperament by the Republican nominee-in-waiting. If that happens, party leaders believe Trump can turn himself into a more appealing and therefore electable candidate. But that would go against almost everything Trump has shown over the past 13 months as a presidential candidate.–Dan Balz

— Donald Trump did something uncharacteristic in selecting Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his vice-presidential running mate. He has chosen the safe course over flashier but more risky alternatives. The question is whether the decision is an aberration or represents an important change in his candidacy going forward.

For weeks, Trump has been in a tug of war between his own instincts and the advice of some of his advisers, inside and outside his campaign. Those advisers have urged him to tone it down and to deal with questions about his temperament by acting and sounding more presidential than the candidate who churned through the primaries by doing the opposite.

He has prided himself on being unconventional and unpredictable, and, against much advice for many months, has always reverted to form. He’s thumbed his nose at those who have tried to turn him into something he hasn’t wanted to be. From where he sits, he can say that he beat all the expert strategists and the professional politicians. Why change for the general election?

But by choosing Pence over former House speaker Newt Gingrich and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, he has embraced the thinking of those who have recommended boring over flamboyant, less risk-taking and more reassurance.

On the eve of a national convention that will help to define the kind of campaign he intends to run for the duration of the general election against Hillary Clinton, he’s picked as his running mate someone who fits the very definition of a conventional choice. That will make many people in the party happy, but will it make Trump happy in the end?

Here’s what you need to know about Mike Pence. (Peter Stevenson, Danielle Kunitz, Osman Malik/The Washington Post)

Christie has the longest and closest relationship with Trump and also an ability to speak bluntly when giving advice. That combination would be useful in a governing environment. His prosecutorial skills would have been put to use in helping lead the attack on Clinton in the fall campaign. But the New Jersey governor is not fully trusted by conservatives, and his selection could have produced resistance and complaints among the delegates here in Cleveland.

What makes Pence in the eyes of many Republicans the best choice among the three is the degree to which his selection could strengthen Trump’s shaky relationship with the party’s conservative base, buy a healthy measure of peace at next week’s national convention and thus allow Trump to claim by week’s end that the party is leaving Cleveland more united than it was in the weeks before.

Pence has executive experience as a governor and the kind of Washington experience Trump has said he wants. He has ties to the party establishment, having been a member of the House leadership. He will also reassure donors who have had qualms about the presumptive nominee.

He helps more than Christie or Gingrich in reassuring religious and social conservatives who are backing Trump but nonetheless have doubts about a man who once said he was strongly supportive of abortion rights and who has been friendly toward the LGBT community. Pence knows the ins and outs of the groups and the leaders of that movement, and he can translate Trump to them.

There are few people in the party who have demonstrated more rhetorical skill at rousing the base at events than Pence. Some Republicans who applauded his selection said they have confidence he will be a skilled and tough debater in the lone vice-presidential debate this fall and comfortable on the attack against Clinton.

But not everyone who knows him is confident about that. One Republican strategist, who otherwise sees Pence as a solid and credible choice, nonetheless noted that, in his 2012 gubernatorial campaign, he was reluctant to aggressively go after his opponent. He ended up winning by a narrower margin than party leaders had hoped or expected.

Others wonder how Pence will hold up in the glare of what promises to be a tough and highly negative presidential campaign. Gingrich and Christie have weathered high-profile controversies or scandals. Pence’s one moment in the national spotlight came last year with the storm over Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. In that case, Pence, who vigorously supported the law and then sought modification after a backlash from the business community and others, managed to offend both sides.

Pence’s selection represents the ultimate triumph of Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign chairman, who has tried since he first arrived in the spring to bring discipline to a candidate who has thrived by his lack of predictability. For months, Manafort has tried to reassure party leaders and the GOP establishment generally that Trump could and would make a successful transition to a candidate who projected a more presidential demeanor and temperament.

The choice also reinforces the electoral-map strategy favored by Manafort and Trump, one that concentrates on the industrial Midwest and appeals to white working-class voters, rather than one designed to boost Trump’s weak standing among Hispanic voters or, seemingly, to find ways to boost support among women, particularly suburban married women.

Pence has weaknesses in Indiana and would have faced a challenging reelection campaign this fall had he not joined the GOP ticket. It isn’t clear that he can help boost support for Trump in states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin or elsewhere.

The choice of Pence brings Trump obvious short-term benefits. What will be worth watching is whether the selection will be followed by other evidence of a change in tone and temperament by the Republican nominee-in-waiting. If that happens, party leaders believe Trump can turn himself into a more appealing and therefore electable candidate. But that would go against almost everything Trump has shown over the past 13 months as a presidential candidate.

4 thoughts on “Trump picks Pence as his running mate

  1. For those not familiar with Mike Pence, he is the governor of Indiana whose main claim to fame is signing a law which provided a legal avenue for businesses and corporations to discriminate against LGBT folk. He only relented to provide a fix to the law after a severe backlash accusing his state of legalizing discrimination.

    I remember how Trump tried to portray himself as the protector of the LGBT folk after the Orlando massacre. By picking Pence as his running mate, it vindicates Justice Ruth Ginsburg’s characterization of Trump as a faker. The Trump campaign was anti-Muslim, anti-Mexican, anti-immigrants, anti-trade and anti-Semitic – now it is also anti-LGBT.

    Ginsburg holds the distinction of being the first Jewish woman to sit on the supreme court bench. Given her age, stories about the Russian pogroms against the Jews and a living memory of the holocaust must have influenced Ginsburg’s world-view. The seeming normalization Trump’s neo-fascist behavior and his the casual embrace and encouragement of violence must have led Ginsburg to experience a Burkian moment, and decided that adding her voice was necessary to stop a calamity befalling the nation.

    I won’t disagree with those who view Ginsburg’s criticism of Trump as having broken with decorum, but it was a criticism that I believe she had to make. Had Ted Cruz been the presumptive GOP nominee, I don’t think Ginsburg would have said anything regardless of how ideological he might be.

    Whoever the next US President might be, she must address the address the problems and anger of those who gave rise to Trump’s candidacy and assure them of their rightful place in America while maintaining America as a place of sanctuary (hat-tip to Canada) for the tired, the poor, the huddled masses, the wretched refuse and those who lost their homes from whichever tempest they were fleeing.

    On a lighter note, I like how Trump seems to be humping Pence in their new campaign logo 🙂

  2. Trump now stands a good chance of winning the Presidency after Bernie Sanders was outbid on the NDP ticket for the presidential.
    Trump’s supporters represent the American people that are simply fed with their politicians.

    Although Killary may have the so called support of the Black, Hispanic and Female votes, a sizeable number of them from the BS camp may not give her their votes or may even abstain from voting altogether not because they love Trump but simply because they hate Killary more.

    Even though Bernie has publicly announced his support for Killary, the move will backfire big time on Killary as his supporters are not too happy about that and feel betrayed and guess who they are going to punish?

    If this side of Trump can be believed.

    Welcome back, ocho onda. It depends on who Hillary chooses as her running mate. God Bless America if Donald wins.–Din Merican

  3. DDM,

    Its too early to write Trump off.

    I am quite certain that the American people favours Bernie Sanders but the American political power brokers have seen to it that his New Deal Democratic Socialism will never see the light of day.

    In any case, Trump is the lesser of two evils. He may be brash but he has common sense and is pragmatic whereas, Killary is purely diabolical.

    Remember that 35 years ago, Ronald Reagan, the Hollywood cowboy actor was scoffed at when he became the 40th POTUS. And he did much to revive America.

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