Sunday 17 December 2017

Trump picks conservative Pence as his running mate

Pence and Donald Trump on Tuesday.Photo: Reuters
Pence and Donald Trump on Tuesday.Photo: Reuters

Steve Holland

Donald Trump has picked Indiana Governor Mike Pence as his vice-presidential running mate, Republican sources said last night.

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee is due to formally announce his choice today in Manhattan.

Mr Trump told national Republican officials that he had settled on Mr Pence, according to the sources.

Mr Trump will be formally nominated as the party's candidate for the November 8 election at the Republican National Convention next week in Cleveland. Traditionally, the vice-presidential choice is used to build enthusiasm among party loyalists.

Mr Trump's choice of running mate is seen as critical because his defeat of 16 rivals in the Republican primary race left the party divided and some party leaders are still uneasy about some of his campaign positions, and his style.

Washington media outlet Roll Call said Mr Trump was reportedly impressed with Mr Pence's calm demeanour, his experience on Capitol Hill and as a governor, and Mr Pence's potential to assist in governing if Mr Trump wins in November. Mr Trump, a New York businessman, has never held elected office.

Mr Trump had also considered former House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich (73) and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (53) as finalists.

Mr Gingrich said earlier yesterday he would not be surprised if Mr Trump chose Mr Pence.

Mr Pence (57), a former congressman, is seen as a safe choice, not too flashy but popular among conservatives, with Midwestern appeal and the ability to rally more party faithful behind Mr Trump.

Mr Pence also could give a boost to Mr Trump's campaign fundraising efforts. The governor has strong ties to billionaire donors Charles and David Koch, including current and former staff members who have worked for them.

Mr Pence is to the right of Mr Trump on social issues, signing restrictive abortion legislation and pushing to de-fund the Planned Parenthood women's healthcare organisation. Mr Trump has said he opposes abortion, but his views have been inconsistent, and he has said Planned Parenthood provides some valuable services.

Mr Pence also criticised Mr Trump's proposal to ban Muslims from entering the country. And in 2006, he introduced immigration legislation that would let illegal immigrants apply for US work visas if they left the country for a period.

Mr Pence and Mr Trump met on Wednesday at the governor's residence in Indianapolis. They were joined by members of Mr Trump's family.

Mr Pence had backed a Trump rival, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, in April before the Indiana primary, but he praised Mr Trump and said he would work on behalf of the eventual Republican nominee. Mr Trump won Indiana anyway, prompting Mr Cruz to drop out of the race to be the party's nominee.

Mr Pence had considered running for president himself in 2016 before deciding to run for re-election as governor. Conservatives had urged him to seek the White House, but missteps last year related to an Indiana law seen as anti-gay hurt his national profile.

This year, he was the target of a mocking social media campaign by women outraged at a law he signed creating new restrictions on abortions. Feeling that the law invaded their privacy, women responded by calling Mr Pence's office to describe their periods or tweeting similar messages.

Mr Pence ran unsuccessfully for Congress twice before he won election to the House of Representatives in 2000, where he was chairman of the Republican Study Committee, a group of conservatives.

Irish Independent

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