Saturday 24 February 2018

Differences aside, Pence looks a safe bet for Trump

Now we know the Republican's running mate, what about Hillary's, asks Julie Pace

EGO: US presidential candidate Donald Trump with his vice-presidential pick Mike Pence. REUTERS/John Sommers II
EGO: US presidential candidate Donald Trump with his vice-presidential pick Mike Pence. REUTERS/John Sommers II

Julie Pace

Donald Trump and his running mate yesterday presented themselves to America as the Republican team that will take on Hillary Clinton and her Democratic sidekick for the US presidency in November.

Billionaire businessman Trump announced Indiana governor Mike Pence as his running mate, adding an experienced politician with deep Washington connections to the party presidential ticket.

Trump's choice of Mr Pence was aimed in part at easing some Republicans' concerns about his temperament and lack of political experience.

Pence spent 12 years in Congress before being elected governor and his demeanour is as calm as Trump's is fiery. While some conservatives are sceptical of Trump's political leanings, Pence has been a stalwart ally on social issues.

Yet Pence is largely unknown to many Americans. And his solidly conventional political background runs counter to Trump's anti-establishment mantra.

After yesterday's official unveiling in New York, the two men will head to Cleveland, Ohio, next week for the Republican National Convention.

As Pence arrived for a private meeting with Trump on Friday, he told reporters he "couldn't be more happy for the opportunity to run with and serve with the next president of the United States".

Read more: Trump running mate Mike Pence 'man of honour'

Read more: Unflappable Mike Pence could help Donald Trump stay cool

The governor has been a long-time advocate of trade deals such as NAFTA and the Trans Pacific Partnership, both of which Trump aggressively opposes. Pence has been critical of Trump's proposed temporary ban on foreign Muslims entering the United States, calling the idea "offensive and unconstitutional".

The reaction to the Pence choice from Republican officials was overwhelmingly positive - no small feat for Trump, given how polarising he has been within his own party.

"It was a pick that clearly shows he is pivoting to the general election," said Republican chairman Reince Priebus.

"He is choosing a person who has the experience inside and outside Washington, Christian conservative, very different style that I think shows a lot of maturity."

Pence, 57, served six terms in Congress before being elected governor and could help Trump navigate Capitol Hill. He is well-regarded by evangelical Christians, particularly after signing a law that critics said would allow businesses to deny service to gay people for religious reasons.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton's campaign moved quickly to paint him as the "most extreme pick in a generation".

"By picking Mike Pence as his running mate, Donald Trump has doubled down on some of his most disturbing beliefs by choosing an incredibly divisive and unpopular running mate," said John Podesta, Clinton's campaign chairman.

Clinton spent Friday holding meetings in Washington about her own vice-presidential choice. Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren, a favourite of liberals and one of the Democrats' most effective Trump critics, and Colorado governor John Hickenlooper, were seen in separate cars that left Clinton's home.

Housing secretary Julian Castro also met Clinton.



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