Donald Trump has selected 50th Indiana governor Mike Pence to be his running mate. Trump had initially suggested he would wait until the Republican National Convention to unveil his vice presidential choice, but Indiana law forced his hand. Candidates can’t run for both federal and state office after July 15, meaning Pence had to withdraw his name from his re-election race for governor.
Pence’s selection gives Trump a running mate with strong ties to the Republican base — particularly social conservatives. He was among the first Republicans to embrace the tea party on Capitol Hill. And as governor of Indiana, he faced major political backlash over his decision to sign into law a “religious freedom” measure that infuriated major businesses that saw it as anti-LGBT.
In tapping Pence, Trump adds to the GOP ticket a politician with ties to the Koch brothers and other influential donors who have so far stayed away from Trump.
Pence is seen as a safe political option for Trump, who also considered candidates who mirror his big personality such as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. But Pence made clear this week that he’s more than willing to play the role of attack dog, strongly criticizing Hillary Clinton during a rally with Trump.
Clinton, Pence told the applauding crowd, “must never become president of the United States.”
Pence had endorsed Texas Sen. Ted Cruz over Trump before Indiana’s crucial early May primary — a contest Trump won, knocking Cruz from the contest and clinching the nomination.
Still, Pence heaped praise on Trump in the WIBC radio interview where he endorsed Cruz, pointing to Trump’s focus on Carrier, the Indianapolis air conditioning company that was shipping 2,100 jobs to Mexico.
Pence said Trump has “given voice to the frustration of millions of working Americans with the lack of progress in Washington, D.C.”
“Let me be very clear on this race: Whoever wins the Republican nation for president of the United States, I’m going to work my heart out to get elected this fall,” Pence said.
He hasn’t avoided criticizing Trump, though. He called Trump’s attacks on an Indiana-born judge of Mexican heritage “inappropriate,” and said his proposal to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the United States was “offensive and unconstitutional.”