Presumed Republican presidential nominee has selected Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his 2016 running mate, it was learned Thursday.
The announcement was made official on Friday.
Trump had planned to announce his selection on Friday morning, but opted to delay after at least 60 people were killed in an attack in Nice, France.
Just hours after multiple outlets reported Trump was leaning toward Pence, ABC News reported the Indiana governor had in fact been selected.
Pence quickly exited a speaking event in Indianapolis on Thursday morning without taking questions from reporters. His staff had not released details of any other planned appearances for the day.
Trump met with Pence on Wednesday in Indiana, a day after the pair campaigned together in the state. They were joined by Trump’s three adult children, along with his son-and-law and campaign chair Paul Manafort, who were seen leaving the residence.
Pence is a welcome pick among anxious Republican officials who are looking for a steady, disciplined counterpart to Trump’s freewheeling style.
Where the brash billionaire is impulsive, Pence is cool-headed. Where Trump makes conservatives suspicious, Pence has credibility. And where Trump struggles to draw evangelical Christians, Pence is well-regarded by them.
A favorite quote highlights how Pence might smooth some of the sharp corners of the Trump campaign and its supporters.
“I’m a conservative,” Pence has often said. “But I’m not angry about it.”
The former congressman also is a proven fundraiser with close ties to billionaire industrialists David and Charles Koch and their network of wealthy donors, many of whom have been dismissive of Trump.
“One thing you can say about Mike Pence is he’s got a very calm, steady demeanor that in some ways is a little Reaganesque,” said Christine Mathews, a Republican pollster for former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels. “He’s a counterbalance to Trump in that way.”
Not so long ago, their relationship was a little awkward. Trump met privately with Pence before Indiana’s primaries, seeking his endorsement. Instead, Pence, under pressure from national conservatives, tepidly endorsed Trump’s rival, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, while still lavishing praise on Trump.
Trump won that primary. Before the night was over, Cruz had quit the race.
For Pence, a former six-term congressman, selection by Trump offers a return to national politics after his embrace of the role of a governor of conservative social issues sidelined his own presidential ambitions. Describing himself as “a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order,” Pence marched Indiana to the front lines of the nation’s culture wars.
In 2015, he provoked a national backlash after signing a law that critics said would have allowed businesses to deny service to gay people for religious reasons.
Pence’s one term as governor has drawn mixed reaction, and he has managed to alienate moderate Republicans over social issues.
Groups threatened boycotts over last year’s religious objections law and late-night television hosts mocked the policy, leading lawmakers to approve changes.
This year Pence clashed with the local Catholic archdiocese by opposing the settlement of Syrian refugees in Indianapolis.
Pence was also slammed for the planned 2015 launch of “JustIN,” a state-operated news service that was ditched after critics panned it as “Pravda on the Plains.”
But he has also presided over Indiana’s improving economy and plummeting unemployment rate, which Republicans credit to the state’s low taxes, limited regulation and pro-business climate.
Raised in Columbus, Indiana, in an Irish-Catholic family, Pence revered the Kennedys growing up and has said he voted for Jimmy Carter in 1980. He later identified as an evangelical Christian and was inspired to join the Republican Party by former President Ronald Reagan, whose “happy warrior” rhetorical style Pence has since tried to emulate.
After attending Hanover College, Pence graduated from Indiana University Law School in 1986. He met his wife, Karen, around the same time and twice unsuccessfully ran for Congress before taking a job at Indiana Policy Review, a conservative think tank. In a 1991 essay titled “Confessions of a Negative Campaigner,” Pence swore off harsh political tactics he used in “one of the most divisive and negative campaigns in Indiana’s modern congressional history” while calling for “basic human decency.”
“That means your First Amendment rights end at the tip of your opponent’s nose — even in the matter of political rhetoric,” Pence wrote, though in the face of a difficult re-election campaign in Indiana he has since backtracked.
In Congress, Pence sponsored a few bills that became law as amendments in other legislation. But he built a national following among conservatives for his willingness to buck his own party after opposing President George W. Bush’s Medicare expansion and the No Child Left Behind education overhaul. During the early years of President Barack Obama’s administration, Pence helped lead the opposition to the Democrat’s agenda.
“He has a particularly strong talent, a gift if you will, for being able to stick to principle while making his political opponents or those who disagree with him feel like they are being heard and respected,” said Ryan Streeter, a former Pence aide and George W. Bush staffer who is now a public affairs professor at the University of Texas at Austin.
Pence’s congressional experience is one trait that Trump, who has never held public office, said he seeks in a running mate.
Marc Short, a former Pence aide and top Koch Brothers operative, elaborated: “He’s worked with (House Speaker) Paul Ryan. He’s worked with the team in House leadership. He’s somebody who has deep relationships in the evangelical movement, and he’s somebody who has foreign affairs experience.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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