When your presidential candidate is as bizarre as Donald Trump, it’s hard to make even an educated guess as to who he might pick to complete the ticket. There were long-shots, and there were the seriously-considered former Congressman Newt Gingrich and current New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
Trump announced in a weirdly understated manner–via Twitter!–that he had gone for the other name in the three-man front-runner list: Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, a man who initially endorsed Sen. Ted Cruz for president.
But what does it mean that he chose him? And reportedly had little to no confidence in that decision.
Pence is a relative unknown who has officially withdrawn from the re-election campaign for Indiana governor. He was a congressman but has mostly made headlines for Indiana’s so-called religious liberty bill that was mostly about the ability to not serve LGBT customers.
Much has been made of the areas in which Trump and Pence disagree, but why would Trump want a candidate who doesn’t broaden his appeal? Pence may just be a pragmatically solid choice for the Donald. Trump may be the “outsider” candidate, but if he really wants to get all the way inside the Oval Office, picking a guy who seems boring, conservative and practical enough to get him there is wise.
PENCE COUNTERS TRUMP’S NEW YORKNESS
No wild swings towards a totally unknown name, no assimilation of dry-cleaning fetcher Christie into the Borg, or bringing longtime private citizen Newt back into government, Trump went with a rather lackluster but very conservative governor of a state that you’ve definitely flown in an airplane over. A sensible, middle-American choice.
Obviously Trump’s status as a rich New Yorker with two ex-wives has not stopped him from being the bizarro populist people’s champion. But Pence still seems like a savvy choice to make his ticket look a little more of an All-American one.
PENCE IS FISCALLY CONSERVATIVE
He didn’t become a Congressman until 2000, when George W. Bush’s tenure didn’t even try to cut spending. The New York Times notes that he missed Newt Gingrich’s fight with Bill Clinton over budget fights, and by the time Pence got to office he was out of fashion and deeply ineffectual as a congressman.
Still, he’s highly ranked by fiscal conservatives in that he’s been way out of step with his party when it compromised on myriad entitlements and beefy programs like Bush’s Medicare Part D. Standing next to Trump, the protectionist who doesn’t really do the Ronald Reagan-like small government lip service thing at all, Pence makes the whole scene look more conservative. Yes, he has expressed support for the Trans Pacific Partnership, which Trump literally compared to rape, but maybe Pence will help fiscal conservatives sleep a little easier at night once they cast their ballot.
HE’S SOCIALLY CONSERVATIVE
There were a handful of tweets in which Pence expressed disagreement with Trump’s desire to, oh, ban all Muslims from the country. But Pence is very anti-immigration, and anti-amnesty. He simply (correctly) tweeted that the constitution might clash with the idea of banning people based on religion.
Pence is exceedingly anti-abortion where Trump was once pro-choice. He is very anti-gay, where Trump appears indifferent. And where Trump of decades past wanted to legalize all drugs, Pence recently upped mandatory minimums for drug dealers in Indiana.
Trump could have gone with a lackey, or a man who was a little too similar to him such as Sen. Jeff Sessions. He choose someone who complements his campaign and his political stances (such as they are, at the moment, always subject to change), and he gives off a whiff of understated credibility.
Maybe do something about that logo, though.
Breaking the mattress of America. pic.twitter.com/M4Cq62YS2c— Full Frontal (@FullFrontalSamB) July 15, 2016