Donald Trump hit two home runs this week. The first, immediately following the horrific terrorist truck attack in Nice, was his statement in a media interview that if elected he would ask Congress for a declaration of war to combat global terrorism. The second was the inspired selection of Indiana governor Mike Pence to join the GOP ticket.
Before getting to Pence, let me linger a moment on Trump’s declaration-of-war pronouncement.
Following the tragic terrorist attacks in Paris late last year, French president Francois Hollande declared war on ISIS. It was an act of courage. But France had to go it alone.
France has been an American ally for about 250 years. It is a key member of NATO. But President Obama never stood shoulder to shoulder with Hollande and asked for a declaration of war against ISIS. Nor did he use American clout for a NATO declaration of war.
I recently interviewed former secretaries of state Henry Kissinger and George P. Shultz, as well as retired four-star general Jack Keene. They all endorsed a full-throated U.S. declaration of war. And they added that with such a declaration, the U.S. must be prepared to destroy ISIS in its safe havens in Iraq and Syria.
So when Donald Trump made it clear that this, in fact, “is war,” deserving of a declaration of war, he distinguished himself. No one else has done it. Not Congress. Not Obama. Certainly not Hillary.
Trump’s second home run was his selection of Mike Pence as his running mate. Down through the years, as a leader of the conservative House Republican Study Committee and later as the third-ranking member of the House Republican leadership team, he stood firm as a genuine and consistent conservative.
On economic policy Pence has held to the key building block of growth. He is a budget hawk who voted against President George W. Bush’s fiscally bloated No Child Left Behind education bill and hyper-expensive Medicare prescription-drug bill. He said he would not support new middle-class entitlements. He was consistent.
Just over ten years ago, Pence was voted conservative man of the year by Human Events. I did the interview and subsequent write-up. Pence described himself as “an unregenerate supply-sider” whose central aim is to marry supply-side tax cuts with strict spending restraint to expand the economy and get the budget into balance.
A few years ago, Pence spoke to the Detroit Economic Club. He called for sound monetary reform, tax relief, access to American energy, regulatory reform, and trade. New York Sun editor Seth Lipsky reminds us that Trump has stood for a stable and reliable dollar, including a standard to back it up. Pence stands for these same things.
In Indiana, which has been hard hit by manufacturing losses, job declines, and shrinking wages, Governor Pence combined tax cuts with spending restraint to spur the Hoosier economy. In this important respect he would be an excellent spokesman within the industrial Rust Belt, which includes Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. These states have all suffered similarly, but they’re states where polling suggests Trump could carry the day in November. Pence helps get him there.Contributing to GOP unity, Pence is a churchgoing evangelical family man. He believes that “the sanctity of human life is the central axiom of Western civilization.” In this respect he will be an important bridge to social conservatives. And he might just soften the opposition of the Never Trump movement.
And Pence is well acquainted with the ways of Washington. He has strong ties to Speaker Paul Ryan and he is well regarded by GOP leaders in both the Senate and the House.
Finally, he will prove to be a tough and unyielding spokesman for the Trump ticket. Pence is a fighter. He will happily go after Hillary’s awful record.
So this was a week where we learned a Trump-Pence ticket will seek to declare and wage war to destroy ISIS. We learned that the GOP ticket is pro-growth, ready for tax cuts and deregulation. And we learned that the ticket will be allied with traditional and social conservatives. With these credentials, Trump-Pence is in position to carry states in November that no Republican has won in decades.
It was also a week where Hillary’s polls were like stocks looking for a bottom. Trump-Pence is a winner for the GOP.