An unnamed Republican source tells Roll Call that Donald Trump will tap Indiana governor Mike Pence as his vice presidential nominee. The New York Times has confirmed this reporting. CBS News’s Major Garrett earlier today spotted Pence’s deputy campaign manager Marc Lotter on a plane from Indianapolis to New York City. This morning, the Trump campaign released a list of convention speakers that included vice-presidential finalists Chris Christie and Newt Gingrich. Pence was not on it.
“We know he’s gonna speak, so what conclusion would you draw?” says longtime Gingrich confidant Randy Evans, who is also a member of the Convention Rules Committee, which has convened in Cleveland.
Pence appeared alongside Trump in Indiana on Tuesday and he and his children met privately with Pence and his family on Wednesday. Trump and his children hastily set up meetings with Christie, Gingrich, and Sessions later in the day.
Pence has long defined himself as “a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican — in that order,” and the decision to accept Trump’s offer will stoke accusations from conservatives that he is sacrificing the second for the third.
But I wrote earlier this week about how and why Pence has warmed to the idea of running with Trump: Having spent a dozen years carrying the conservative banner on Capitol Hill, Pence returned to Indiana to run for governor in 2012. He mulled a presidential bid the same year, and again in 2016. While Pence still has national ambitions, his tenure in Indiana has been marred by in large part by controversy over social issues, which he sought assiduously to avoid. He angered gay-rights activists and the business community when he signed the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act, and then alienated social conservatives when he scaled back the law. His approval ratings, once above 60 percent, have plummeted. And, desirous of a political future, he now finds hisemlf seriously at risk of losing his bid for reelection. Running on a national ticket is an excellent escape hatch.
Update I: The Indianapolis Star reports that Trump will, in fact, tap Pence for the veep spot. Trump is set to make his announcement tomorrow at 11 A.M.
Update II: It is perhaps unsurprising that Trump’s vice-presidential selection process isn’t free of the general insanity that has characterized the rest of the 2016 campaign season. After multiple news outlets reported Pence’s selection, Trump aides Paul Manafort and Jason Miller began denying that the candidate had reached a final decision. Both told Fox News’s Bret Baier that he had narrowed the field down to two people.
Say this about the potential vice-presidential nominees: Unlike, say, the Sarah Palin of 2008, they know exactly what they’re getting into.
Update III: ABC News’s Jonathan Karl reported this evening that Trump offered Pence the vice-presidential nomination … and then Trump delayed the announcement of his pick in the wake of the terror attack in Nice, France. Though all signs point to Pence as the pick, Trump told Fox News tonight that he still has not made his “final, final decision.” Pence, however, runs up against the deadline to pull his name off the ballot in the Indiana governor’s race tomorrow. Whether or not he does so by day’s end will likely signal definitively whether he is the pick.