The Corner

Santorum > Pence for Veep

A few days ago I made the case that Rick Santorum would be Trump’s best v.p. pick, even though he is on practically nobody’s list of the contenders. Indiana governor Mike Pence is now atop that list. In comparison, Santorum seems to me a much better choice.

Pence is said to be a good pick for helping Trump win support from social conservatives. But Santorum has won far more votes from social conservatives across the nation than Pence has, by virtue of his having run for president. Pence also disappointed some social conservatives by agreeing under pressure to amend a religious-freedom law in his state.

Santorum seems more likely to defend Trump effectively, in part because he is already aligned with Trump on what I take to be his core issues of trade and immigration. Pence, on the other hand, will either have to say in interviews that he disagrees with Trump’s views or go through a sudden conversion on them. As I put it the other day, “Trump wants to run as an economic nationalist allied to social conservatives. Santorum is just the Republican running mate to solidify that brand.” And Pence, for all his virtues, isn’t.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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