Assuming this isn’t the biggest head-fake of all time and Donald Trump doesn’t shock the world by announcing someone else, his selection of Indiana Governor Mike Pence to be his running mate will do the genuinely unexpected – please conservatives skeptical about Trump and deeply disappoint the folks who love his populist deviations from traditional GOP agenda.
Where Trump is all over the map ideologically, Pence’s record is pretty consistently conservative. Trump is unpredictable, Pence is reliable. Trump’s the man who never held a government job before and was only intermittently interested in politics; Pence ran a free-market think-tank, hosted a political talk radio show for five years, spent twelve years in the U.S House of Representatives and four years as governor. Trump is midtown Manhattan glamor and over-the-top boasting; Pence is Midwestern calm and straight talk. Trump defends Planned Parenthood, citing their non-abortion work; Pence led the charge to defund the group in 2011.
Trump envisions a big, powerful presidency ruling by decree and making sweeping changes to make America great again; Pence is an impassioned federalist. As he said at the NRA Convention in 2014:
“Washington is not only broke, it’s broken. The cure for what ails this country will come more from our state capitals than it ever will from our national capital. Despite what some may think in Washington, our state governments are not territorial outposts of the national government. The states are the wellspring of the American experiment. It will not be enough to cut federal spending; the next generation of leaders must permanently reduce the size and scope of the federal government by returning to the states the rights, resources, and responsibilities that are rightfully theirs!”
Yes, Pence disappointed a lot of conservatives with the way he tried to modify the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, signing a “fix” to the bill that allowed local governments to add civil rights protections for the LGBT community. (It also didn’t calm his critics on the Left at all.) But Pence’s Christian faith is open and, as far as anyone can tell, genuine. Trump said his favorite Bible verse is “an eye for an eye;” Pence said, “Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And that means freedom always wins.”
This is the most balanced pair since Paula Abdul hooked up with that animated cat.
The news that Trump could pick a man so unlike himself to be a heartbeat away from the presidency leaves Ann Coulter apoplectic:
Pence is the combo-platter of disaster. He’s all in for corporate America bringing in as many guest workers as they please to replace American workers, tried to sell the monster amnesty as a “compromise bill.” (How about this compromise: We start with a wall…) He also somehow managed to tick off both sides in gay marriage debate. After his state passed a law passed protecting Christians from having to participate in gay marriages, all hell broke loose. Pence thought to himself: ‘I have semi heading for me. Should I just stand here? Yes, I think I’ll just stand here!’ First, he allowed himself to be portrayed as a right-wing homophobic nut and then — just days later — he sold out to the left-wing activists, anyway.
Mickey Kaus sighs, “Trump has brought left and right together (in scorn for Pence).”
Fox News’ Chris Stirewalt calls Pence “an almost inexplicably bad choice for Trump, inviting as it does unflattering comparisons while simultaneously turning off moderate and liberal voters who Trump would need.”
Michael Savage said he “didn’t know Pence from a hole in the wall. He looks like a Boy Scout.”
What do Trump’s regular fans do if they think he completely botched the biggest and most consequential decisions of his candidacy?
Laura Ingraham is telling disappointed Trump fans, “Stay w/ Trump. Focus on saving USA, growing prosperity.”
UPDATE: It’s official!
I am pleased to announce that I have chosen Governor Mike Pence as my Vice Presidential running mate. News conference tomorrow at 11:00 A.M.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 15, 2016