Mike Pence: Political chops and contrasts

Agence France-Presse
Mike Pence: Political chops and contrasts
Indiana Governor Mike Pence's connections could help to ease tensions with a Republican Party still having a hard time digesting Donald Trump, and to raise funds for the campaign

NEW YORK, USA – Indiana Governor Mike Pence, a Christian conservative widely reported to be Donald Trump‘s pick for a running mate, would add precious experience in Washington politics – and a dose of good manners – to the ticket.

Governor of the Midwest state since only January 2013, the 57-year-old is a lawyer by training and used to host a radio talk show, so his communication skills are strong.

And he knows his way around Washington: He held a seat in the House of Representatives from 2001 to 2013 and served as chairman of the House Republican Conference – the party’s 3rd most important position on Capitol Hill – from 2009 to 2011.

Seen as disciplined and relatively discreet, Pence was apparently the favorite of Trump’s children, who exercise much influence over the brash billionaire and political novice as he campaigns for president.

US networks reported Thursday, July 14, that Pence has already accepted the VP slot.

Trump had planned to formally declare his running mate pick Friday, July 15, but has now postponed that announcement in light of the deadly attack in Nice.

Pence’s qualities stand in contrast to the more unpredictable personalities of two other politicians who were considered by Trump: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and former House speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia.

The current House speaker, Paul Ryan, whose relations with Trump are delicate, says he himself considers Pence a friend.

Smooth ruffled feathers

Pence’s connections could help to ease tensions with a Republican Party still having a hard time digesting Trump, and to raise funds for the campaign.

And Pence’s quiet, low-profile personality, shaped in large part by his Christian faith, poses little threat of overshadowing that of Trump, who values loyalty in the people who work with him.

Until now Trump and Pence did not know each other particularly well.

Pence is a conservative defender of family values, very religious, against abortion and gay marriage, and opposed to the idea of the US taking in Syrian refugees.

He has described himself as “a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order.”

As governor he has signed bills making it harder for women in Indiana to have abortions, with Indiana the second US state to prohibit ending a pregnancy because the fetus suffers abnormalities.

And he has drawn criticism for a law that critics say discriminates against the LGBT community.

Trump has met with Pence several times in recent days and campaigned with him Tuesday evening, July 12, in Indiana.

On Wednesday, July 13, Trump and his children met with Pence, who is not well known outside of Republican circles.

Pence is seen as helping Trump boost support among traditional conservatives and especially evangelical Christians wary of Trump, and perhaps even in the Rust Belt – the decaying former industrial area that includes Indiana and neighboring Ohio.

Some Republican lawmakers say they like the idea of Pence as Trump’s running mate, saying the decision would improve “the tone and tenor of the debate.”

“I’m a big fan of Mike Pence, and I think he has probably has a better chance of moving the candidate, perhaps, where he should be,” Jeff Flake was quoted as saying. He is an Arizona Senator who took part in a tense meeting last week between Republicans and Trump.

“He’s conservative, and he’s smart, and he’s been good on trade and immigration as well,” Flake said.

While Trump has campaigned on a protectionist platform, Pence adheres to the laissez-faire economic views that are more conventionally Republican. He has also denounced Trump’s proposal to close US borders to Muslims as “unconstitutional.”

But some experts say the choice of Pence would not help Trump expand his voter base, especially among independents and moderate Republicans, to whom the Democrat Hillary Clinton is expected to reach out.

Until now Pence has been waging an uphill battle to win re-election in Indiana. – Rappler.com

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