CLEVELAND (AP) — Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, making his first appearance in Cleveland since being named Donald Trump’s running mate, tried to reassure Republicans nervous about the celebrity businessman’s conservative credentials by vouching for his character and comparing him to Ronald Reagan.
Pence, long a conservative darling, made a surprise appearance Tuesday in front of a powerful conservative lobbying group to vow “that Donald Trump will be a great president of the United States of America because his heart beats with the heart of the American people.”
“He’s a builder. He’s a fighter. He’s a father and a patriot,” Pence said of Trump in what may be a preview of his vice presidential acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention on Wednesday. “Trust me when I say this. When we come together as a party, we’ll re-elect strong conservative majorities in the House and the Senate and elect this good man as the 45th president of the United States, and I know in my heart that we will make America great again.”
Trump picked Pence as his running mate last week after days of unusual and very public deliberations. Those in Trump’s camp who advocated for Pence framed his selection as a step toward party unity, touting his popularity among conservatives, including those who were skeptical of Trump and supported other candidates during the bruising Republican primary battle.