News outlets reported on Thursday that Donald Trump is set to name Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate after months of speculation as to who his VP pick would be.
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence served 12 years in Congress, served as chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee and, later, of the House Republican Conference from 2009-2011. Pence has maintained relationships with those on Capitol Hill since his time in Congress which could benefit Trump’s shakey relationships there.
Furthermore, Pence is a seasoned, well-connected fundraiser with connections to many major GOP donors. In this arena, he is seemingly far more effective than Christie, and certainly more effective than Gingrich whose last campaign is still deeply in debt.
While many would say that Gov. Pence has a fairly reserved personality, he has been seen taking on a more aggressive role at events with Trump. Pence’s relatively reserved personality, however, could serve as a good buffer for Trump. Only one man can steal the show and that has to be Trump, himself.
Pence is also a staunch social conservative and deeply religious. He has established conservative credentials which could work in Trump’s favor as he works to establish support in the more conservative factions of the Republican party that have largely denounced him.
Having a more conservative running mate could give off the impression that Pence could ‘check’ a much more unpredictable Donald Trump. Whether that is actually possible, however, is an entirely different story.
Unlike Christie and Gingrich, both of whom were previously being vetted by The Donald for VP, Pence has much more blank slate because, for most of the country, he is largely unknown. A Bloomberg news poll this week showed that only 1 in 4 college students have ever heard of him.
Governor Pence’s stance on immigration while working on immigration reform while he was in Congress in 2006 could prove to be an issue for Trump. Since that time, the GOP has moved much farther right on the issue which could paint Pence as being somewhat sympathetic to immigrants in a time where Trump is pushing for a grandiose border wall.
While Pence may be socially and fiscally conservative, he very well may be too far right for the rest of the country, even if it satisfies the ultra-conservative faction of the GOP.
Last year, he signed Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which essentially would legalize discrimination against the LGBT community in Indiana. However, Pence, being completely out of step with the overarching culture surrounding LGBT rights in the U.S., seemed to be surprised by the immense public outcry that ensued.
Furthermore, the very same religious conservatives that Trump could stand to gain by putting Pence on the ticket have been very critical of the Governor’s willingness to ‘back down’ when RFRA fell under immense scrutiny.
Pence could undoubtedly further isolate moderate and progressive voters that have already grown frustrated with Trump’s campaign with this type of rhetoric — which extended into Pence’s lawsuit to prevent the resettlement of Syrian refugees in Indiana and the state’s most recent anti-abortion law.
The Governor’s blank slate could also prove to put the campaign at a disadvantage. While Christie and Gingrich have both had the opportunity to be under very public scrutiny, it is uncertain how Gov. Pence would react in the very same situation — can he withstand the pressure?