On Saturday, July 16th, Donald Trump made his most grand attempt yet to quiet the noise and clamor within a Republican Party that has continued to question his Conservative values by formally announcing his pick for a running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence.
This is, of course, the first big decision for the presumptive nominee and some are saying he should’ve gone with his gut. But most of the establishment Republicans appear to be breathing a sigh of relief. Many are choosing to see this as Trump grounding himself in Conservative principles and adopting the posture necessary to win in November.
As we approach the first day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland Monday evening, it seems the discussion is focused now on evaluating what Trump’s new running mate could mean for the campaign, the Republican Party, and moving forward in the race for The White House.
Here we have two men with separate worldviews, approaches, and even lifestyles, joining one another in an attempt to close the gap between the Conservative base and Trump’s newfound brand of populism. At this point, the question is: Does this hurt or help the Republicans’ chances in November?
I think it is important to note that Mike Pence is a relatively new name for most of the American public. He has had a few, mostly unflattering, moments in the national spotlight, but nothing that has seemed to find its way into any wider conversations—until now.
His record is solidly Conservative. He actively attempted to defund Planned Parenthood during his years in Congress, and his support for the Religious Freedom Restoration Act as Governor of Indiana allowed discrimination against the LGBTQ community.
These are just a few of the things that Trump’s staff seem to believe will help garner the support of the Evangelical portion of the Republican base. Pence has described himself as “a Christian, a Conservative, and a Republican — in that order.”
It is tough to tell exactly where Pence is going to really help Trump on issues concerning the public. If anything, the pick maybe simply intended to not draw any attention from the nominee himself. For Pence, who during his tenure in Congress, didn’t pass a single bill, this should be fine.
It is true that where Trump lacks experience and policy knowledge, Pence can pick up some of the slack, and he will help the Republican cause in strengthening their chances of taking Virginia (a state Republicans were likely to win already) in November. However, with Pence’s history of going after Planned Parenthood, and Trump already suffering from a lack of support from women voters, it is increasingly difficult to make sense of Pence’s addition to the ticket.
In fact, Trump and Pence have a history of disagreement that is already being exposed as a weakness very early in their relationship. For example, regarding Trump’s push for a ban on Muslims entering the United States, Pence has called this “unconstitutional.” The two also seem to be at odds on the issue of trade. Trump is against the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Pence has supported the idea.
It has been rumored that Trump’s heart wasn’t in the pick for Pence, even wondering if he could opt out of it up until the last minute. But, of course, Trump said that Pence was his “first choice” when announcing his choice.
It is safe to say, at this juncture, Trump’s choosing of Mike Pence is something of a safe option. House Speaker Paul Ryan seems to be on board. Ryan has mentioned that he is “a big fan” of Pence.
So, after a roll out more concerning Trump himself, and during which he candidly stated that the intention was to bring unity to the Republican Party, this odd couple will now have to find their way through the convention over these next few days, and move toward the test of the upcoming campaign trail. It is clear, Trump listened to his head (and his staff) and not his heart on this pick, but is it enough to quiet the noise and constant rumblings of doubt and lack of support in the Republican Party?
Well, the convention will be telling, and the following months will be even more illuminating. Whether or not these two have the ability to garner the support of the public and bring Republicans together for November will have to be seen.
As for the Democratic Party, I doubt this pick has anyone rethinking any plans moving forward. In fact, it could be that Trump going with a safe pick like Pence could allow Hillary Clinton to be more free with her choice and go with her gut.