Mike Pence: Trump’s Palin moment?

“I am pleased to announce that I have chosen Governor Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceTrump steps up attacks on 'Squad' after post-rally furor Trump is missing an opportunity in Hong Kong How China's currency manipulation cheats America on trade MORE as my Vice Presidential running mate,” tweeted presumptive nominee Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpUS-Saudi Arabia policy needs a dose of 'realpolitik' Trump talks to Swedish leader about rapper A$AP Rocky, offers to vouch for his bail Matt Gaetz ahead of Mueller hearing: 'We are going to reelect the president' MORE. Trump believes that the embattled Indiana Governor who – until the tweet – was fighting to remain in the Governor’s mansion will help him reach the White House. As a Trump supporter who is gay, it looks to be his Palin moment.

Even as Trump put his announcement on hold out of respect to the Nice terror attacks, even the man himself was reported to be experiencing buyer’s remorse with Pence. Dana Bash, in a tweet, reported that on Thursday night Trump was trying to mark Pence return to sender. Trump’s campaign denied the accusation and Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort spent Sunday trying to convince Trump supporters – and Americans – that a career politician who is a cog in the machine Trump is dismantling will appeal to voters across the spectrum. Selling Pence, however, may be tougher than selling Trump steaks.

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What does Pence bring to the table? What can Pence do to elevate the Trump campaign? If we are being honest, the answer is nothing.

First, the idea that Trump needed an Evangelical is laughable. If the Trump camp believed this, it was in error. Trump dominated the Bible Belt – a reality that handed him the nomination. In fact, Trump nearly amassed 50% of the vote in my home state of Mississippi – the Bible Belt’s buckle.

Second, Evangelicals fell out of love with Pence after they saw his see-saw conservatism at work when Indiana passed a Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The bill – which some claim permitted business to deny the LGBT community services – created an instant back lash.

The LGBT community – the very community Trump has made overtures to – saw the bill a license to discriminate. The biggest critics, though, came from a business community that threatened to pull out of Indiana.

As soon as the tide shifted, so did Pence. The governor went from signing the bill to sending it back to the state house for lawmakers for a mulligan. Pence wanted clear protections against discrimination. He got them in the form of a watered-down bill that pleased nobody.

“There will be some who think this legislation goes too far and some who think it does not go far enough,” Pence said. Pence was right, he alienated everyone and has suffered ever since.

Professor Robert George said Pence’s had a “pathetic performance” in handling the RFRA debate. Pence cultural capitulation was viewed as an unforgivable by the Right. I should know, I worked on the Right and know how unforgiving they are to “double crossing” candidates.

It is for this reason Pence is loathed by liberals, questioned by conservatives, and unattractive to Independents. If Trump wanted a white male Omarosa, he got one.

In picking Pence, Trump appears to have had a Palin moment. Where the former Alaskan governor was brought in to appease leery conservatives stale quick, Pence is being used to appease a leery establishment. This appeasement, though, will limit Trump’s ability to grow the GOP.

I have worked to convince LGBT Americans that Trump deserved a second look. It is why I created LGBTrump – a Facebook page for LGBT Trump supporters. My argument was clear – Trump’s policies would benefit LGBT families and individuals. His tax plans would help them raise families, his trade plans would help them find jobs, and his foreign policy would keep them safe.

For months the group had an active following of just over 100 members. When the horrific act of terror stuck Orlando, this number changed. The group went from 150 to just over 3,000 today. The LGBT community was giving Trump a second look – a look he earned in responding to the attack.

Now many in the LGBT community are unhappy because of the Pence pick. This will only intensify as the media brands Pence as an anti-LGBT cultural warrior. But is such branding true?

When it comes to the LGBT two-step, Pence is not different than Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonMatt Gaetz ahead of Mueller hearing: 'We are going to reelect the president' What to expect when Mueller testifies: Not much McConnell challenger faces tougher path after rocky launch MORE. Yes he signed a law and buckled under pressure. Did not Hillary do the same thing when she declared marriage was between a man and a woman only to come out for marriage equality when its inevitability was all but certain?

That, however, is not why we should be mad at the Pence decision. The reasons are much larger than LGBT issues.

The LGBT community – and all Trump supporters – should be mad because Trump chose to appease those he has successfully fought. Pence is the man who endorsed Ted Cruz. Pence – at a time of war – called Trump’s Muslim migration plan offensive. Pence will inhibit Trump’s insurgent momentum.

Trump had his Palin moment. We can only hope it does not because his Thelma & Louise moment.


Joseph R. Murray II, is the administrator for LGBTrump, a former campaign official for Pat Buchanan, and the author of “Odd Man Out”. He can be reached at jrm@joemurrayenterprises.com.