Trump aims to win over GOP with Pence pick

Trump aims to win over GOP with Pence pick
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By tapping Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate, Donald TrumpDonald TrumpMeghan McCain: Democrats 'should give a little credit' to Trump for COVID-19 vaccine Trump testing czar warns lockdowns may be on table if people don't get vaccinated Overnight Health Care: CDC details Massachusetts outbreak that sparked mask update | White House says national vaccine mandate 'not under consideration at this time' MORE is aiming to assuage concerns about his presidential bid among skeptical grassroots conservatives and establishment Republicans alike.

Pence is an evangelical Christian and staunch social and fiscal conservative who spent a dozen years on Capitol Hill before winning the governor’s mansion in 2012.


The 57-year-old father of three brings executive experience, crucial Washington relationships, foreign policy chops and conservative bona fides to a GOP ticket that had been severely lacking in those areas.

“He was a very successful member of Congress, a great governor and would really excite the conservative part of the party,” said House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzCongress's latest hacking investigation should model its most recent Fox News Audio expands stable of podcasts by adding five new shows The myth of the conservative bestseller MORE (R-Utah), who served a couple terms with Pence and initially backed Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioBreak glass in case of emergency — but not for climate change Democrats join GOP in pressuring Biden over China, virus origins Senators introduce bipartisan bill to expand foreign aid partnerships MORE in the GOP primary. Chaffetz is skipping next week’s party convention to attend an overseas trip.  

“To have one of our own on the ticket would be heaven-sent,” he said. “Mike Pence understands the House. He’s a rock-solid conservative, and that would go a long way with a lot of people.”

Trump will formally announce his VP pick at 11 a.m. Friday, just hours before a deadline in which the Indiana governor needs to notify the state as to whether he is seeking election to a second term.

A former conservative talk radio host, Pence won election to the House in 2000, less than a year before the 9/11 terrorist attacks that struck Washington and New York. He traveled to Iraq, Afghanistan and other global hotspots as a longtime member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.  

The ambitious politician later won the chairmanship of the influential conservative Republican Study Committee, the party’s largest caucus on Capitol Hill.

In late 2006, Pence tried to use that platform to challenge Rep. John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerGOP up in arms over Cheney, Kinzinger Freedom Caucus presses McCarthy to force vote to oust Pelosi Stripping opportunity from DC's children MORE (R-Ohio) for minority leader, the top post in the House GOP conference that year. BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerGOP up in arms over Cheney, Kinzinger Freedom Caucus presses McCarthy to force vote to oust Pelosi Stripping opportunity from DC's children MORE trounced Pence 168 to 27, but Pence would go on to win election to the No. 3 leadership post, GOP conference chairman, a few years later.

Trump surrogates on Capitol Hill said the Pence pick is indicative of the type of qualified and experienced individuals he would fill his Cabinet and administration with. As vice president, Pence would be able to help Trump navigate Capitol Hill but also Washington’s relationship with states.

“It just shows that Donald Trump has made two very good presidential decisions — one when he came out with his list for the Supreme Court, and now his pick for vice president,” said Rep. Lou BarlettaLouis (Lou) James BarlettaThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden wants Congress to pass abortion bill, pushes for Mideast cease-fire Ex-GOP Rep. Lou Barletta launches bid for Pennsylvania governor Republicans vie for Trump's mantle in Pa. Senate primary MORE (R-Pa.), an early Trump backer who attended a pro-Trump meeting on the Hill Thursday morning. “And I think this signifies what kind of administration and team he will put together.

“This should lay to rest any fears of what Donald Trump will do when he gets to Washington. He’s going to surround himself with the best people he can find.”

Trump, who won the crowded GOP primary race in his first bid for public office, appears to have steadied his campaign after a series of high-profile blunders that unnerved GOP elites in Washington and around the country.

The Manhattan billionaire businessman was roundly condemned by party leaders after proposing to ban Muslims from entering the United States, for encouraging violence at some of his campaign rallies, for attacking the Mexican-American heritage of a federal judge, and for tweeting what appeared to be anti-Semitic images.

Other distractions harmed his campaign as well. Trump fired his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, months after his top aide was arrested for battery after grabbing the arm of a female reporter at a Trump event.

And during a meeting with GOP senators last week, one focused on uniting the party before Cleveland, Trump tangled with Sen. Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsWant to evaluate Donald Trump's judgment? Listen to Donald Trump Democrat stalls Biden's border nominee Garland strikes down Trump-era immigration court rule, empowering judges to pause cases MORE (R-Ariz.), called Sen. Mark KirkMark Steven KirkDuckworth announces reelection bid Brave new world: Why we need a Senate Human Rights Commission  Senate majority battle snags Biden Cabinet hopefuls MORE (R-Ill.) a loser, and bashed Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.). All three senators have been highly critical of Trump.

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanRealClearPolitics reporter says Freedom Caucus shows how much GOP changed under Trump Juan Williams: Biden's child tax credit is a game-changer Trump clash ahead: Ron DeSantis positions himself as GOP's future in a direct-mail piece MORE (R-Wis.) has publicly rebuked Trump as well whenever he’s made inflammatory statements. He gave a speech aimed at Trump calling for more civility in the election process, and refused to immediately endorse the real estate tycoon and reality TV star after he had locked up the nomination.

Ryan, the chairman of the GOP convention, eventually came around to Trump, saying he’d be a better partner than Democrat Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonClintons, Stacey Abrams meeting Texas Democrats Biden says Russia spreading misinformation ahead of 2022 elections Highest-ranking GOP assemblyman in WI against another audit of 2020 vote MORE. But the Speaker has never been an enthusiastic supporter of Trump.

Speaking to reporters at the Capitol Thursday, however, Ryan was effusive in his praise of Pence.

“It's no secret: I'm a big fan of Mike Pence's. We're very good friends. I have very high regard for him,” Ryan said shortly before the Pence news broke. “I hope that he picks a good movement conservative. Clearly Mike is one of those.”

During his tenure in the House, Pence burnished his credentials as a fiscal and social conservative. He railed against the Wall Street and auto bailouts, and backed legislation defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

Leading the Hoosier State last year, Pence sparked a national firestorm by signing “religious freedom” legislation that civil-rights activists and some businesses warned could allow discrimination against the LGBT community. Pence was forced to revise the law after major corporations threatened to pull their business out of the state.

Pence is a “great pick,” Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), a co-founder of the far-right House Freedom Caucus, told The Hill. “He would guarantee that conservatives have a major presence in the Trump administration.”