By Bonnie K. Goodman
The worst kept secret in the 2016 presidential campaign is no longer a secret. On Friday morning, July 15, 2016, presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump announced via Twitter that he chose Indiana Governor Mike Pence as his vice presidential running mate. Trump was supposed to make the formal announcement at a press conference in New York Friday morning. After the terror attacks in Nice, France on Bastille Day that killed over 80 people, Trump postponed the formal declaration until Saturday morning same time and place, 11 a.m. Trump Tower, New York City.
On Friday morning, Trump made his decision official ending a day of rampant speculation in the news media about his choice of running mate. The GOP nominee wrote, “I am pleased to announce that I have chosen Governor Mike Pence as my Vice Presidential running mate. News conference tomorrow at 11:00 A.M.”
On Thursday afternoon, July 14, the news media was already announcing that Trump chose the Indiana Governor. Pence emerged as the frontrunner from a pool of four candidates, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and Alabama Rep. Jeff Sessions.
CNN reported late Thursday afternoon; that Trump had phone Pence offering him the post and Pence agreed. Later Pence was seen arriving in New Jersey with a police detail accompanying him. Even the Indianapolis Star reported that Pence decided to be Trump’s running mate forgoing running for re-election as Indiana’s Governor, withdrawing from that race, as the law does not permit him to do both.
Trump’s campaign, however, kept denying that the nominee chose Pence. Trump added fuel with his Fox News interview with Greta Van Susteren Thursday evening. Trump said, “I haven’t made my final, final decision. I mean, I’ve got three people that are fantastic. I think Newt (Gingrich) is a fantastic person. I think Chris Christie is a fantastic person, been a friend of mine for 15 years. Just a fantastic person. And there’s Mike, and Mike has done a great job as governor of Indiana. You look at the numbers, and it’s been great — he’s done really a fantastic job. But I haven’t made a final, final decision.”
With Pence, Trump pleases the GOP establishment, who has been reticent about the nominee and reluctant to support him. Trump is hoping to unify the party with his VP choice, a social and fiscal conservative, with experience in the House of Representatives and executive experience governing Indiana for one term. Pence has the support of the Tea Party, as well as influential donors including the Koch brother, who Trump needs in the general election, and have not yet supported his nomination.
Although Pence differed with Trump on policy during the primary opposing his Muslim ban and endorsing rival Texas Senator Ted Cruz before Indiana’s May primary, Trump won him over, with Pence praising him and vowing to help the nominee will the election in November. Pence emerged as the frontrunner this week after a rally on Tuesday, July 12, in Indiana, where the governor introduced Trump and fiercely criticized presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton declaring she “must never become president of the United States.”
Recently, Pence praised Trump to reporters, telling them, “I think he is going to be a great president. I think he is someone who has connected with everyday Americans like no one since Ronald Reagan. I think he has spoken into the frustration and the longings of the American people as no one since the 40th president, and I think you’re going to continue to see him do that.” Trump and Pence will be formally nominated as the party’s official nominees at next week’s Republican National Convention.