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Reports: Pence Will Be Trump’s VP Choice

It appears that Trump will choose Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate:

Donald J. Trump’s campaign has signaled strongly to Republicans in Washington that he will pick Mike Pence, the governor of Indiana, as his running mate, though Republicans caution the party’s mercurial presidential candidate may still backtrack on his apparent choice.

While the campaign insists no decision has been made, Pence is clearly the best choice of the most likely candidates for the job. It is also the one that makes the most sense in an attempt to unify Republicans behind Trump, and represents more of a sop to movement conservatives than any of the other choices would have been. The VP nomination does give Pence a way out of a re-election fight that he was probably going to lose, but it comes at the cost of being identified with Trump from now on. The governor has reportedly calculated that this puts him in a stronger position for a future presidential run, but losing VP nominees don’t often get a chance to be on the top of the ticket in a later cycle.

The knock on Pence from social conservatives is that he caved to business pressure over the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The reason that he is struggling in his re-election bid is that he hasn’t otherwise been very successful as governor. He nonetheless remains a good choice for the position, especially when we consider that the most likely alternatives range from terrible (Gingrich) to crazy (Flynn). A Pence choice represents a victory for Trump’s political advisers, who were pushing to pick the governor rather than Gingrich. Gingrich was reportedly the favorite of Trump’s son-in-law and Sheldon Adelson, and it is mildly encouraging that they were rebuffed.

Assuming that the reports are correct, choosing Pence will be the most conventional and un-Trump-like move that the nominee has made all year. It is the safest and smartest choice Trump could make, and it doesn’t add any significant extra baggage to the ticket. Like any running mate selection, it isn’t going to change the race very much, but unlike picking Gingrich or Flynn it doesn’t do any damage.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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