Donald Trump’s campaign has signaled that tomorrow the candidate will announce his choice for VP, Indiana Governor Mike Pence. The pick is a nod toward conservatives in the party, and checks off many of Trump’s requirements for his choice, especially that the nominee have ample experience on Capitol Hill. Presumably Pence, in the event Trump wins the race, will be tasked with guiding Trump-inspired legislation through a Congress and Senate that have shown the candidate open antipathy at times.
The American Conservative’s Daniel Larison calls the pick “the safest and smartest choice Trump could make.” He writes:
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 Wall Street Journal indicates that Pence’s strong relationship with House Speaker Paul Ryan could be very helpful to a Trump administration.
Mr. Pence is more low-key and controlled, providing a kind of ballast that some Republicans think Mr. Trump needs to counter his provocative, unpredictable style.
Mr. Pence would also add to the GOP ticket someone with a close relationship with House Speaker Paul Ryan (R., Wis.). Mr. Pence arrived in the House in January 2001, two years after Mr. Ryan, and the two served together in the House for six sessions of Congress.
“It’s no secret I’m a big fan of Mike Pence’s—we’re very good friends,” Mr. Ryan told reporters Thursday. Mr. Ryan said he hoped Mr. Trump would pick “a good movement conservative. Clearly, Mike is one of those.”
National Review highlights that Pence and Trump don’t share very much common ground on their positions within the conservative movement.
Though Pence relished public, partisan combat during his time in Congress, he rarely veered from his staunch conservatism, once boasting that he was a tea partier before the Tea Party was cool. He is a devout Evangelical Catholic with the social-conservative record to match. And on immigration, he has favored something of a compromise position, arguing that illegal immigrants should return to their home countries and then enter the United States legally.
All of this of course situates him far from Trump on the ideological spectrum, but his allies say he nonetheless considers Trump preferable to the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton.
“I think his calculation would be that ‘Hillary Clinton would be a terrible choice for president and if there’s something I could do to prevent that, well, I’ll do it,’” says the longtime friend.
It bears mentioning that Pence and Trump probably have different views of the mission of the U.S. military, with Pence a traditional hawk (though not a “neocon” necessarily) and Trump showing less interest in foreign entanglements. Pence has been a staunch Israel supporter through his career, while Trump, who has a longtime relationship with Israel, has said certain things that are considered blasphemous by Pence-style Israel supporters. In Pence’s domestic and social approach, voters can see elements of paleoconservatism alongside evangelical Christian driven social conservatism.