US Elections 2016

Soft-spoken governor picked as Trump's V-P

Mr Donald Trump and Indiana Governor Mike Pence attending a rally in the state on Tuesday. The presumptive Republican presidential nominee has chosen Mr Pence as his running mate, a choice seen as "safe" by analysts.
Mr Donald Trump and Indiana Governor Mike Pence attending a rally in the state on Tuesday. The presumptive Republican presidential nominee has chosen Mr Pence as his running mate, a choice seen as "safe" by analysts.PHOTO: REUTERS

Conservative Mike Pence will add governing and policymaking experience to the ticket

Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump has chosen Indiana Governor Mike Pence as his running mate, in a move that experts say should help bring some calm to the volatile tycoon's campaign.

Mr Trump made the announcement on his Twitter page yesterday. "I am pleased to announce that I have chosen Governor Mike Pence as my vice-presidential running mate," he said.

Mr Trump said he will hold a news conference today on his decision. He had postponed the event, originally scheduled for yesterday, because of the terror attack in Nice, France.

US media outlets including the Wall Street Journal and ABC News had earlier reported that Mr Trump had offered Mr Pence the job and that the soft-spoken 57-year-old had accepted it.

The decision brings to a close an unusually public and frantic search that in the final days came down to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Mr Pence.

In the weeks that preceded the decision, many high-profile names were added, then removed, either because they did not make the cut or because they made it clear they did not want the job. Ohio Governor John Kasich, Iowa Senator Joni Ernst and former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice reportedly took themselves out of the running.

Of the final three, observers agreed that Mr Pence made the most sense for Mr Trump.

"Pence may be the safest pick for Trump," wrote University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato. "Christie would have doubled down on Trump's personality but wouldn't have helped much with the base... Gingrich wowed Republicans in the 2012 cycle with his stage presence and anti-media attack-dog mindset, but he is gaffe-prone and might have chased the spotlight more than Trump wanted."

Mr Pence, who was in the US House of Representatives for 12 years before becoming a governor, adds governing and policymaking experience that Mr Trump lacks.

As Governor of Indiana, he oversaw its strong economic recovery. During his time in Congress, Mr Pence rose to chair the House Republican Conference, becoming the third most powerful Republican in the chamber.

He was well-liked by Republicans and became known as a principled conservative - traits that would mark an upgrade of the Republican ticket in the eyes of party leaders. After all, there are right-wing factions in the party who still worry Mr Trump is not a true conservative.

"I'm a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order," is one of Mr Pence's most famous quotes.

Still, he is far from a perfect vice-presidential pick for Mr Trump. For one thing, the even-tempered career politician is unlikely to be able to excite Republicans.

His ability to defend Mr Trump is also suspect, given that he opposes the tycoon's proposed Muslim ban and backs the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade deal that Mr Trump frequently dismisses.

And while Mr Trump is known for insulting his rivals, the Indiana Governor has publicly sworn off negative campaigning.

"I think negative personal attacks have no place in elective politics," he said during his run for governor in 2012. "It's wrong to use one's brief moment in a political debate to talk about what's wrong with your opponent, as opposed to what's right with your ideas."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 16, 2016, with the headline 'Soft-spoken governor picked as Trump's V-P'. Print Edition | Subscribe