Staunch Conservative Mike Pence to Be Trump's Running Mate

The Indianapolis Star reports that Indiana Gov. Mike Pence will drop his re-election bid and assume the role of Donald Trump’s vice presidential candidate, according to sources familiar with the Republican frontrunner’s decision.

The reports come after weeks of speculation over who Trump will choose as his running mate; his campaign vetted a number of high-profile Republicans—including Newt Gingrich and Chris Christie—in a series of meet-and-greets and campaign rallies designed to test the potential running mate’s viability.

The Trump campaign was quick to insist the candidate has not yet made a formal decision, but Trump campaign officials did not dispute questions posed by the Washington Post about Pence’s likely role in the upcoming election.

Pence, who previously supported Ted Cruz, is a hard-lined Christian conservative, representing the rank-and-file Republican coalition that’s found little representation in Trump’s more populist brand of conservatism. The Indiana governor signed the 2015 “religious freedom” law which, according to critics, effectively allows businesses to ban LGBT customers under the guise of “religious freedom.” Earlier this year,  he signed a bill making it illegal to for women to seek an abortion based on race, gender, or disability of the fetus; the Indiana Supreme Court eventually blocked that law from taking effect.

Trump’s likely running mate apparently shares Trump’s anti-immigration attitudes. He suspended the relocation of Syrian refugees in Indiana and voted in favor of a fence along the Mexican border. But he does part ways with Trump on some issues; in December of last year, Pence criticized his future running mate’s call to ban all Muslims from entering the United Sates, tweeting “Calls to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. are offensive and unconstitutional.”

Pence, who once called himself "Rush Limbaugh on decaf,” is a political and strategic pick for the Republican candidate, whose ostentatious demeanor has alienated prominent social conservatives throughout the campaign. In Pence, Trump found a running mate who can reach out to the party’s hard right constituents, bringing a sense of seriousness to a campaign largely characterized by demeaning rhetoric and hyperbolic claims. 

“It’s no secret I’m a big fan of Mike Pence’s,” Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and tepid supporter of Trump told the New York Times. “We’re very good friends. I have very high regard for him. I hope that he picks a good movement conservative. Clearly Mike is one of those.”

Trump, whose heralded himself as a party outsider throughout his campaign, finally made a nod to the establishment. Looks like politics as usual, after all.

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