- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 13, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Donald Trump tweeted his vice presidential pick of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence on Friday, with a full press conference to follow on Saturday. Here are the pros and cons of the Pence pick:

Pros

Solidify the base: Mr. Pence has described himself as Christian, conservative and Republican, in that order. For those within the GOP skeptical of whether Mr. Trump is any of those things, a Pence pick would go far. Evangelicals are a key voting bloc and grass-roots organizer in any GOP primary, and Mr. Trump needs them to help proselytize his candidacy in order to have a chance in November.

Experience: Mr. Pence brings congressional and governing experience to Mr. Trump’s outsider ticket. Mr. Pence has served 12 years in Congress and can work with legislators on Capitol Hill to bridge the gap between House Speaker Paul Ryan’s policies and Mr. Trump’s agenda. It’s a solid, serious pick — someone who could be president on day one.

Record of conservatism: Mr. Pence has stood up for limited government even when it wasn’t popular among Republicans. He voted against George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind educational act as a congressman, and the expansion of Medicare Part D prescription drug program. As a governor, he’s cut taxes and expanded school choice.

Rust Belt: Mr. Trump’s path to the White House will go through the Rust Belt, and Mr. Pence is one of their own. His Midwestern style could help Mr. Trump further his appeal in this area.

Blank slate: Unlike former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, the other potential vice presidential picks, Mr. Pence is largely unknown and liked. According to a Bloomberg News poll released this week, only one in four college-educated voters are familiar with Mr. Pence. Mr. Gingrich and Mr. Christie, on the other hand, are known and viewed negatively by six in 10 college-educated whites. This is a demographic Mitt Romney won in 2012 and Mr. Trump needs to win, but is currently trailing Hillary Clinton in the polls.

Deliberative: Mr. Pence, unlike Mr. Trump, is known for his deliberative, polite style — he’s not as bombastic or off-the-cuff as the presumed GOP presidential nominee.

Cons

Muslim ban: Mr. Pence strongly opposed Mr. Trump’s proposed ban on Muslim immigrants, calling the policy “offensive and unconstitutional” in December. The press will hound Mr. Pence every day on how he can square these opinions with being Mr. Trump’s running mate.

Nationally untested: Unlike Mr. Gingrich and Mr. Christie, who have been dealing with the national media for years, Mr. Pence has largely avoid the spotlight and the press scrutiny. When Mr. Pence comes under fire — which he undoubtedly will — it’s unknown whether he can withstand the pressure and push back. Mr. Gingrich and Mr. Christie have shown they can put the liberal media in their place.

Fighter: A large part of the vice president’s job is to go on the attack, and the laid-back Mr. Pence may not be the attack dog Mr. Trump is looking for. However, during a rally Tuesday night with Mr. Trump, Mr. Pence was uncharacteristically fiery, telling the crowd Mrs. Clinton was “unqualified” for the presidency after the Benghazi attack. Perhaps the stakes in this election are so high for Mr. Pence, he’s ready to enter the trenches for Mr. Trump.

Religious Liberty: Some social conservatives are critical of Mr. Pence for surrendering on a religious liberty bill he signed into law last year. After the liberal media and elites started lashing out against his bill — which allowed businesses the right not to serve same-sex weddings — Mr. Pence revised the law, making it more limiting when it came to businesses serving gays. As a result, both conservatives and liberals were upset with him.

Cruz: Before the Indiana Republican primary, Mr. Pence gave a rather halfhearted endorsement to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

“I’m not against anybody, but I will be voting for Ted Cruz in the upcoming Republican primary,” Mr. Pence said on a local Indiana radio station. “I urge everyone to make up their own mind.”

It’s unknown whether anybody on the Trump side — either organizationally or his supporters — will hold this against him.

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