- - Thursday, July 14, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Unless he changed his mind overnight — and “Surprise” and “Unpredictability” are his middle names — Donald Trump finally picked his running mate and by all accounts it’s a good one. Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana is the real goods.

The two men apparently sealed the deal in early July at the Donald’s golf resort in New Jersey and “smoothed the lumps” over dinner at the governor’s mansion in Indianapolis this week.

Mr. Trump was said to have been impressed by the governor’s ease and calm demeanor (the Donald might get a few pointers) and his experience on Capitol Hill (where the Donald has none). He could give President Trump, if there is one, and the auguries seem to be improving as the public pays ever closer attention to Hillary Clinton, needed help in governing. The vice president is more important than a veep used to be. Someone else can go to the funerals.

Mr. Pence, 57, served 12 years in the House of Representatives, becoming No. 3 in the Republican leadership, after the speaker and the majority leader, before he left Washington four years ago to return to the heartland to win a close race for governor in Indiana.

Gov. Pence has been a conservative’s conservative as the governor of a moderately but reliably Republican state. He won enactment of a religious liberty law and then agreed to modify it to make sure and double sure that gays and others of uncertain sexuality wouldn’t be discriminated against. This year he won enactment of a new law that would restrict abortions sought solely for objections to the baby’s race, sex or physical disability.

Roll Call, the Capitol Hill daily, first reported Mr. Trump’s choice on Thursday, citing its own sources, and then the Indianapolis Star reported that Mr. Pence had suspended his race for re-election as governor. The Trump campaign’s coy insistence that there would be no announcement until Friday was rendered irrelevant. The response was quick and unanimously favorable.

Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, who endorsed Mr. Trump months ago, the first Republican senator to do so and remains a close confidant, wouldn’t confirm the choice but said Mr. Trump was “enthusiastic” about the decision that was no longer a mystery. “He was into it. He had great analysis. I think he’s made a good decision, both for him personally and for his campaign.”

Even some Republicans who had been in a pout since Mr. Trump sealed the nomination said nice and supportive things. “It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Mike Pence,” says House Speaker Paul D. Ryan. Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, the Republican majority leader in the House, called Mr. Pence “a real add” to the ticket.

“He’s experienced in the House. His ability to communicate, being a governor, the executive understanding of how to run a state — that’s a very good combination.”

Indeed, Mike Pence has the two qualities most needed for a presidential candidate, and a vice presidential candidate must have a president’s qualifications. Such a candidate must have experience in Congress, having learned how Washington politics works, and have experience as a governor, understanding how an executive works, and how the states work in the federal system. A president with only half of this needed experience, as we have seen over the past eight years, will nearly always spell trouble and disappointment.

The Pence choice, so pleasing to so many Republicans, will give Donald Trump fresh momentum as the campaign moves to Cleveland and the Republican National Convention. The Donald has had a very good week (in so small part due to Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s gift of goofiness), and if tradition holds, convention week should give him a running start toward November.

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