- - Wednesday, July 27, 2016


Whenever I talk to conservatives across the country about the presidential election, a common refrain is that they find Donald Trump refreshing in many ways. They like that he eschews political correctness and promises to stand up for ordinary Americans against the elites. But they are concerned that he has never before held elected office and wonder whether he’d enact conservative policies if he becomes president.

With his selection of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate, Mr. Trump went a long way to assuaging those concerns.

Mr. Pence showed why he was the right choice Wednesday with a stellar speech at the Republican National Convention in which he melded Reagan conservatism with economic populism. He labeled Hillary Clinton as America’s secretary of the status quo and defended Americans’ God-given liberties, including the sanctity of life.

Mr. Pence showed that he committed to the Republican Party’s ideas and ideals. He spent 12 years in the House of Representatives and accumulated one of the most conservative records in Congress.

He rose to chairman of the Republican Conference. In that position, he helped shape the party’s message after heavy losses in the 2008 election, leading Republicans as they took back the House in 2010.

Once elected, Mr. Pence will be invaluable in helping Mr. Trump work with Congress. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan have stated that they think Mr. Pence was an excellent choice.

As governor of Indiana, Mr. Pence has presided over a post-recession economic recovery, championed tax cuts and sped up the elimination of the state’s inheritance tax.

Mr. Pence is a Reagan conservative — a champion of lower taxes, less regulation and a smaller overall federal government. He supports a strong military and has been a stalwart defender of traditional values.

But Mr. Pence has his priorities in order. He often describes himself as a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order.

The importance of that order has been on display several times during his career. As governor, he stood up to the media and the intolerant left in signing a religious liberty law. And while in Congress, he defied his party by opposing expensive programs like No Child Left Behind and a Medicare prescription drug benefit.

The Clinton campaign and its media allies will no doubt attempt to portray Mr. Pence as divisive and out of step with America. The New York Times has already run a piece headlined, “Mike Pence: A conservative proudly out of sync with his times.”

But it’s more accurate to say that Mr. Pence is out of sync with The Times, as in America’s elites and the liberal media.

Mr. Pence personifies the values of middle America. “I’m going to take Hoosier ideals to Washington, D.C.,” he said at his press conference last week.

His presence in the race will encourage Main Street America. For too long, their interests have been ignored by the elites in charge of government who put their interests above the country’s interests. (Full disclosure, Mr. Pence and I are close friends and my son, Zack, works on his staff.)

Mr. Pence’s greatest professional qualities are his patience, his discipline and his collegiality. He gets along with others very well, including those on the other side of the political aisle. As talk show host Hugh Hewitt has written: “You have to work hard not to like Mike Pence. Which is why while in Congress his conservative colleagues made him the chair of the Republican Study Group, where the Reaganauts have always gathered, and then the entire Republican caucus — middle, center-right and movement conservatives all — elected him to chair their conference. These jobs do not go either to the ideologically ambiguous in the case of the former or to off-putting self-promoters in the case of the latter. They go to work horses who understand both principles and collegiality. That’s Mike Pence.”

Mr. Pence is also an important spokesperson for the weak and vulnerable. Earlier this year, he signed a bill making it illegal to abort babies on the basis of a disability. At the signing ceremony, he said, “A society can be judged by how it deals with its most vulnerable — the aged, the infirm, the disabled and the unborn.” Mr. Pence has also led the way in trying to ban taxpayer funds to pay for Planned Parenthood, America’s largest abortion business.

In choosing Mr. Pence, Donald Trump has sent a very important signal about the kind of people he will appoint to his government — thoughtful, careful, capable, with a track record of success. As if often said, personnel is policy. In choosing Mr. Pence, Mr. Trump indicates that while he has a style that entertains as it informs, he is interested in a team capable of doing the hard work of governing.

And I am thrilled that Mr. Pence will be in the Oval Office offering advice to the president on the selection of future Supreme Court nominees and other critical appointments.

Perhaps most important, Mr. Pence is a devoted family man who’s been married to his wife, Karen, for 31 years. He is the proud father of a college student, a graduate turned-writer and a U.S. Marine. And, as Mr. Trump said when he and Mr. Pence appeared for the first time as a team, Mr. Pence is a “man of honor, character and honesty.”

Those are exactly the qualities needed to fix a broken system in Washington. And they’re also the qualities necessary for Republicans to prevail on Election Day.

Former presidential candidate Gary Bauer is chairman of the Campaign for Working Families.

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