Opinion

The pulse on Mike Pence . . .

In this July 13, 2016 file photo, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump leaves the Indiana Governor's residence with Gov. Mike Pence in Indianapolis. Trump has chosen Pence as his running mate, adding political experience and conservative bona fides to his Republican presidential ticket. (AP)
In this July 13, 2016 file photo, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump leaves the Indiana Governor's residence with Gov. Mike Pence in Indianapolis. Trump has chosen Pence as his running mate, adding political experience and conservative bona fides to his Republican presidential ticket. (AP) AP

Mike Pence’s hypocritical decision to run with Trump

As a conservative crusader, Mike Pence is an incongruous match for the ideologically flexible Donald Trump, who employed Twitter to name the Republican Indiana governor as his running mate Friday. Then again, anyone with a halfway-respectable record in public office would have been an odd partner.

Perhaps Trump can relate to Pence's time in show business: The governor was a radio host in the 1990s before winning election to the House in 2000. Though Pence is reportedly more easygoing than Trump, he has a bit of Trump's penchant for the bizarre, as when he claimed in a magazine commentary that "smoking doesn't kill."

But it is likely that Trump chose Pence because the Hoosier is a more likeable version of Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Trump's vanquished adversary, whom Pence endorsed in the Indiana GOP primary. During his 12 years in Congress, Pence built up a reserve of credibility with movement conservatives and tea party types. He chaired the conservative Republican Study Committee and mounted one of the many right-wing campaigns to unseat Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, as the leader of House Republicans. Boehner later co-opted Pence by appointing him to the House leadership. Now Trump seems to be attempting a similar maneuver — neutralizing complaints from conservative true-believers by bringing one of their own into the fold.

Pence's policy record suggests he will indeed appeal to right-wing voters — but perhaps not many others. He waged war against Planned Parenthood while in Congress, saying in 2011 that he was willing to shut down the government in order to defund the organization. A staunch opponent of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, he favored a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union of a man and a woman. He pressed for a constitutional amendment that would cap federal spending at 20 percent of the economy, which would badly hamstring the government as baby boomers begin drawing retirement benefits. He also voted for and defended free-trade deals of the sort Trump has inaccurately blamed for hollowing out the economy.

Washington Post

GOP ‘Mad Men’ platform trumps Pence VP choice

Donald Trump's decision on Friday to name Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate after a week of visiting candidates and their loved ones (like those late-season hometown episodes of “The Bachelor”) triggered the usual kind of instant analysis vice presidential picks get. One could hear the collective sigh of relief from Republican leadership on Capitol Hill as far away as the Inner Harbor — Governor Pence is one of them. Hurrah for them.

But for all the attention paid to the No. 2 post — and let's face it, with such strong personalities on the top of the ticket this year, Democratic and Republican, that selection has probably never been less relevant to the general public — easily lost is another major decision. It may not have received nearly as much attention as the veep stakes, but the GOP has been crafting a party platform in advance of their national convention this week in Cleveland, and it's a doozy.

It's one thing for Mr. Trump to choose a fellow middle-aged white male (albeit a blander, less vulgar version than himself) for his ticket, it's another to accept a platform that appears just as lifted out of the “Mad Men” era. The authors clearly haven't witnessed any social change of the last decade or more they wouldn't want reversed. So much for that 2012 post-Mitt Romney view that the Republican Party needs to broaden its base and appeal to minority and non-traditional voters.

The Baltimore Sun

Trump's party is bound to the religious right

Once again, 2016 is making us rewrite the political rulebooks. We learned in May that you can win the Republican presidential nomination while saying that the Iraq war was based on a lie and praising socialized medicine. Now we're seeing that you can get the vice-presidential nomination by being a red-state governor so politically weak that your endorsement doesn't matter in your own state's presidential primary and you are at risk of losing re-election.

Weakness may even have been a recommendation for Mike Pence, the governor of Indiana and Trump's pick. He meets what is probably an important Trump criterion for a running mate: He will not overshadow the boss. Newt Gingrich, who was also under consideration, is an interesting figure in his own right. Pence won't draw the same attention Gingrich would have. Political weakness also made Pence interested in taking the job. It's no accident that Trump's reported list contained no one with a thriving political career.

Pence's selection also shows that social conservatives remain a powerful force within the Republican Party.

Ramesh Ponnuru, Bloomberg View

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