Donald Trump Makes It Official, Mike Pence Is His Running Mate

The least likely choice ascends to the Number Two position on the Republican ticket.

Donald Trump Mike Pence

After delaying the announcement that had been planned in the wake of the truck attack in Nice, Donald Trump formally announced late this morning that he had selected Indiana Governor Mike Pence as his running mate:

Donald J. Trump named Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana as his running mate on Friday, adding to the Republican ticket a traditional conservative who boasts strong credentials with the Christian right, and bringing an end to a vice presidential selection process that seemed at risk of spinning out of control.

Mr. Trump announced the choice shortly before 11 a.m., the time at which he had planned to unveil his selection at an event in Manhattan.

But instead of a showy rollout in a Midtown hotel, Mr. Trump named Mr. Pence as his running mate on Twitter, after abruptly canceling their joint event in the aftermath of the attack in Nice, France, on Thursday evening.

By choosing Mr. Pence as his partner, Mr. Trump has opted both to bow to political convention and also to gamble on a comparatively untested choice. Mr. Pence cuts a far more generic political profile than Mr. Trump; he is viewed by Republicans in Washington and Indiana as a sturdy and predictable politician.

At the same time, Mr. Pence has a record of hard-line views on cultural issues that Mr. Trump has tended to downplay in the presidential race. In Mr. Pence, Mr. Trump now has a running mate who has advocated for defunding Planned Parenthood and restricting abortion rights, and who signed a religious freedom law that critics said would lead to discrimination against gays and lesbians.

Mr. Trump and Mr. Pence, who have no personal friendship that predates the campaign, are expected to appear together in public on Saturday. The Trump campaign previously committed to a joint interview on the CBS show “60 Minutes.”

Mr. Trump had previously said he considered the circumstances on Friday inopportune for rolling out a major political decision, before reversing course and naming Mr. Pence as his running mate on social media.

Even on Thursday evening, however, with images of bloodshed playing across national television, Mr. Trump did not pause his own political schedule: He addressed a fund-raising event in California and gave multiple television interviews, calling in one for a formal declaration of war by Congress against the Islamic State.

Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman, said on Fox News on Friday morning that the presumptive Republican nominee had responded emotionally to the violence in France in deciding to delay a formal event with his running mate.

Yet with Mr. Pence as the favored candidate, Mr. Trump could not afford a long delay in making his decision public. The Indiana governorship is on the ballot in November, and state law required Mr. Pence to file paperwork by noon on Friday in order to withdraw from the race and be replaced on the ballot by another Republican.

Without a public affirmation of his partnership with Mr. Trump, Mr. Pence could have been placed in an uncomfortable position – forced either to end his bid for re-election without an irreversible commitment from Mr. Trump, or to abandon his quest for the vice presidency due to an accident of scheduling.0

Mr. Trump appeared to hesitate over his decision throughout the week, flying to Indiana for an extended visit with Mr. Pence, and then summoning several other potential running mates to meet with him in Indianapolis after his private aircraft broke down.

Advisers to Mr. Trump indicated to Republicans in Washington on Wednesday night that they planned to make an announcement with Mr. Pence, but on Thursday both Mr. Trump and his press officers stressed that he could still change his mind. Mr. Trump said Thursday evening on Fox that he had not made a “final, final decision.”

With his bid for national office, Mr. Pence is expected to become the first Indiana governor to pull his name from the ballot and be replaced by another candidate, who will be selected by the Indiana Republican Party.

The Washington Post’s Dan Balz calls the selection of Pence a conventional choice by an unconventional candidate:

Donald Trump did something uncharacteristic in selecting Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his vice presidential running mate. He has chosen the safe course over flashier but more risky alternatives. The question is whether the decision is an aberration or represents an important change in his candidacy going forward.

For weeks, Trump has been in a tug of war between his own instincts and the advice of some of his advisers, inside and outside his campaign. Those advisers have urged him to tone it down, to deal with questions about his temperament by acting and sounding more presidential than the candidate who churned through the primaries by doing the opposite.

He has prided himself on being unconventional and unpredictable, and against much advice for many months, has always reverted to form. He’s thumbed his nose at those who have tried to turn him into something he hasn’t wanted to be. From where he sits, he can say that he beat all the expert strategists and the professional politicians. Why change for the general election?

But by choosing Pence over former House speaker Newt Gingrich and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, he has embraced the thinking of those who have recommended boring over flamboyant, less risk taking and more reassurance.

On the eve of a national convention that will help to define the kind of campaign he intends to run for the duration of the general election against Hillary Clinton, he’s picked as his running mate someone who fits the very definition of a conventional choice. That will make many people in the party happy, but will it make Trump happy in the end?

Pence is hardly a natural fit with the Republican nominee-in-waiting. Their personalities are not obviously compatible — a freewheeling, unpredictable, often bombastic New Yorker versus a deeply religious, button-downed, conservative Midwesterner. It seemed clear throughout the transparently opaque selection process — at least what could be observed at a distance — that it took some effort to develop a relationship

The two men are just as incompatible on issues. They disagree on the Trans Pacific Partnership (Trump opposed, Pence in favor); reforming Social Security (Pence in favor, Trump generally opposed); and Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims temporarily from entering the country (Pence spoke out against it). Pence has been a vigorous opponent of Planned Parenthood; Trump has defended the group’s work in behalf of women’s health, though not on abortion.

This isn’t something terribly unique. On matters where their views differ, Pence will obviously defer to Trump. A presidential nominee’s ideas always prevail over those of a running mate when the two disagree. Their differences will cause some immediate heartburn and a fair amount of negative coverage in the coming days. But they aren’t likely to be a lasting issue in the campaign unless one or the other turns them into a lasting story — which isn’t out of the question given Trump’s past history.

Of a list that included Christie and Gingrich, Pence is viewed inside the Republican Party as the safest choice, though not universally as the best choice. All three have some flaws and weaknesses, just as is the case with every vice presidential shortlist. But at a time when Trump needs to show he cares about uniting his party, Pence brings more than the others.


What makes Pence in the eyes of many Republicans the best choice among the three is the degree to which his selection could strengthen Trump’s shaky relationship with the party’s conservative base, buy a healthy measure of peace at next week’s national convention and thus allow Trump to claim by week’s end that the party is leaving Cleveland more united than it was in the weeks before.

Pence has executive experiencew as a governor and the kind of Washington experience Trump has said he wants. He has ties to the party establishment, having been a member of the House leadership. He will also reassure donors who have had qualms about the presumptive nominee.

He helps more than Christie or Gingrich in reassuring religious and social conservatives who are backing Trump but nonetheless have doubts about a man who once said he was strongly supportive of abortion rights and who has been friendly toward the LGBT community. Pence knows the ins and outs of the groups and the leaders of that movement and can translate Trump to them.

There are few people in the party who have demonstrated more rhetorical skill at rousing the base at events than Pence. Some Republicans who applauded his selection said they have confidence he will be a skilled and tough debater in the lone vice-presidential debate this fall and comfortable on the attack against Clinton.

Perhaps appropriately enough, the official announcement came via Twitter at around the same time that the delayed press conference would have been helped, and just an hour before the deadline for Pence to get out of the race:

For much of the past week, it seemed as though Trump was more inclined to pick either Newt Gingrich or Chris Christie for the number two slot than Pence. In part, this was apparently because he has a much closer personal relationship with either of these men than he does with Pence, who he apparently hadn’t spent much time with prior to the past two weeks while he was going through the vetting and discussion process that led up to today’s announcement. It’s also undeniable that both Gingrich and Christie are admittedly much more compatible with Trump’s personality than the typically soft-spoken Midwestern Governor is. Indeed, according to CNN’s Dana Bash, as late as yesterday evening, by which point news about the selection of Pence had leaked to the media and Pence himself had flown to New York City from Indianapolis on a chartered jet, Trump was reportedly asking top aides if there was any way he could change his mind. If true, there may have been more to the delay of this morning’s press conference than deference to the victims of the attack in Nice and that Trump was,  at least for the moment, having second thoughts about picking someone he knows so little about

In the end, this selection is likely to have about as much of an impact on the outcome of the Presidential election as most running mate selections have had over the course of American political history, meaning it won’t have much of an impact at all. As  I’ve said in the past, there is  little evidence from American history that picking a particular nominee has had much of an impact on the outcome of election either way, even in the extreme cases where a Presidential nominee has made an exceptionally good or exceptionally bad selection. In 1988, for example, Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis selected 0Texas Senator Lloyd Bentsen as his running mate. Bentsen was highly regarded by politicians on both sides of the aisle and arguably could have been a good candidate for President in his own right, and there was little question that he was someone the nation could consider ready to take over should something happen to the President.  That same year, to the surprise of many, George H.W. Bush selected Dan Quayle, the 42 year old junior Senator from Indiana, as his running. To say that the selection was puzzling is an understatement, and Quayle did not exactly impress many people during his roll out on the national stage. Despite the contrast in the qualifications and perceptions about their respective running mates, picking Bentsen didn’t help Dukakis significantly and picking Dan Quayle didn’t seem to hurt George Bush, who won the Presidency in a landslide, albeit one that wasn’t quite as overwhelming as President Reagan’s wins in 1980 and 1984 and which didn’t deliver control of either house of Congress. Similarly, John McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin likely didn’t have much of an impact on the outcome of the 2008 election, which Republicans were unlikely to win in any case and Mitt Romney selecting Paul Ryan didn’t help him capture Midwestern states that have been out of the Republican orbit since the 1992 election.

One suspects that the Pence selection will have a similar lack of impact this time around, simply because there is no real evidence that voters place much weight on the selection of a running mate when deciding who to vote for, or that such a selection has much of an impact on which candidate an undecided voter decides to support in a General Election. To some degree, I suppose that picking Pence will reassure some marginal Republican votes, but the actual number of people that this consists of is likely to be so low that it will hardly matter. Nonetheless, because it is the first major decision that a prospective President makes that could have an impact on his or her Administration, this is a selection that is seemingly always destined to get more attention than it probably deserves.

FILED UNDER: 2016 Election, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Pch101 says:

    But by choosing Pence over former House speaker Newt Gingrich and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, he has embraced the thinking of those who have recommended boring over flamboyant, less risk taking and more reassurance.

    No, I think that he’s going to try to win the Rust Belt. It’s the only chance that he has.

    But can Pence deliver Michigan and/or Ohio? I wouldn’t count on it.

  2. Andrew says:

    Wait. So…you are telling me that a Megalomaniac got a Yes Man to be his number two?


  3. David M says:



  4. steve s says:

    The betting sites have Trump with a 33% chance of winning it all now.

    (up from about 20% a week ago)

  5. al-Alameda says:

    Pence is definitely a charisma free zone.

    His selection will definitely please base conservatives, and probably a lot of Democrats too.

  6. steve s says:

    I’ve been monitoring the pro-trump websites like Gateway Pundit, and so far the reaction has been pretty Meh.

    When the christianists figure out that they can impeach Trump and get President Pence, they’ll go rabid. Then they can start feeding president pence the dossiers of strong SCOTUS candidates who were kicked out of Liberty Law School for being “Cartoonishly Extreme”.

  7. C. Clavin says:

    TP ’16
    I don’t know if you’ve seen their logo…buts it’s dirty!!!

  8. Gromitt Gunn says:

    I’ll not be donating a tuppence to Trumpence, my good man!

  9. Andrew says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Grab the TP for 2016. It’s Going to be Yuuuge!

  10. C. Clavin says:

    The principled Mike Pence accepted the VP slot on the ticket of a man he said was unacceptable as President.
    Way to stick to your guns, opportunist.
    Well…now you get to be on Trumps Biggest Loser reality show.

  11. CSK says:

    Well, this is interesting. CNN and NBC both report that Trump was trying to back out of his promise to Pence. Apparently he was on the phone at midnight asking if he could rescind the decision.

  12. Kylopod says:

    Similarly, John McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin likely didn’t have much of an impact on the outcome of the 2008 election

    According to at least one study, Palin’s presence on the ticket cost McCain as much as 1.6% in the popular vote. Obviously that wasn’t enough to change the outcome of the race (where Obama was more than 7 points ahead), but it isn’t insignificant.

    You’ve committed this fallacy before–acting like anything that doesn’t change the outcome of a race is somehow irrelevant. A few months ago you made the absurd claim that Strom Thurmond’s third-party candidacy in 1948 “had [no] real impact” on the outcome. (Thurmond didn’t cause Truman to lose, but he clearly took votes from him–not to mention four states.)

    It is true the overall evidence suggests that vp candidates as a rule don’t do much to affect the outcome of a race. But there are exceptions (and Palin is one), and even a seemingly inconsequential choice can be important in the sense that the candidate had a potential to choose someone much worse.

  13. Tyrell says:

    We need a leader with military experience.

  14. gVOR08 says:

    @Tyrell: Trump’s parents sent him to a military school because of behavior problems. Trump seems to think that counts. YMMV.

  15. CSK says:


    Yes, and Trump got four medical deferments for the very tragic and debilitating condition known as bone spurs in the heels, which prevented him from doing military service but did not, fortunately, prevent him from skiing, playing golf, playing tennis, and engaging in other athletic pursuits.

    And we should laud him for surviving what he referred to as his “own personal Vietnam,” which entailed not contracting an STD during the seventies.

    Whatta champ.

  16. Jen says:

    And now, an apparent coup in Turkey…I wonder if Trump will once again delay his announcement?

  17. Guarneri says:

    I suspect the only effect of Pence will be to signal to conservatives that Trump does not have a deaf ear towards them.

  18. Tyrell says:

    @gVOR08: Not unless it was West Point.

  19. Mister Bluster says:

    Donald Trump just turned a key moment into a complete mess (once again)
    TP The Toilet Paper ticket!
    This guy could fvck up a wet dream!

  20. steve s says:

    We need a leader with military experience.

    the second-best president of my lifetime, Carter, had some of that. The best president of my lifetime, Obama, didn’t. So it’s not necessary, apparently.

  21. gVOR08 says:

    @steve s: Agree completely.

  22. Neil says:

    So who’s going to be the Republican candidate for governor now?

  23. Mister Bluster says:

    Trump attended New York Military Academy.

    New York Military Academy (NYMA) is a private boarding school in the rural village of Cornwall-on-Hudson, 60 miles (97 km) north of New York City, and one of the oldest military schools in the United States. Originally a boys’ school, it became coeducational in 1975. On March 3, 2015, NYMA filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, facing serious financial difficulties from low enrollment. Instead of opening for the fall semester in September 2015, NYMA closed and was sold at auction to a group of Chinese investors who reopened the school in November.

  24. Jen says:

    @Mister Bluster: Bankruptcy is like a contagion that follows him everywhere…

  25. Scott says:

    I’ll outsource my comments to Michael Brendan Dougherty via Rod Dreher:

    Mike Pence represents the Republican Party’s slow-witted, mercenary, and substance-free style; he embodies its mediocrity, greed, and cravenness. And his selection as Trump’s running mate is like an arranged marriage in which no one expects real happiness, but instead comforts themselves with the hope of proximity to money and a whiff of power.

  26. James Brown 32 says:

    Im torn between coining this the Bubble Guts ticket or the Mudd Butt ticket……choices choices.

  27. DrDaveT says:

    Come on, nobody really believed that Trump would choose a running mate who wasn’t obviously less intelligent than Trump, right? Who did that leave?

  28. gVOR08 says:

    @DrDaveT: Gingrich.

  29. Tyrell says:

    @Jen: Turkey is on the brink. US military is on high alert. What will Putin do ?
    Secretary Kerry needs to say something.
    The biggest crisis since the Cuban missile crisis of ’62.
    Things are spinning out of control, fast.

  30. Guarneri says:

    Always fascinating at OTB. People of the most meager accomplishment spending their days tied to their chairs while telling us all how stupid and unaccomplished others are.

  31. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Guarneri: Explains a lot in your case, doesn’t it?

  32. Mister Bluster says:

    Bubble Guts / Mudd Butt

    For sheer pain and agony I highly recommend diverticulitis
    complicated by an abdominal abscess.

  33. An Interested Party says:

    But can Pence deliver Michigan and/or Ohio?

    Well hell, he alone can’t even deliver his home state, much less any other Midwestern state…

  34. James Pearce says:

    Reihan Salam’s take:

    There is at least some good news for Republicans in Pence’s selection as VP. Pence has no political future. Had Trump chosen some reasonably together, competent, and appealing candidate, that candidate would have had her or his reputation permanently sullied by the association for years to come. That is not a concern here, at all.


  35. sam says:

    I had a moment, a fleeting moment, of pity for the Governor as it occurred to me that the poor guy will spend the next months trying to explain just exactly what Trump meant when he said, ” __________________________”.

    As I said, the moment was fleeting.

  36. C. Clavin says:


    The biggest crisis since the Cuban missile crisis of ’62.

    Drama queen.

  37. Mister Bluster says:

    Trump Military Adviser Wants Deceased Iranian Leader To Denounce Nice Attack
    Lt. General Michael Flynn called for Ayatollah Khomeini, who died in 1989, to condemn the attack.

    “I can tick them off if you want, there’s a bunch of countries with a bunch of so-called leaders,” said the former Defense Intelligence Agency director.

    Flynn’s offer to list Muslim leaders was significantly undermined, however, by the fact that his number-one example has been dead for almost 30 years.

  38. JKB says:

    @Jen: Bankruptcy is like a contagion that follows him everywhere…

    Yes, the last thing in America we want is people who “have a go”, try, attempt, reach for the stars. How unEuropean such a thing would be.

  39. CSK says:


    Building a casino is reaching for the stars?

  40. Mikey says:

    @CSK: Reaching for the stars is “unEuropean?”

    JKB doesn’t know much about Europe if he thinks that’s the case.

  41. CSK says:

    Which name does not belong on this list?


  42. MarkedMan says:

    If the report over at Talking Points Memo is correct, at one point while they were getting ready for Trump and Pence to come onstage today and do the official introduction they were playing “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”. This, after it was widely leaked that Trump had severe second thoughts and was furiously calling around Thursday night asking if he could back and chose someone other than Pence.

    “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”. At the Trump-introduces-Pence event. Are they just trolling us now?

  43. steve s says:

    80% of evangelical conservatives are already onboard with trump, so this might not help him too much.

  44. CSK says:

    Apparently they’ve scrubbed that “TP” logo that was the focus of so much mockery.

  45. steve s says:

    @CSK: Brahe’s nose is about as realistic as Trump’s hair.

  46. Moosebreath says:


    It just goes to show how much we will gain if we elect Trump and he runs the country like a business. Our country’s proposals will have the leader trying to undo the decision up to the last minute, a logo which needs to be recalled within 24 hours because it is so offensive, and once the announcement is made, no follow up for a day, so the other side gets free attack time.

  47. CSK says:


    Could you be thinking of those runaway successes such as Trump Vodka, Trump: The Game, Trump Steaks, the Trump Shuttle, Trump Mortgage, Trump University, Trump Network, Trump Magazine, GoTrump, plus the four bankruptcies?

  48. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @MarkedMan: Hasn’t Trump been trolling us (as in the GOP) all along?

  49. Neil Hudelson says:

    @An Interested Party:

    As a resident Hoosier who understands state politics fairly well, I can tell you the Pence actually puts Indiana into play.

  50. DrDaveT says:



    Sadly, no. The Newt is clearly not only smarter than Trump, but better-educated and more eloquent, as well, and with an ego at least as large as The Donald’s. No way does Trump risk being upstaged like that.

  51. anjin-san says:



    One gets the sense that you are not – how should I say this – widely traveled…

  52. Pch101 says:


    One gets the sense that you are not – how should I say this – widely traveled…

    That’s not fair. He’s probably been to both Dallas and Fort Worth.

  53. Tony W says:

    @Pch101: In the news this morning we learn that Trump is widely traveled too – breaking campaign finance law by soliciting foreign donations.

    Can’t wait to hear from Trump’s apologists about how this actual law violation is actually no big deal.

  54. Pch101 says:

    @Tony W:

    Nice segue on the foreign travel bit.

    The irony is that the Clinton Server Freakout Brigade was really, really, really hoping that her evil Marxist email server would reveal that Clinton was using her foreign secretary gig to funnel foreign cash into her campaign. When it turns out that no such thing happened, they looked for flimsier reasons to complain.

    Funny how these very same people have trouble remembering these allegations about Trump that have been floating around for months actually have some substance to them. If there were substantive allegations of this sort about Clinton, we would have already had 43 House hearings into this, with more planned.

  55. gVOR08 says:

    @DrDaveT: There’s the old line about Gingrich being a dumb guy’s idea of what a smart guy sounds like. Gingrich is clearly self absorbed, ambitious, worked hard, and excels at a low cunning. Sort of like Trump. But no, I really don’t think either of them are terribly bright. He is better educated, but IIRC he went into politics after failing as a history prof.

  56. gVOR08 says:


    He’s probably been to both Dallas and Fort Worth.

    I lived in Arlington, mid way between, in the early 70s. There was never any reason to go any further toward Fort Worth than the liquor stores just over the county line.

  57. Pch101 says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    I can’t wait to hear the Trump foreign policy team’s plan for handling a crisis in Atlantis.

  58. al-Ameda says:


    I can’t wait to hear the Trump foreign policy team’s plan for handling a crisis in Atlantis.

    Ship in water from Flint, Michigan to stabilize the situation?

  59. CSK says:


    Why bother? All the mortgages are under water.

  60. Tony W says:

    It’s Monday – do they have another new logo yet?

  61. anjin-san says:

    Is Pence allowed to say anything other than “Donald’s hands are huge, gigantic really”…