It's Official! Indiana Gov. Mike Pence Will Be Donald Trump's Running Mate
Trump's VP pick is a generic Republican. That's the point.
Donald Trump confirmed a week's worth of speculation this morning by announcing that he had chosen Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his vice presidential candidate. He made the announcement on Twitter, of course.
I am pleased to announce that I have chosen Governor Mike Pence as my Vice Presidential running mate. News conference tomorrow at 11:00 A.M.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 15, 2016
The decision to delay the move was widely criticized, which makes this morning's announcement look like a response to that criticism.
The drama surrounding Vice Presidential selection process offers a window into Trump's management and decision-making style: For weeks, he's built up the reality show intrigue surrounding the pick, appearing with a number of different potential candidates, teasing a 60 Minutes special where he was set to first appear with his running mate, saying even as late as last night that he had not made his "final, final decision." Trump, as always, is highly attuned to the drama of politics, but also comes across as flightly, indecisive, and thin-skinned.
Trump's eventual selection, meanwhile, couldn't be more underwhelming. Pence is a longtime Republican politician driven by a religiously inflected social conservatism. He's sometimes described as a staunch fiscal conservative, but he's also the sort of governor who counts shady deals with local industry as "free-market" policymaking, as he did when he expanded Medicaid under Obamacare in Indiana.
As Nick Gillespie wrote earlier this week, "Pence is not the worst of the Republican bunch but he's not the best, especially from a libertarian perspective." Instead, he's essentially of generic Midwestern GOP politician whose defining quality is his embrace of party orthodoxy. He is remarkably unremarkable.
That's probably why Trump picked Pence. Pence's function on the GOP ticket will be to reassure anxious Republicans that Trump maintains some connection to the traditional party apparatus and its political class. Pence's purpose, in other words, is to serve as an ornamental reminder of the party as it existed before Trump's run. He's there to give Trump cover for what amounts to a takeover of the GOP. Even with Pence on the ticket, it's Trump's party now.