The buzz about Donald Trump’s vice-presidential pick is centering on Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.
The Indianapolis Star is reporting that Pence “is dropping his re-election bid in Indiana to become Donald Trump’s running mate.”
Trump’s campaign has announced it will officially make an announcement on who his pick is at 11 am ET Friday from Trump Tower in New York. A campaign spokesman tweeted that the campaign is not confirming any vice-presidential pick at this point and said a decision has not yet been made.
Pence has been governor of Indiana since 2013. Before that, he served as the congressman from Indiana’s sixth congressional district from 2000 to 2012.
House Speaker Paul Ryan praised Pence Thursday: “It’s no secret I’m a big fan of Mike Pence’s. We’re very good friends. I’ve very high regard for him.”
He called Pence a “good movement conservative.” Pence would help reassure conservatives, who have had their doubts about Trump, about what kind of president he would be. That’s critically important as the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, is set to kick off Monday.
The clearest signal that Pence could be Trump’s pick came from a list of speakers the campaign released Thursday. It included Newt Gingrich and Chris Christie, two reported finalists for the job, but excluded Pence.
Here are five things to know about Pence:
1. “A Christian, a conservative, and a Republican, in that order.”
Pence is a born-again Christian — he became one in college — and has put his religion in the foreground of his political persona.
“For me it all begins with faith; it begins with what matters most, and I try and put what I believe to be moral truth first. My philosophy of government second. And my politics third,” Pence said in a 2010 appearance on the Christian Broadcasting Network.
Pence’s strong Christian identity could help shore up support among evangelicals for Trump. It’s a group critical to any Republican nominee’s chances.
2. “Rush Limbaugh on Decaf”
In the 1990s, Pence had a radio talk show called The Mike Pence Show and also did a Sunday TV show in Indianapolis. He described himself as “Rush Limbaugh on decaf,” meaning while a conservative, he was not as bombastic as the popular Limbaugh, who hosts his own talk show. That’s something people see as a positive for Pence on a Trump ticket given Pence’s reputation for a low-key, unflappable demeanor.
3. “Confessions of a Negative Campaigner”
After losing early campaigns for Congress, he wrote an essay apologizing for running negative ads against an opponent, Rep. Phillip Sharp. The Indianapolis Star has reported Pence “swore off harsh political tactics.” In the essay, Pence called for “basic human decency.”
4. He’s up for reelection and is in a tight race
Pence is in a heated re-election bout to hold onto his Indiana governorship. The latest polls show him polling just a few points ahead of his Democratic opponent John Gregg.
But Pence can’t run for both vice president and governor at the same time.
5. He gained notoriety for his role in the Indiana “religious freedom restoration act”
In 2015, he signed into law a controversial “religious freedom” bill, which spurred wide backlash. Critics said the bill could allow business owners to ban LGBT customers based on a claim of religious freedom.
After “business, civic and sports leaders … strongly called for a fix to the legislation,” USA Today noted, Pence later signed a revised version of the law.
But Pence appeared to back the bill in an interview on Fox.
“Well let me say first and foremost, I stand by this law,” he said. “But I understand that the way that some on the left, and frankly some in the national media, have mischaracterized this law over the last week might make it necessary for us to clarify the law through legislation. And we were working through the day and last into the night last night with legislative leaders to consider ways to do that.”
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