Indiana Gov. Mike Pence floats to top of Donald Trump’s VP list

Indiana Governor Mike Pence (Photo credit: Gage Skidmore via Flickr / Creative Commons)

Indiana’s Republican Governor Mike Pence has emerged as Donald Trump’s most likely running mate. Multiple sources told news outlets Thursday that Trump has picked the first-term governor though Trump’s office refuses to comment until an official announcement is made on Friday. In the meantime, FSRN’s Jacob Resneck checked in with Joe Crawford at WFHB in Bloomington, Indiana for some background on Gov. Mike Pence.

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Jacob Resneck: Tell us, what kind of governor is Mike Pence? Who supports him and who doesn’t?

Joe Crawford: So, Mike Pence is an evangelical conservative and he is the governor of a very conservative state, or at least the legislature is very dominated by conservatives, so he has not been challenged a lot as far as his ideology. For the most part, there are Republican super-majorities in both the Indiana House and the Indiana Senate. He’s had a lot of success at passing some very conservative legislation. During the time that he’s been governor, and when he was a congressman, he’s hugely anti-abortion rights. He led what almost ended up in a government shutdown in 2011 in an attempt to defund Planned Parenthood. And as governor, he has signed multiple bills that have essentially tried to get around Roe vs. Wade to restrict access to abortion. He’s also, of course, famously supported the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which would have effectively made it legal to discriminate against LGBTQ people, as well as others. Recently, and this hasn’t gotten as much a attention, but he’s been fairly outspoken about the drug war, he’s a very big proponent of the drug war. In his State of the State, his most recent one, he said that Indiana is leaning into the war on drugs. There have been some pretty high profile busts of drug rings as well as meth manufacturers. And he actually signed into law some mandatory minimums for folks who are arrested for dealing meth or heroin. On social issues especially, he’s very conservative. He does have, I think, some support from the business community, the businesses in Indiana, however, many of them were very opposed, for example, to his support for the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which they thought would hurt their bottom lines.

JR: And now, knowing what you’ve seen from Governor Pence as the state executive and what you know about Donald Trump as a real estate mogul and television personality, what would you say could be the chemistry between them? What would Governor Pence bring to the Trump ticket?

JC: Well, I think it’s probably worth noting that the National Review actually reported in April, and citing anonymous sources, so who knows how reliable this is, but they cited sources that said Pence “loathes Trump.” Which wouldn’t be maybe that surprising; he actually endorsed Ted Cruz in the presidential election initially, just a few days before Cruz ended up bowing out of the race. But Pence is thought of as being, I’ve seen him described as cordial, which of course is not how a lot of folks think of Donald Trump. Pence is not likely to be, he’s not caustic, he’s not mean, he’s not going to describing his genitals onstage. He’s not going to do anything nearly as wild as Trump does. The chemistry, I would suspect that they’re hoping for a good cop, bad cop situation in which Trump can say and do some pretty wild things, and Pence can be the person who smiles and is nice. You know, much like, if you think of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, he was repeatedly asked by George Stephanopoulos if this was piece of legislation that would be discriminatory against LGBTQ people and Pence seemed almost offended by this idea that he would be supporting something that would be discrimination. And he kept that “No, we don’t support discrimination.” At the same time, however, he supported the policy, the policy which allowed discrimination to occur. So he has some experience in standing in front of pretty right-wing policies that have negative effects on certain populations and saying that, in fact, they do not have those effects, or saying that this is not actually a discriminatory piece of legislation. I don’t know that he’s ever had to defend someone who called Mexicans rapists or anything quite that wild, so who knows how that might pan out.

Joe Crawford is news director at WFHB in Bloomington, Indiana.

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