Trump finally names Pence as VP pick
CLEVELAND >> Donald Trump announced Friday that he has selected Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate, ending days of feverish speculation and recruiting to the GOP ticket a soft-spoken and seasoned conservative who could help unify the divided Republican Party.
"I am pleased to announce that I have chosen Governor Mike Pence as my Vice Presidential running mate," Trump wrote in a Twitter message delivered at 10:50 a.m.
Saturday's planned 11 a.m. press conference will be in New York at the Hilton hotel in midtown Manhattan.
Friday's social media proclamation capped a period of extraordinary uncertainty and mixed signals about Trump's selection, only days before the Republican National Convention is set to open in Cleveland.
Trump's elevation of Pence, a former House leader who is has built a deep well of relationships across the conservative movement, was received enthusiastically in some quarters of the GOP -- at least initially having Trump's intended effect of bringing together Republican factions that had been cool to his candidacy.
But Democrats were swift to eviscerate Pence and portray him as a divisive and intolerant ideologue out of touch with the diversifying nation. Presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton's campaign issued a video attacking Pence on issues related to women's health, gay rights and immigration. The video ends with this message: "Donald Trump and Mike Pence: Building a great, big, beautiful wall between America and progress."
Pence emerged from an intensive vetting process that yielded two other finalists, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former House speaker Newt Gingrich, both of whom Trump praised in a string of media interviews on Thursday.
Kellyanne Conway, a Trump strategist who is also a longtime Pence adviser, said in an interview that the pair would "complement each other in tone and content and style," and dismissed speculation by some political consultants that Pence's folksy personality would not click with Trump.
"Pence has a very latent and very robust sense of humor that will surface fairly quickly," Conway said. She also described him as an attack dog ready to take on presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton only at "5 or 6 decibels" and said that his understated presence would "calm a lot of donors and voters about down ballot."
Clinton's campaign signaled it was ready for such a brawl. In a statement, campaign chairman John Podesta said, "Pence is the most extreme pick in a generation." He called the Indiana governor an "incredibly divisive and unpopular running mate known for supporting discriminatory politics and failed economic policies that favor millionaires and corporations over working families."
A deeply conservative former congressman and talk-radio host, Pence, 57, is a seasoned politician who could help bring together disparate blocs of the Republican coalition. Trump would rely on Pence especially to bring aboard social conservatives and establishment leaders who remain skeptical of, if not outright hostile to, Trump's candidacy.
Trump has long said he wanted a running mate with governing experience who could help him enact his agenda in Washington, and Pence's credentials as a former House Republican leader seem to fit the bill.
However, Pence's gubernatorial tenure has been marked by controversy over a state law considered by critics to be discriminatory against gays and has alienated Democrats, who consider him a rigid, socially conservative ideologue.
Pence has not always agreed with Trump's policy ideas. In December, for instance, the governor criticized Trump's controversial proposal to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the United States. "Calls to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. are offensive and unconstitutional," he tweeted.
On trade, Pence and Trump have been on opposite sides. While Trump campaigns as a strident protectionist, opposing the Trans-Pacific Partnership and vowing to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, Pence has been a proponent of such deals. As a member of Congress, Pence voted for every free-trade agreement that he faced.
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