Conservatives rally around Mike Pence for vice president

Ever since Trump won the Indiana primary, thus becoming the presumptive Republican nominee, folks have been speculating about his choice for vice president. Talk has centered mainly around Newt Gingrich and Chris Christie.

The tier just behind Gingrich and Christie has been occupied by Bob Corker and Joni Ernst. However, both now say they don’t want to tapped.

Neither Gingrich nor Christie holds much appeal for many conservatives. Speaking for myself, Gingrich is too flaky and Christie too centrist. (Corker didn’t appeal to me either.)

With Ernst apparently off the list, whom do conservatives favor?

In my view, Tom Cotton would be a great choice, assuming he’s willing. However, many conservatives seem to be rallying around Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.

In fact, when Ernst withdrew, she suggested Pence should get the VP nod. She told Politico:

I will admit that I am a Mike Pence fan. He is so well-rounded, served as a governor and I think he’s a great conservative. So I don’t think he could go wrong.

Jeff Roe, the manager of Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign, also raves about Pence. Roe said of Pence:

I think he’d be fabulous. He’d be a rudder on a somewhat erratic campaign and he would have the right balance of being a full-spectrum conservative, having executive experience and legislative experience. He’s one of the best choices I’ve heard mentioned.

Trump has said he would like a running mate who knows his way around Capitol Hill. Pence served for ten years in the U.S. House, including a stint as chairman of the House Republican Conference.

The Koch brothers may also be backing Pence. It’s no secret that the brothers are Pence fans. According to Stewart Lawrence of the Daily Caller, they “have come to admire the former Indiana congressman for his fiscal conservatism, opposition to abortion and Obamacare, and support for energy deregulation.”

Moreover, Pence regularly speaks at public and private events sponsored by Americans for Prosperity, the organization founded by the Kochs. Pence openly supports the organization’s activities in Indiana and has publicly praised the Kochs for their “contribution to this country and to Indiana, in particular.”

Pence is also popular with evangelicals. He’s strongly pro-life.

With the support of evangelicals, the Koch brothers, and mainstream conservatives like Joni Ernst, Pence seems like a logical selection, assuming Trump wants to shore up conservative support. If he’s looking to win over moderates and/or increase his appeal to women, Pence becomes a far less compelling choice.

Is Pence actually under consideration by the Trump campaign, though? Yes, according to Michael Caputo, a former Trump adviser who left the campaign in late June. Pence “has got a lot of support among senior aides,” Caputo says.

But what does the candidate himself think of Pence? Who knows? Trump will have observed (1) that Pence was slow to endorse Ted Cruz in the Indiana primary, despite pressure from conservatives to do so, (2) that Pence eventually did endorse Cruz, but weakly, and (3) that the endorsement carried little weight with Indiana Republicans. As noted, it was Trump’s rout of Cruz in Pence’s home state that all but assured Trump’s nomination.

What Trump made of all this is anyone’s guess. Mine is that Trump wasn’t overly impressed. However, it’s probably the impression Pence makes in meetings with the candidate that will count the most. He certainly won’t want to come across as “low energy,” for example.

Would Pence agree to be Trump’s running mate? Caputo seems to believe so. “I think Mike Pence already voted with his feet by going to visit with Mr. Trump,” he says. Indeed, he may have voted with his mouth when he praised Trump even as he endorsed Cruz in April.

Trump-Pence. I’ll say this much for that ticket: it beats Trump-Gingrich and Trump-Christie.