It’s widely being reported that Donald Trump has decided to name Mike Pence as his running mate. According to Patricia Murphy at Roll Call, Trump “was reportedly impressed with Pence’s calm demeanor, his experience on Capitol Hill and as a governor, and Pence’s potential to assist Trump in governing, should the ticket win in November.”
If Trump has picked Pence for these reasons, then I’m impressed.
In my view, Pence is preferable to Newt Gingrich, the other alleged finalist. I think Pence would be a better president than Gingrich. As vice president, moreover, Pence would be a steady conservative voice in Trump’s ear (assuming Trump doesn’t exile him). Gingrich probably will be in Trump’s ear, vice presidency or not.
Electorally, Pence doesn’t bring much to the table, though he may marginally improve Trump’s standing (1) among conservatives, especially evangelicals and (2) in Indiana.
Rich Lowry and Charles Krauthammer think that Gingrich would be a better choice. They say that Gingrich is ideally suited to explain away Trump’s misstatements because the former Speaker can explain (and explain away) anything.
There’s some truth in this. However, if Gingrich were capable of explaining things in broadly appealing ways, I doubt he would have spent nearly 20 years in the political wilderness.
Lowry also points to the fact that Gingrich is an idea man. That’s true as well — to a fault. However, as I noted, Gingrich will be readily available to offer ideas to Trump.
One also has to consider Gingrich’s weaknesses. I won’t go into them here, on the assumption that Gingrich isn’t going to be the nominee, except to suggest that Trump desperately needs to do well among white women, and Gingrich is off-putting to large segments of that group.
Electorally, I think Chris Christie be a better choice than Pence or Gingrich. The New Jersey governor is a great “explainer” — better than Gingrich, at the emotional level — and has more crossover appeal than Gingrich, in my view. Like Gingrich, though, Christie comes with serious baggage.
Trump would be best served electorally, I think, by an able female governor, especially a minority group member. Nikki Haley would have been ideal for this role. However, there didn’t seem to interest by either party in such a ticket. As I understand it, Haley won’t even be speaking at the convention.
Again, though, I give Trump credit if, in fact, he based his decision on “calm demeanor. . .experience . . .and potential to assist. . .in governing”