Donald Trump introduced Mike Pence today as his running mate. Pence showed a fair amount of prowess as a candidate in his speech accepting the nod.
Rich Lowry says that Trump seemed to be “doing everything he could to signal his lack of enthusiasm about his own pick–he rambled on during the introduction, only occasionally coming back to Pence and his record in Indiana.” That’s not how I saw it.
Sure, Trump rambled some and he is always going to talk about himself. However, Trump also did a good job of explaining why he (claims to have) picked Pence. In doing so praised the Indiana governor strongly.
Trump said he selected Pence because the governor’s record stood out as he traveled from state to state during the primary season. He then cited at length the positive aspects of Pence’s tenure. Yes, Trump was matter-of-fact rather than gushing. However, I sensed no attempt to signal lack of enthusiasm.
Pence’s speech was good — not the “power-packed” “barn burner” that Chris Matthews perceived — but quite good. Lowry calls it “an utterly standard Republican speech,” adding “if the GOP establishment closed its eyes during his speech it could briefly pretend that this is a normal ticket.”
That, of course, is the point of Pence, and not just for the GOP “establishment” but for conservative Republican voters as well.
Pence’s speech was effective because of the sharp contrasts he was able to draw between Trump and Hillary Clinton on a series of issues that matter to conservatives. This is what Matthews must have had in mind when he praised the speech and compared Pence to long-forgotten GOP firebrand Walter Judd (the keynote speaker at the 1960 Republican convention, if memory serves).
Hardcore NeverTrumpers presumably will blow off as irrelevant the contrasts Pence set forth. But many Trump skeptics, including me, will feel that they have to be considered.
Here is what Pence had to say: