Donald Trump Campaigns With Rumored Vice Presidential Finalists

Jul 12, 2016
Originally published on November 30, 2016 7:48 pm
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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Any day now Donald Trump will announce his running mate. We can guess at some of the names that are on his short list because they've been campaigning with Trump. Indiana Governor Mike Pence is the latest vice presidential hopeful to hit the trail with Donald Trump.

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MIKE PENCE: To paraphrase the director of the FBI, I think it would be extremely careless to elect Hillary Clinton as the next president of the United States.

(CHEERING, APPLAUSE)

SIEGEL: NPR's Sarah McCammon is in Westfield, Ind., where the two were campaigning this evening. And Sarah, what is Trump having Governor Pence do today?

SARAH MCCAMMON, BYLINE: Well, Governor Pence introduced Trump and, you know, gave that - a fairly brief speech before Donald Trump took the stage. He mentioned Pence really briefly at the beginning and then again at the end of his speech. Here's how he mentioned Pence at the beginning.

SIEGEL: And what kind of an impression did Mike Pence make there tonight?

MCCAMMON: You know, in talking with folks beforehand, you know - he's well-known in Indiana. Obviously he's the governor. But a lot of people at this rally were kind of neither here nor there about him. You know, he seemed to draw a lot of applause during the event, but you know, my sense is that these people were here to see Donald Trump, not necessarily Governor Pence. A couple people told me they didn't know that much about him or - you know, they appreciate the fact that he's got a socially conservative reputation here in Indiana. But you know, Donald Trump is the star of the show...

SIEGEL: Yep.

MCCAMMON: And you know, obviously that's who he wants to be. But this is really an audition for Pence as the - we get closer to the convention and it's just about time to take a VP.

SIEGEL: Well, what is it about Pence's background that would make him an attractive pick for Donald Trump?

MCCAMMON: Well, as I mentioned, he is popular with social conservatives. He endorsed Texas Senator Ted Cruz in the primary, and that's a constituency that Donald Trump has struggled with a bit and needs to shore up as he heads into the general election. Mike Pence also of course as a governor has executive experience. He's a former member of Congress. Donald Trump has of course said that he wants experience with him on the ticket.

But I should say, Robert, that Pence has some liability. There were some controversy over abortion restrictions that were passed by the state and supported by Pence earlier this year. Last year a religious liberty law (inaudible) supported in Indiana which gave protection to businesses that want to deny services for same-sex weddings. That sort of controversy and Pence's position was opposed by a lot of (unintelligible), and his approval rating sank here after that.

One other thing is he's up against a deadline for reelection. He cannot run for governor and vice president under Indiana law, so he has until Friday to withdraw his name from the gubernatorial ballot. But conveniently, Robert, we expect Trump to (unintelligible) pretty soon.

SIEGEL: Well, when do we think he might actually turn to one of his finalist and say, you're hired?

MCCAMMON: That's right. Everything we're hearing is probably by Friday before the weekend. You know, there was some talk that Donald Trump might wait and make a big announcement during the GOP convention. Everything we've been hearing is probably not, which is probably good news for Mike Pence since he is facing that deadline.

SIEGEL: You mentioned he has some liabilities and some virtues. They both seem to reflect his status as a leading social conservative in the GOP, no?

MCCAMMON: Right. Well, you know, Donald Trump - again, he's struggled with the socially conservative base. There have been a lot of concerns among, you know, some evangelical Christians and certainly ideological conservatives about Trump's conservative bona fide (ph). You know, picking a conservative to be on the ticket with him could help him in that area, but it could also be a liability with some of the middle-of-the-road voters. So we'll see.

SIEGEL: OK, thanks, Sarah. That's NPR's Sarah McCammon in Westfield, Ind., where Donald Trump is campaigning with Indiana Governor Mike Pence. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.