Donald Trump has ended the speculation. Indiana Governor Mike Pence will be Trump’s running mate. Trump’s choice of Pence was a safe, but unimaginative choice. Pence has the legislative and governing experience Trump lacks, but Pence lacks three essential ingredients that Trump needs.
It may not be possible to find a running mate who delivers all three and who is qualified to run, but Trump could have selected someone who could deliver at least one or two out of the three.
Agree with it or not the Republican Party has been pegged as the party of old white men. This ticket unfortunately perpetuates that. Donald Trump at the top of the ticket has seriously undermined efforts to reach out to different voting blocs. His approval rating with blacks, Hispanics and women are abysmal. The right pick could have made some inroads.
I would be the first to say that a vice presidential pick should not be made based solely their demographics, but we shouldn’t ignore it either. There were prospects who are experienced who could have been on Trump’s list to choose from. Here are some names that come to mind:
Former Louisiana Bobby Jindal
U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-SC)
New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez
Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval
U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX)
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL)
Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin
Former Congressman J.C. Watts (R-OK)
Former Secretary of State Condelezza Rice
Congresswoman Mia Love (R-UT)
South Carolina Nikki Haley
Former Congressman Allen West
Now I don’t agree with every person on this list in terms of policy, but they would deliver in terms of bringing diversity to a ticket that sorely lacks it.
In all of the top tier lists I’ve seen I saw a lack of diversity. Were ANY of these people considered? Granted with a few names on this list Donald Trump has burnt bridges with so they wouldn’t consider it which further highlights his problem with diversity.
2. From a Swing State???
Unless Indiana is in play with a general election Pence is not going to be helpful on the ticket. Actually, having Pence on the ticket may actually help Democrats in Indiana. Pence, running as Trump’s VP, will forego his reelection bid as Indiana’s governor. An open gubernatorial seat may actually energize Democrats to get out to the polls in a way that Hillary Clinton perhaps couldn’t.
This leaves Indiana Republicans scrambling to find someone to run who may or may not excite the Republican base. Pence may also be a damper on the base in Indiana, but more on that in a moment.
Pence, however, will not be particularly helpful in states like Iowa, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, Colorado, Virginia, North Carolina or New Hampshire.
3. Win over the Conservative Base
First, Governor Pence is not, by any stretch of the imagination, charismatic. He’s rather milquetoast in terms of his ability to connect. More importantly, Pence has a record that gives conservatives pause.
If we were talking about Congressman Mike Pence rather than Governor Mike Pence I would probably feel differently. Pence built up his conservative bona fides in 12 years in Congress. But, as the saying goes, “what have you done for us lately?”
Let’s see he oversaw the rebranding of Common Core which disappointed parents and grassroots activists in no small measure and left the state with even worse standards. He also caved on outside corporate pressure over the Religious Freedom Restoration Act he signed before replacing it with a weaker version.
This isn’t exactly inspiring, unless the goal is to shore up the Chamber of Commerce voter. Those folks he may have locked up.
Pence also championed Medicaid expansion as Governor. I didn’t realize expanding entitlement funding was a conservative value. When Pence was in Congress he voted against No Child Left Behind, but as governor he came hat in hand to the the federal feeding trough for money to expand preschool.
Because expanding government preschool is a conservative value.
Maybe it was a good idea for Pence to say yes to Trump because he may be facing a revolt from conservatives in Indiana (ask former Indiana State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett how that turns out). Because of this Pence may not be a boon to help in Indiana either, but being on the ticket may extend his political career should Donald Trump win.
Who is supposed to help who on the ticket again?
I don’t want to leave the impression that Mike Pence is Donald Trump’s worse choice, he’s not. He was probably the best choice on a list of horrible choices the campaign considered. Pence does have experience where Trump lacks. His pro-life record is unmarred (at least he didn’t bungle that as Governor). He is also a safe choice. There’s no skeletons in his closet. No scandals. He is a family man and respected among Christian conservatives.
He’s just not the running mate Donald Trump needs.
Shane Vander Hart is founder of CaffeinatedThoughts.com, a popular conservative Christian blog based in Iowa, co-host of Caffeinated Thoughts Radio heard weekly on 99.3fm The Truth in Des Moines, IA and the online communications manager for American Principles Project.