A series of Thursday leaks that Donald Trump would name Indiana Gov. Mike Pence his running mate and an announced 11 a.m. introductory news conference was derailed overnight by a terrorist attack in Nice, France, eventually leading Donald Trump to formally announcing his vice presidential pick with a 9:50 a.m. tweet.
“It was an unfortunate confluence of events, with the deadline for Pence to withdraw from the governor’s race today that forced their hand,” Wilson says. “It would have been unseemly to do a big kickoff event with the attack in the background, but if Pence dropped out of the governor’s race, that would have served as an announcement as well. The Twitter announcement is a bit odd. They could have made a subdued statement letting people know Pence is the running mate, but they’ll defer a bigger event until later in respect for the people killed in Nice, but it turns out Trump loves Twitter, so he went ahead and did that.”
The Twitter announcement opened an immediate opportunity for Hillary Clinton to go on the offense.
“Pence is fairly unknown, which gives Democrats a chance to define him,” Wilson says. “Expect him to be portrayed as a ‘radical’ pro-lifer – is there any other kind, in their view? Also, he doesn't really help Trump expand his electoral coalition. If Indiana isn't safely Republican, Trump has lost anyway, and 50-something Midwestern white guys are the one group where Trump least needs any help.”
Botched though the announcement might be, Wilson does say Pence was a solid pick, if one lacking in sizzle.
“Pence is a solid, safe pick, and maybe that's what Trump needed,” Wilson says. “Trump provides plenty of ‘sizzle’ and outside-the-box thinking on his own; Pence will help him shore up credibility with more mainstream conservatives, and will help (at least a bit) to unify the party. His solid pro-life credentials will also play well with religious conservatives, who were more likely to support Cruz in the primaries.”
Wilson is an SMU associate professor of Political Science. He can discuss:
- religion and politics
- political psychology
- voting behavior of religious voters
- public opinion and politics