Trump Picks Gov. Pence as His VP for 'Party Unity'

Trump officially announced that he has selected Pence as his running mate.

July 16, 2016, 11:25 AM

— -- On a balmy Saturday morning in the heart of Manhattan, Donald Trump bucked tradition again by officially introducing his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, a day later than the announcement was scheduled to take place.

"I'm here today to introduce the man who will be my partner in this campaign and White House," Trump said.

Trump spoke not in a swing state, as is the norm for such announcements, but instead at a Hilton Hotel ballroom, just a few blocks from his residence at Trump Tower. He introduced Pence as a "a man of honor, character, and honesty."

"Now, I think if you look at one of the big reasons that I chose Mike, and one of the reasons is party unity," Trump said. "I have to be honest. So many people have said 'party unity,' because I'm an outsider."

Trump then launched into a rambling, near half-hour speech, a length unprecedented for an announcement of a vice-presidential pick. The speech ranged widely in topic, from praising Pence and his record in Indiana to attacking Hillary Clinton to touting Trump's business experience. The presumptive GOP nominee also bashed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which his VP pick has supported, and decried the so-called Johnson amendment, which prohibits tax-exempt organizations from endorsing political candidates.

"We're going to get rid of that horrible Johnson amendment, and we're going to let evangelicals, we're going to let Christians and Jews and people of religion talk without being afraid to talk,” Trump said in an apparent appeal for the support of evangelicals whose votes Pence is expected to help him garner.

Trump then left the stage to Pence, who accepted the nomination.

"I answered this call for two reasons," Pence said. "First, because I know from firsthand experience that strong Republican leadership can bring about real change ... just like we've seen in the Hoosier state. Secondly, because Hillary Clinton must never become president of the United States of America."

Pence, who had previously condemned several of Trump's policy proposals including the plan to temporarily ban Muslims, today softened his positions or outright reversed himself, suggesting the sort of malleability he may need going forward on the ticket.

"Where Donald Trump wants to build a wall and temporarily suspend immigration by countries compromised by terrorism, Hillary Clinton plans to ignore the Supreme Court, reimpose executive amnesty and would increase -- increase -- our refugee program by more than 500 percent,” Pence said.

Both Pence and Trump also addressed the deadly attack in Nice, France that occurred Thursday night, as well as the attempted coup in Turkey on Friday night.

Trump had originally planned on announcing his running mate on Thursday, but postponed the event after the attack in Nice.

In the audience, there was yet another unconventional crowd.

Judy Doyle, a retired criminal probation officer from Mendham, New Jersey, was staying at the hotel to celebrate her 65th birthday and found her way into the event after seats opened up. She was an initial supporter of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie but believes that Pence is a good pick for vice president.

“I think Pence brings stability,” she said. “You can put your hand in his and know that what they say they mean."

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