Trump asked Pence to be his running mate Thursday afternoon, and the Indiana governor accepted, a source with direct knowledge told ABC News.
Pence, who served in Congress for 12 years from 2000-2012, was a leading social conservative in the House -- a reassurance to many Republicans concerned about Trump’s political history as a registered Democrat who has shown little command of policy as a 2016 presidential candidate.
“In many ways he’s sort of the anti-Trump, he has a strong record as a strong conservative,” said Rep. Luke Messer, R-Indiana, a former state GOP party official who replaced Pence in Congress. “Donald Trump is famous for speaking off the cuff every day. Mike is someone who is … very consistent in his message and philosophy throughout his career.”
Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, an early backer of Sen. Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign, recalled Pence’s time on Capitol Hill fondly.
“Sitting on the Judiciary Committee, we’d fight the culture wars in there together,” King said with a smile. “I once said to Mike, 'Mike Pence, I would support you for every position for which you endeavor all the way up to but not including pope.'
“And then I learned he was an altar boy as a little boy. But I like [Pence’s wife] Karen and we have to keep her around!” he added.
Sen. Dan Coats, R-Indiana, who has spoken with Pence about the speculation in recent days, said Thursday he was “absolutely thrilled.”
“He’s chosen someone with experience on Capitol Hill who can work with the Congress; he’s chosen someone who can reach out to evangelicals and conservatives; he’s chosen someone who has proven he can run a state effectively and efficiently,” he said.
Even Rep. Reid Ribble, R-Wisconsin, who was one of the first Republicans to turn his fire on Trump during the GOP primary, approved of Trump’s apparent selection.
“When I came here my first year, he was my mentor here. He’s a really good communicator, and extraordinary capable,” Ribble said.
The Wisconsin Republican also called the mild-mannered, measured former talk radio host “the anti-Trump.”
“I was actually surprised to hear that he was actually entertaining it, but everyone has to make their own decisions on these things,” Ribble said.
Pence traveled to New York Thursday evening ahead of a potential announcement with Trump.
He has until noon Friday to formally withdraw from the Indiana governor's race. Under state law, Pence is prohibited from simultaneously running for vice president and seeking reelection in the Hoosier State.
ABC's Ali Rogin contributed to this report.