For most Republican voters and pro-life Americans, Donald Trump wasn’t the first pick to become the Republican standard-bearer against Hillary Clinton And with his promise to take pro-life action but his misstatements on Planned Parenthood, pro-life voters are having a hard time working up enough enthusiasm to support Trump.
Selecting Mike Pence, a pro-life champion, will help. But this will help as well — knowledge that Trump consulted with respected Christian leaders prior to making the selection.
The phone call came at 11:30pm on Wednesday. I’ve made my decision, Donald Trump told Jerry Falwell, Jr., before revealing that Indiana Governor Mike Pence would be his running mate. “Nobody knows but you,” the Liberty University president says Trump told him.
Trump’s pick came after three days of in-depth calls back-and-forth with evangelical leaders on whether Pence or former House Speaker Newt Gingrich would better appeal to their constituents. “He really is giving weight to the evangelical vote—it was his primary consideration,” Falwell says. “I made it clear to him that myself, and I believe the evangelical world, would strongly embrace either one.”
Trump’s late night call to Falwell was their fourth in three days. Earlier Wednesday morning, Trump called and listened as Falwell offered pros and cons for each of his two finalists: Pence may not have as great of name recognition, but Gingrich was more polarizing. “He joked, ‘You wouldn’t believe how they well vet these candidates, but the only one they don’t vet is me!’” Falwell says. “But, he added, ‘The American people vet me pretty well.’”
After they hung up, Falwell called Franklin Graham, who was on vacation in Alaska, to get his thoughts. Falwell gave him Trump’s number so Graham could discuss his opinions with the candidate directly. After Graham talked with Trump, he and Falwell debriefed. Graham, who maintains that he is not an advocate for a political party, declined to comment on his call with Trump. “It was a private conversation,” he told TIME through a spokesman. Graham was also part of a small group of evangelicals, including Falwell, who met privately with Trump in June.
Televangelist James Robison, president of Life Outreach International, had also been talking with Trump’s team about the vice presidential selection. Robison, like Falwell, is a member of Trump’s evangelical advisory board.
Ralph Reed for one is pleased with Trump’s choice. “Pence is a solid conservative, a man of faith, and someone with a stellar record at both the federal and state levels,” he says. “A serious, unifying pick.”
“As a Christian and a conservative, I’m greatly encouraged,” Ronnie Floyd, immediate president of the Southern Baptist Convention, said. “Mr. Pence’s faith and strong conservative convictions should help refocus this election on the values America needs most, now.”
David Brody of CBN News says the Pence selection is great for pro-life voters.
“It’s a stroke of genius. By choosing Mike Pence as his vice-presidential running mate, Donald Trump just gave his campaign a huge booster shot of credibility. In one pivotal move, Trump was able to accomplish a myriad of outstanding matters,” Brody said.
First of all, picking a rock-ribbed conservative like Pence will give republicans on Capitol Hill a big sigh of relief and should get them much more excited about the GOP ticket. After spending more than a decade in congress, Pence is respected on the hill and is considered a thoughtful, measured conservative. In essence, he’s statesman-like. That helps Trump in immeasurable ways considering the presumptive presidential nominee is the equivalent of chugging multiple 5-hour energy drinks after an all-night toga party. Pence is more like drinking chamomile tea on a breezy afternoon in the English countryside. He’s soothing. It’s just what the ticket needs. This is the unity move.
Another important point here: Pence is made of presidential timber. He looks presidential, sounds presidential and has the resume. He’s also from the heartland of the country which means he has a way of relating to, “Regular Joes.” That plays well with Trump’s blue-collar message. Plus, Pence could help in nearby swing states like Ohio, Michigan, etc.