CLEVELAND — For those short on time, here’s the quick summary of Donald Trump’s endorsement of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate on the Republican presidential ticket, courtesy of the Associated Press:
Donald Trump introduced Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate on Saturday, calling him “my partner in this campaign” and his first and best choice to join him on a winning Republican presidential ticket.
Skipping the traditional massive rally in favor of a low-key announcement in a Manhattan hotel, Trump tried to draw a sharp contrast between Pence, a soft-spoken conservative, and Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential candidate. In fact, he spent about as much time lambasting Clinton as praising Pence, declaring she had led President Barack Obama “down a horrible path” abroad.
He said Pence would stand up to America’s enemies and that he and the governor represent “the law-and-order candidates” at home.
“What a difference between crooked Hillary Clinton and Mike Pence,” Trump said. He added: “He’s a solid, solid person.”
Pence, standing alone in front of American flags, hewed closely to the populist themes that Trump has voiced on the campaign trail, describing himself as “really just a small-town boy.” He praised Trump effusively as “a good man,” a fighter, a legendary businessman and a patriotic American.
“The American people are tired,” Pence said. “We’re tired of being told that this is as good as it gets. We’re tired of having politicians in both parties in Washington, D.C., telling us we’ll get to those problems tomorrow.”
But the real event was far more adventurous than that. The manner of Trump’s announcement of his No. 2 also put Pence in his place – off stage, for the first 28 minutes of a meandering event that foretells a great deal of improvisation in next week’s national GOP convention in Cleveland. Watch here:
Trump’s New York event began with these lines from the Republican presidential presumptive:
“I’m here today to introduce a man who will be my partner in this campaign and the White House, to fix our rigged system. We are in a rigged, rigged system.”
But he didn’t mention the Indiana governor. He went to the terror truck attack in France:
“We need new leadership. We need new thinking. We need strength. We need, in our country, law and order. And if I’m elected president, that will happen.”
Then the attempted coup in Turkey:
“We wish them well. It looks like they’re resolving the difficulty.”
And mess in the Middle East in general, and Hillary Clinton in particular:
“She led [President Barack Obama] right down a horrible path. He didn’t know what he was doing.”
Well past the three-minute mark, Trump spoke of lost manufacturing jobs, and a made first mention of his running mate by name:
“They’ve been taken away, like we’re babies….I found the leader who will help us deliver a safe society and a prosperous – a really prosperous – society. Indian Gov. Mike Pence was my first choice. I’ve admired the work he’s done, especially in the state of Indiana….He’s a solid, solid person.”
Trump stayed with the topic of Pence for nearly 90 seconds, before switching back to his Democratic rival:
“She’s totally bought and paid for….She’s crooked Hillary.”
After three minutes, the GOP presidential candidate worked himself back to the topic at hand – for a moment:
“What a difference between crooked Hillary Clinton and Mike Pence. Mike Pence will never be afraid to speak of our enemy: Radical Islam….Hillary is a weak person. We are the law-and-order candidates. And we’re the law-and-order party. We’re going to change things around. There’s going to be respect again for law and order.”
And then it was back to Hillary Clinton and her foreign policy, her attack ads against him, and Trump’s own opposition to the war in Iraq. (Which both Clinton and Pence supported.) And then Brexit.
And then back to his vice presidential nominee, and the real reason Trump chose him:
“So Mike Pence will never be afraid to speak the name of our enemy. Now I think, if you look at one of the big reasons that I chose Mike – and one of the reasons is party unity. I have to be honest. So many people said party unity. Because I’m an outsider. I want to be an outsider….”
A quick diversion into Trump’s landslide victories in the primaries:
“I’m doing a good job, but I’m a messenger.”
And the elimination of the Never Trump movement in Cleveland during convention preliminaries this week:
“They got crushed immediately, because people want what we’re saying.”
A nod of support for steel workers and miners:
“We’re going to put them back to work.”
And then back to his victories on the rules and platform committees at the Cleveland convention, and the plank in the platform that calls for the elimination of an IRS restriction on politicking by churches that dates back to the Lyndon Johnson era:
“We’re going to let evangelicals and Christians and Jews talk…Because religion’s voice has been taken away. All right – back to Mike Pence.”
But that quckly led to a diversion about “a friend who’s a great builder” and a discourse on manufacturing that has moved to Mexico, and the consequences that will face U.S. industries that move abroad during his presidency.
And back to his running mate:
“Indiana’s unemployment rate — and this is the primary reason I wanted Mike – other than he looks very good….”
Trump then read from his notes about Indiana’s balanced budget, a $2 billion reserve that Pence has been able to build up, its AAA bond rating, and its reputation as a good place to do business. The presence of Bobby Knight.
And then Hillary Clinton and health care for veterans:
“Take a look at what’s happening with the V.A. in Arizona….Boy, am I going to win big with the veterans.”
A shift to Indiana and school choice in that state and tax cuts.
And then Trump’s ability to build infrastructure and rebuild the old post office building on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C.:
“We’re going to have an opening very soon. Ivanka, Eric and Don did a fantastic job on it.”
And back to Indiana and Mike Pence:
“When I see what happened in Indiana, which was having tremendous problems. When I see what happened to Indiana under Mike’s work – also his predecessor did a great job, by the way. Great job…”
On Pence’s endorsement of U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz in the Indiana primary, in which Pence also praised Trump:
“It was the single greatest non-endorsement of my life. So with that, I would like to introduce a man who I truly believe will outstanding in every way, and will be the next vice president of the United States: Gov. Mike Pence.”
With that, Pence walked on and shook Trump’s hand. The presumptive GOP nominee quickly exited, stage left.