CLEVELAND – Indiana Gov. Mike Pence proved to be every bit the alter ego to the free-wheeling Donald Trump that the Republican nominee’s campaign had hoped he would be.
In his debut at the Republican National Convention on Wednesday, Pence began his speech with a case for Trump, who he said was “distinctly American” and fiercely loyal.
“I’ll grant you he can be a little rough with politicians on the stage. And I’ll bet we see that again. But I’ve seen this good man up close. His utter lack of pretense, his respect for the people who work for him and his devotion to his family.”
He tried out his attack on Democrat Hillary Clinton, saying “Democrats are about to anoint someone who represents everything the country is tired of.”
And in a speech that was at times self-deprecating – he joked at one point that Trump was “just looking for some balance” in his pick – he kept the restless crowd roaring to cap a tumultuous night.
Trump plucked him out of a small circle of vice presidential candidates that included New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Georgia lawmaker Newt Gingrich, hoping he would appeal to a conservative evangelical base that remains skeptical of the New York mogul.
There were high expectations for his speech, which came after his awkward roll-out on Saturday with Trump and shortly after Texas Sen. Ted Cruz was showered with deafening boos for refusing to endorse his party’s candidate in his prime-time speech.
And he seemed to delight the crowd with promises that a Trump/Pence ticket would boost the economy, appoint conservative justices to the Supreme Court and bring more order to an unstable world. Trump, he promised, “will lead from strength.”
“History teaches us that weakness arouses evil,” he said, adding: “We cannot have four more years of apologizing to our enemies and abandoning our friends.”