Donald Trump has announced Mike Pence, Indiana governor, as his running mate for vice-president. The original time of 11 pm Friday has been canceled because of the mass killing in Nice, France but Trump tweeted out his pick at 11-00am Friday and said he'd officially announce hm at a press conference on Saturday.
I am pleased to announce that I have chosen Governor Mike Pence as my Vice Presidential running mate. News conference tomorrow at 11:00 A.M.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 15, 2016
It is a no-brainer for Pence. If Trump loses but he performs well, he leaps to the top of the 2020 GOP presidential class.
When Pence gains the nomination it will be interesting to see if the 57-year-old cites his Irish grandfather as his major inspiration.
Pence spent many summers in Ireland as a child and told the Irish Voice Newspaper in 2009 he remembered cutting turf and saving hay in Clare and Sligo where his roots are.
He angered some of the Tea Party hardliners when he declared he was willing to strike a deal on immigration reform with Democrats in 2009, even meeting with the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform (ILIR) during that immigration bill battle. He was one of the very few Republicans who did so.
The excuse he gave was his Irish grandfather, and when The New York Times asked him why, he stated "April 11, 1923.”
This was the date his Irish grandfather, Richard Michael Cawley, a Chicago bus driver, came through Ellis Island.
“We were especially close,” said Pence, who added that he sees his grandfather’s thrift and hard work in today’s immigrant generation.
His idol is John F. Kennedy and he stated in a Christian Broadcasting Network interview in 2010, "It may be that I grew up in a big Irish Catholic family like he did. Maybe it was that my grandparents were so proud of the first Irish Catholic president. " He stated he even still has a box of JFK memorabilia.
The Governor is a staunch social conservative and devout evangelical Christian and in recent years has come under fire for being anti-LGBT. He has pushed measures to limit the social impact of the LGBT community during his time in office and was also criticized whilst Governor for revising a religious freedom law.
Currently, Pence is serving as Indiana's Governor, taking office in 2013. He had previously served in the House of Representatives for 12 years and served as Chairman of the House Republican Conference from 2009 to 2011.
Before Pence began his political career, he worked as an attorney and as a conservative radio DJ hosting “The Mike Pence Show” in the early 1990s.
In an interesting similarity to Trump, Pence has relatives in Doonbeg in Clare near where Trump's golf course and hotel resort is. He last visited in 2013 and showed up in Morrisey's Pub in Doonbeg to visit relatives
Despite his views on immigration, Pence still has many friends on Capitol Hill, especially as a well-connected fundraiser. He is still in tune with the Republican National fundraising network and also has strong ties with the network overseen by billionaire GOP donors Charles and David Koch.
His location in the key battleground of the Midwest, his ties to House and Senate Republicans and his successful election-winning record make him a smart pick for Trump, advisors say.
Although proud of his Irish Catholic heritage, Pence changed to evangelicalism and has been a strong proponent of traditional values ever since.
Pence was haunted for years by rumors of his own White House bid but it never materialized.
His decision not to run against Senator Evan Bayh in Indiana for the Senate seat there in 2010 intensified the rumors that the then-House Republican Conference Chairman was considering a White House bid, but it never came to pass.
Back in 2010, The Huffington Post reported that the Republican's name was being increasingly thrown around as a new face for 2012, following much talk years earlier that 2008 would be the year he'd emerge as a potential candidate.
In 2010, he was the No. 3 figure in the House leadership and when the GOP won back the House in November of that year, it was credited in a large measure to Pence's advocacy and behind-the-scenes work.