S.C. political leaders largely have positive reactions Thursday to reports that Republican Donald Trump will name Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his vice-presidential running mate.
Multiple news outlets reported the presumptive GOP presidential nominee had selected Pence, a former congressman, as his vice presidential choice.
Pence is a reassuring choice after some of Trump’s unorthodox statements on the campaign trail, congressional Republicans said.
"With Pence, conservatives can rest assured that there will be a solid, conservative voice on the inside of the Trump Administration,” said U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-Indian Land. “He is a very smart choice.”
U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, R-Springdale, also praised Pence.
“We often worked together on the Republican Study Committee to advance conservative legislation,” said Wilson, who served in the House with Pence, who represented an Indiana district from 2002 to 2012. “I was grateful to visit our troops together in Iraq in 2008, where I saw firsthand his heartfelt appreciation for our service members and military families.”
After his election in 2010, U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-Laurens, said he also formed a favorable impression of Pence.
“I know him to be a man of faith, a strong conservative, and a Reaganesque communicator,” Duncan said. “He's been a friend to many of us in the South Carolina delegation and would make a fantastic vice president.”
Trump was set to announce Pence Friday. However, that announcement was delayed after an attack Thursday night in France.
Matt Moore, chairman of the S.C. Republican Party, called Pence an “ideal vice president,” saying he would help Trump with his legislative agenda.
“He is a conservative reformer with executive experience who also maintains good contacts on Capitol Hill,” Moore said of Pence, who has been Indiana governor since 2012.
State Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, an Orangeburg Democrat and member of the Democratic National Committee, sees Pence’s presence on the Trump ticket could help unite the Republican base.
“It will help Trump with the evangelicals and the conservatives,” Cobb-Hunter said. “Mike Pence is their guy. He speaks their language, so that would bolster Trump with that part of the GOP base.”
But Pence also could bring some negatives of his own to the race.
In 2015, Pence became a lightning rod for criticism after he signed Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law. The act was widely seen as intended to allow discrimination against LGBT individuals, and its passage prompted calls to boycott Indiana. The Indiana legislature later passed revisions to the law to protect against it being used as a shield for discrimination.
Reports of the governor’s selection were unconfirmed Thursday night, but Pence was said to be the top choice of Trump’s children, who have played an active role in his campaign. Trump spent Tuesday meeting with Pence in Indiana, and he and his family met with Pence at the governor’s mansion Wednesday morning.
The Indianapolis Star reported Thursday that Pence was dropping his bid for re-election as governor to run on the GOP ticket with Trump. He cannot run simultaneously for both offices.
The Trump campaign said Thursday afternoon that a final decision had not yet been made.
Speculation that Pence would be Trump’s pick swirled Thursday when the Republican National Committee released a preliminary list of convention speakers, excluding the Indiana governor’s name.
Trump had been considering a handful of candidates to run as his vice president.
Among those possibilities, Pence is seen as the most cautious choice that Trump could make.
Pence has strict conservative views on abortion and gay rights, both issues about which the billionaire businessman has expressed more liberal views, contributing to his lukewarm reception by some Republicans.
Trump also had been considering New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia.
“I don’t see Pence as a strong enough personality to keep Donald Trump in check,” Democrat Cobb-Hunter said. “Somebody like Newt Gingrich, yes. But I don’t see that in Pence.”
Former S.C. Gov. Jim Hodges said he doubts the vice presidential selection will have much impact, given Trump's managerial style, celebrity and rhetoric. He said voters will cast ballots for or against Trump — and feel strongly about it — because of Trump, not his running mate.
The vice presidential selection is "probably just going to be a trivia question for years to come," Hodges said. "It's hard to imagine that any vice presidential candidate would help or, frankly, hurt him.
"Given the nature of Trump, it's hard to imagine that any vice president would be a partner. They would be a subordinate."