US Republican VP candidate and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
WASHINGTON – Without the typical flare for which he is known, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump announced Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate over the weekend, ahead of the party’s convention on Monday.
Trump’s decision to tap Pence – a conservative Christian figure known for his stance against gay rights, skepticism over climate change and early embrace of the grassroots Tea Party Movement – was initially leaked by Trump’s aides, before he apparently waffled on the vice presidential selection.
US media outlets report that Trump questioned his choice well into Thursday night, after the leak: Pence is a safe pick, Trump’s political advisers argued, if not the candidate’s gut choice.
The GOP nominee ultimately confirmed his decision on Twitter, and paired the message with a fund-raising email featuring a new Trump-Pence campaign logo. He formally debuted Pence as his running mate on stage in an appearance on Saturday.
Despite Trump’s vacillating, their appearance together settles the greatest question entering the Republican National Convention this week, where Trump will formally receive the nomination as the party’s standard-bearer.
Attention now turns to the convention itself in Cleveland, where Trump hopes for a television event that is both smooth and entertaining.
Another important question that was settled last week: Whether the convention’s Rules Committee would experience a coup d’etat by anti- Trump forces, who sought to free delegates from their obligations to vote for the New York real estate tycoon. They failed by a significant margin in this effort.
National law enforcement has worked with Cleveland police since 2014 in preparation of the event, setting up multi-layered security parameters, training for crowd and rally control, and clearing all attendees for arena entry through the Secret Service.
Concerns over violence remain nevertheless, given the recent history of clashes at Trump campaign events.
A litany of items, from umbrellas to tennis balls to water cannons, are explicitly banned from the convention center vicinity. Guns are allowed, however: Ohio’s open-carry laws protect residents’ rights to bear arms in public.
Jewish groups are expected to leave light footprints at both conventions this year. The American Jewish Committee, American Israel Public Affairs Committee and the Jewish Federations of North America all plan on keeping low profiles, despite Trump touting the GOP’s adoption of a policy platform that is “the most pro-Israel of all time!” Rabbi Haskel Lookstein – the rabbi of Trump’s Jewish daughter, Ivanka – had been listed to speak at the convention, but announced he would not do so last week.
“The whole matter turned from rabbinic to political,” Lookstein said in a statement, “something which was never intended.”