Donald Trump’s vice presidential pick hasn’t seen eye-to-eye with him on key issues animating the Republican’s campaign, including free trade and banning Muslims.
Pence, the governor of Indiana, has called for “swift adoption” of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact with Asian countries. “Trade means jobs, but trade also means security,” he wrote on Twitter in September 2014.
Trump, by contrast, has made opposition to free-trade deals a centerpiece of his campaign, blasting the TPP as “disastrous,” “terrible” and “a continuing rape of our country” by special interests.
In December 2015, Pence joined a cadre of Republican officials in rebuking Trump’s controversial proposal to prohibit Muslims from entering the United States, which won the support of a large majority of GOP voters and boosted Trump in the primaries.
“Calls to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. are offensive and unconstitutional,” Pence wrote on Twitter at the time. “Our Constitution guarantees the free exercise of religion. The U.S. cannot discriminate on the basis of religion.”
Trump recently doubled down on the proposal after a shooting last month that killed 49 at an Orlando night club by a Muslim believed to be a terrorist sympathizer.
Trump and Pence also have subtle, but pronounced differences on social issues. Unlike Trump, Pence, who is widely known as a culture warrior, wants to make abortion illegal even in cases of rape and incest, and cosponsored a highly controversial proposal in 2011 to redefine rape cases connected to abortion laws as “forcible rape.”
Unlike Trump, Pence has also pushed for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, an issue the presumptive nominee barely mentions at rallies and in public appearances.
Still, Pence’s credibility with evangelical Christians-a group that has mixed feelings for Trump-along with his tax-cutting record as governor and anti-spending record as a congressman are key assets he’d bring to the Republican ticket. Trump’s image is shaky with movement conservatives, with whom Pence has closely associated throughout his 15-year career. Pence also has a foothold with establishment Republicans, with whom Trump has had a contentious-if not outright hostile-relationship. Numerous Senate Republicans rushed to praise the governor as a welcome addition to the ticket.
Though vice presidential picks tend not to be a major determinant for voters, many of Trump’s supporters embrace Pence’s more hardline positions on religious freedom and abortion, and the selection could solidify support among Republicans who have doubted their presumptive nominee’s conservative bona fides. Conversely, Pence’s support for free-trade and opposition to banning Muslims immigrants from entering the U.S. may raise questions for a different contingent of Trump fans.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest tried on Thursday to cheekily poke at Pence’s support on the right, telling reporters that Pence “did important work with the administration to expand Medicaid in his state” under the Affordable Care Act.
Along with domestic policy, Trump and Pence have had disagreements on foreign policy.
Pence voted in 2002 to authorize the war in Iraq, which Trump has attacked presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton for supporting when she was in the Senate. (Trump often says he opposed the war from the start, though there’s evidence he voiced support for it in 2002.)
While Trump has been arguing Saddam Hussein was good at “killing terrorists” and implying he didn’t pose a threat to the U.S., Pence reportedly said before the war that “Hussein is a threat to America’s national security and to world stability.”
Trump wasn’t Pence’s first choice in the 2016 Republican primary. In April, before the Indiana primary, the governor endorsed Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, although his endorsement was famously tepid and laced with praise for Trump that likely helped his vice presidential prospects after Trump clinched the nomination.
(c) 2016, Bloomberg · Sahil Kapur