Donald Trump finally did it. This morning, he made his “final, final decision” for vice president although he made conflicting announcements yesterday. It was a twisted journey. First Trump said that he had chosen Indiana governor Mike Pence as his running mate, and then he disavowed that decision before then polished off the day at an LA fundraiser with another confirmation of Pence. In the meantime, he postponed today’s announcement because of at least 84 deaths killed by a truck driving through Bastille Day celebrants in Nice, France.
Picking Pence meant that Trump had to decide by noon day because it was the deadline for Pence to withdraw his paperwork to run again for governor. Trump said that he was putting off a formal announcement because of the tragedy in France, showing that terrorists’ actions dictate U.S. events under the GOP presumptive presidential candidate’s control. The disaster didn’t stop Trump from several Fox network appearances and his fundraiser, and his shifts made him look indecisive.
After the Nice attack, Trump called for a formal declaration of war and a commitment of NATO troops in a “world war.” NATO is an organization that Trump wants to eliminate. Still hoping to be picked as the VP, Newt Gringrich went much farther, testing “every person here who is of a Muslim background” regarding whether they believe in Shariah. Anyone who says they do should be deported, even if they U.S. citizens, according to Gingrich. He went further by declaring that anyone visiting any website “favoring ISIS or al Qaeda or other terrorist groups” should be guilty of a felony and “go to jail.”
In the past, Pence criticized Trump’s racist comments about Muslims and a judge of Mexican descent, but the rest of his views are hardline conservative. The man most likely to be the choice for 2016 GOP VP candidate is the most right-wing vice presidential nominee of the modern era. Four years ago, researcher Nate Silver described House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), chosen by Mitt Romney as his VP pick, as “the most conservative Republican member of Congress to be picked for the vice-presidential slot since at least 1900.” His chart showed Ryan’s record put him slightly to the right of Dick Cheney, who was slightly to the right of Dan Quayle.
Pence is well to the right of Paul Ryan. In his first term in Congress, he ranked #428 out of 435 members of the House. That ranking stayed about the same for his next term before he then moved to #432 and stayed there for the rest of his congressional record. That puts him to the right of Michele Bachmann (MN), Todd Akin (MO), Steve King (IA), and Louie Gohmert (TX). During his time on Capitol Hill, Pence was never a chief sponsor of a bill that became law. Trump has claimed that he may resign if he’s elected; Pence would then become U.S. president. Yet Silver called Pence, Trump’s “least worst choice.”
These are some Pence positions:
LGBT Issues: During his years as a legislator, Pence pushed constitutional amendments to define marriage between a man and a woman, opposed legislation making violence against gay people a hate crime, refused to fund HIV/AIDS programs that “celebrate” a gay lifestyle, and voted against a bill to stop LGBT discrimination in employment. He protected Indiana businesses that discriminated against LGBT people, a law that took millions of dollars from the state’s economy and gave the state a negative view by the majority of people in the U.S.
Immigration: Pence voted to put a wall on the U.S. southern border, end birthright citizenship to those he deems as “anchor babies, and require that hospitals report undocumented patients to immigration officials. His 2006 immigration “compromise” bill offered no amnesty to immigrants living in the U.S. Last year when Syrian refugees fled their country for their lives, Pence banned state agencies from bringing Syrian refugees into Indiana and tried to eliminate federal aid to immigrants already in the state. A federal judge blocked Pence’s action.
Social Security/Medicare: Pence’s plans for slashing and privatizing these programs are so conservative that he criticized George W. Bush’s privatization plan because it wasn’t radical enough.
Poor People: As Indiana’s representative in Congress, he voted against raising the minimum wage, expanding health coverage for low-income kids, and providing additional funding for Section 8 vouchers to help low-income families pay rent.
Prison Rape: Pence refused to comply with federal rules to reduce prison rape.
Climate Change: As a Flat-Earth science denier, Pence said, “Global warming is a myth” and thinks that coal technology is “clean.”
Health: According to Pence, smoking isn’t harmful to health because only one-third of smokers die from a smoking-related illness.
Guns: As governor, Pence signed bills allowing guns in school parking lots and depriving people of the right to sue gun dealers who negligently or intentionally sell guns to felons.
Drugs: He proposed that even the smallest quantity of cannabis possession should be a felony rather than a misdemeanor.
Choice: Indiana has some of the most restrictive anti-abortion laws in the nation, thanks to Pence’s leadership. Some of these are so dangerous that even some GOP legislators refused to vote for them. Indiana holds doctors liable if they perform abortions based on the disability of the fetus, a law that has now been blocked in the courts. Pence led the country in a war on Planned Parenthood. His defunding PP in Indiana caused clinic closures that did not perform abortions but did provide STD testing. The result was an enormous HIV outbreak. Pence cosponsored legislation to ban common forms of contraception, voted to give separate legal status to an embryo or fetus, and signed into a law a bill prohibiting abortion coverage in the entire private-insurance market. The law also makes fetal-tissue donation a felony and requires any aborted or miscarried fetus to be cremated or buried. Other restrictions on abortion providers are almost identical to the ones found unconstitutional in Texas.
Environment: Pence states that he puts the “health of the economy” above the health of the environment.
Religion: Pence describes himself as “a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order.”
Free Trade: Trump has made a stand against the Trans-Pacific Partnership and all former free-trade agreements. Yet former Rep. Mike Pence voted for every free-trade agreement that came before him—China, Colombia, South Korea, Panama, Peru, Oman, Chile, Singapore, and the Central American Free Trade Agreement, or CAFTA. Pence also voted to keep the United States in the World Trade Organization and has supported the TPP that Trump compares to rape.
War: While a member of the U.S. House, Pence made 56 speeches on the House floor to defend the Iraq War and delivered 15 that declared “victory” in Iraq.
Media Control: Like Trump who has banned reporters from several prominent news sources from his press conference, Pence believes in managing the media. Unfortunately for him, he had to abandon his plans in 2015 to run a state-operated news outlet that would have power over news.
The Koch brothers will now have to struggle with whether to support the Trump/Pence duo. Charles Koch called the choice between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump as voting for either “cancer or a heart attack,” and David H. Koch pulled his $1 million donation to the GOP convention. Yet they have donated a great deal of money to the campaign of the born-again Christian chosen as the GOP VP candidate. It may not be enough: the Koch brothers’ Freedom Works claims that it is still concentrating on the Senate elections.
Evangelical leader Tony Perkins still questions Pence’s cred because he agreed to amend the LGBT discrimination act—although the amendment still allowed discrimination. Even so, Pence is lucky to get out of Indiana because he would most likely lose a re-election as governor. He isn’t lucky to be the GOP vice-president for 2016. Hours after the leak about his choice, Trump was asking if he could unpick Pence and get someone else. Maybe he figured out that people voted for him because he’s not a politician, and Pence is the consummate Washington insider.
Meanwhile, people on the internet are having a great deal of fun with the penetrating image chosen for the Trump/Pence alliance logo. Samantha Bee’s take on it is just one example.