Donald Trump has called Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and offered him the vice presidential slot on his ticket, CNN has learned. Pence has accepted.
The pick sets up a stark clash in styles: a brash presumptive nominee with a tendency to freelance into controversies alongside a cautious former congressional leader who’s stuck close to conservative orthodoxy since starting his career in talk radio.
Trump said Thursday evening he’s postponing the official announcement, previously set for Friday morning.
The Trump campaign is now planning to announce Friday that Pence will be Trump’s vice presidential pick, followed by the first joint event Saturday morning in Bedminster, New Jersey, CNN has learned.
Trump had been frustrated with all of reports of Pence’s selection while the real estate mogul was in California on a fundraising trip “six hours and three time zones away no less,” a one of his advisers told CNN Friday.
Trump did his best to keep the drama going Thursday after a frenetic day.
“I haven’t made my final, final decision,” he told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren Thursday evening. “I mean, I’ve got three people that are fantastic. I think Newt (Gingrich) is a fantastic person. I think Chris Christie is a fantastic person, been a friend of mine for 15 years. Just a fantastic person. And there’s Mike, and Mike has done a great job as governor of Indiana. You look at the numbers, and it’s been great — he’s done really a fantastic job. But I haven’t made a final, final decision.”
But speaking at a fundraiser in Los Angeles later in the evening, Trump said he had made his pick and the campaign was “ready to announce,” according to an attendee. Trump, however, did not say whom he had chosen.
On Wednesday, Trump held a series of auditions with Pence and other top contenders including Christie and Gingrich. And on Thursday, despite sources indicating to CNN that Trump was strongly leaning toward Pence, others in his inner circle — including Trump’s son, Donald Jr. — repeatedly urged caution.
But by early evening, Trump made the offer.
Trump had initially suggested he would wait until the Republican National Convention to unveil his vice presidential choice, but Indiana law forced his hand. Candidates can’t run for both federal and state office after July 15, meaning Pence had to withdraw his name from his re-election race for governor.
Pence’s selection gives Trump a running mate with strong ties to the Republican base — particularly social conservatives. He was among the first Republicans to embrace the tea party on Capitol Hill. And as governor of Indiana, he faced major political backlash over his decision to sign into law a “religious freedom” measure that infuriated major businesses that saw it as anti-LGBT.
In tapping Pence, Trump adds to the GOP ticket a politician with ties to the Koch brothers and other influential donors who have so far stayed away from Trump.
Pence is seen as a safe political option for Trump, who also considered candidates who mirror his big personality such as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. But Pence made clear this week that he’s more than willing to play the role of attack dog, strongly criticizing Hillary Clinton during a rally with Trump.
Clinton, Pence told the applauding crowd, “must never become president of the United States.”
Pence had endorsed Texas Sen. Ted Cruz over Trump before Indiana’s crucial early May primary — a contest Trump won, knocking Cruz from the contest and clinching the nomination.
Still, Pence heaped praise on Trump in the WIBC radio interview where he endorsed Cruz, pointing to Trump’s focus on Carrier, the Indianapolis air conditioning company that was shipping 2,100 jobs to Mexico.
Pence said Trump has “given voice to the frustration of millions of working Americans with the lack of progress in Washington, D.C.”
“Let me be very clear on this race: Whoever wins the Republican nation for president of the United States, I’m going to work my heart out to get elected this fall,” Pence said.
He hasn’t avoided criticizing Trump, though. He called Trump’s attacks on an Indiana-born judge of Mexican heritage “inappropriate,” and said his proposal to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the United States was “offensive and unconstitutional.”