Another tale of woe from the rocky Trump/Pence marriage. The rebuttal here seems easy — enemies become allies in politics every day. But that typically applies to former candidates, like Chris Christie, lining up with their vanquishers after they’ve left the race. No one thinks twice about that because attacks on the stump are expected: Christie had to distinguish himself from Trump in the primaries to give himself a chance of winning so we can’t assume that his previous criticism of Trump was an expression of his true feelings.
Pence wasn’t a candidate, though. This was something supposedly said to Senor in confidence. If it’s true, it’s presumably how he really feels — or felt.
It's disorienting to have had commiserated w/someone re: Trump – about how he was unacceptable, & then to see that someone become Trump's VP
— Dan Senor (@dansenor) July 15, 2016
Any reason to believe Senor, a former Bush appointee and Romney advisor? Well, Pence did endorse another candidate in this year’s Indiana primary. He is conspicuously at odds with Trump on some key issues, most notably trade. That’s why he’s on the ticket — he’s a “unity” gesture to conservatives since Trump isn’t conservative himself. They’re polar opposites in personality, Pence a stolid socially conservative midwesterner and Trump a mercurial showman from Manhattan. And then there’s this from NRO’s preview of the Indiana primary in April:
Cruz would love to lock down Pence’s endorsement, knowing that the governor’s network could lend him a significant organizational edge in the state — just as Scott Walker’s did in Wisconsin. But sources say Pence — who loathes Trump, according to longtime friends who have spoken with the governor about the GOP front-runner — nonetheless has deep concerns about wading into the presidential race amid his own fight for re-election. (Pence’s office disputes that characterization of his feelings toward Trump.)
Pence is a movement conservative. Some movement conservatives do in fact loathe Trump, not just on the merits but as someone who’ll send the GOP careening towards the center (er, further towards the center) on virtually everything except immigration. Go figure that Pence might have shared those fears, right up until the moment he realized there might be something in it for him if he changed his tune.
He won’t be asked about this in his interview with Hannity tonight (the same Hannity who recently said he won’t be happy if anyone but Newt is named VP) but he probably will be asked on “60 Minutes.” What does he say? “Senor’s lying” is the simplest retort, but then reporters will want a reply from Senor and that keeps the story going. It would be savvier to say, “It’s true, I had my doubts about Donald at first, but he’s won me over these past few months with his strong message of, um … bashing free trade and whining about ‘Mexican’ judges.” I don’t know. That doesn’t really seem to work either. Maybe just citing Christie as an enemy turned ally is enough.
Here’s Paul Ryan, a longtime Pence pal and a big fan of picking him as VP, insisting that he’s confident that Trump is “going to endeavor to try” to change. By the same token, I guess, I plan to make an effort to make an attempt to donate to the GOP again in the future. Exit question: Did Ryan not see the interview a few days ago where Trump explicitly said he’s not going to change? That’s the whole point of putting Pence on the ticket. “Pence’s purpose,” wrote Peter Suderman, “is to serve as an ornamental reminder of the party as it existed before Trump’s run.” Exactly. Trump passed over the loose cannons Gingrich and Christie in favor of the boring, stable guy whom conservatives sort of like. What more do you want from him change-wise? Sheesh.