“The moment Trump chooses his vice presidential candidate,” wrote super-fan Ann Coulter last week, “every person in the media will be handed a personalized crowbar to pry daylight between Trump his nominee.” That’s why, she argued, it’s important for Trump not to pick a “typical Republican.” The prying will simply be too easy. Trump should pick a nationalist who’ll defend his initiatives with gusto, not because he’s suddenly accepted a job that requires him to.
Let the prying begin!
Trade means jobs, but trade also means security. The time has come for all of us to urge the swift adoption of the Trans Pacific Partnership
— Governor Mike Pence (@GovPenceIN) September 8, 2014
That’s not a one-off thing. Pence is on the ticket because he’s a dogmatic conservative, designed to make dogmatic conservative voters feel more comfortable with Trump, but dogmatic conservatism means support for free trade. Pence has supported it for a long, long time:
Pence backed trade agreements with Colombia, South Korea, Panama, Peru, Oman, Chile and Singapore during his House tenure from 2001 through 2012. He voted for the Central American Free Trade Agreement, or CAFTA.
He voted to keep the United States in the World Trade Organization and to maintain permanent normal trade relations with China, the country Trump repeatedly criticizes for unfair trade practices and threatens with tariffs to boost U.S. job creation.
Pence also has publicly supported the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement of Pacific Rim nations, an agreement negotiated by the Obama administration which Trump opposes and has likened to rape.
Hey, you can’t expect a president and VP to agree on everything. It’s perfectly normal that a trade deal the VP might see as crucial to security is viewed by the president as, uh, rape.
Hopefully they’ll get their story straight before the big “60 Minutes” interview on Sunday night. Oh, and on this too:
Calls to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. are offensive and unconstitutional.
— Governor Mike Pence (@GovPenceIN) December 8, 2015
They’ve always been in sync on touchback amnesty so they’ve got that going for them at least. In fairness to Trump, he’s doing the prudent thing for once with the biggest decision of his campaign in choosing a “safe” candidate like Pence. There’s modest upside to it, as it could help a bit with party unity (although probably only a bit), but there’s virtually no downside to it. Pence won’t upstage Trump, as Newt and Christie might have, and he’s so poorly known among the wider electorate that he does no harm. Picking him is the closest thing to picking no VP at all, which I’m sure would have been Trump’s preference. Look at it this way: How many dogmatic conservatives with plenty of experience on the Hill and some name recognition among conservative activists were out there and amenable to joining the ticket? Most full-spectrum conservatives like Mike Lee and Ted Cruz disdain Trump and wouldn’t want to risk their future prospects by joining forces with him. Pence was perfectly positioned in that he had the conservative cred Trump wanted and was precariously positioned via his gubernatorial race to make him open to becoming VP. Trump made the safe play, no doubt at Paul Manafort’s urging. It’s uncharacteristically boring of him, but it’s not necessarily wrong.
Except, of course, to the extent that there’s a total mismatch between nationalism and conservatism on some of Trump’s core issues, like trade.
Oh well. Something for everyone on this year’s ticket! Here’s the next vice president of the United States singing songs of love about NAFTA as a young congressman in 2001.