He may not have the power or mystique of Dick Cheney, but it’s clear that Pence is already assuming a serious and workmanlike role as vice president-elect, shoring up Trump’s weaknesses in governing and intra-party relationships.
It was Pence who made the call on Trump’s behalf to make it clear the president-elect wanted Paul Ryan to remain speaker. It was Pence whose fingerprints are on the selection of at least four of the eight nominees to Trump’s administration so far — Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Georgia Rep. Tom Price, all of whom he quietly elevated behind the scenes. Seema Verma, Trump’s pick to head the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, worked with Pence to design Indiana’s Medicaid expansion.
And it was Pence who helped close the deal with Carrier, which marked the first de facto policy victory of the Trump administration, while his “Art of the Deal” president-elect swept in this week to claim credit before a frenzied audience.
Those assignments are a signal of the weighty role Pence is already playing, and they are serving as reassurance to anxious Republicans eager to see a conservative influence on the White House.