For Pence to be an effective surrogate in 2020, campaign officials say his reputation must be preserved. If the goal is to build a winning coalition that includes seniors, suburban women and swing-state residents suffering from Trump fatigue, someone has to be the nice guy.
“Pence gives people confidence who lack comfort with our circus,” said a person close to Trump. “He helps provide stability, which is critical.”
It’s the same good cop, bad cop routine voters saw in 2016, but it will be even more pronounced on the campaign trail this cycle as the president’s team works to overcome an anti-Trump animus that has seeped into suburban pockets of electorally crucial states like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Much of the strategy is driven by internal data and public polling that Pence and campaign officials have paid close attention to since last year’s midterm elections, when the Republican Party lost its grip on many higher-income suburban areas.