NEW YORK, July 18, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump officially introduced Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate on Saturday, with a focus on the economy and jobs, national security and the failed leadership of Democrat opponent Hillary Clinton.
“Mike Pence is a man of honor, character and integrity,” Trump said, in contrast to Clinton, whom he termed “the embodiment of corruption.”
“What a difference between crooked Hillary Clinton and Mike Pence,” Trump said.
Aside from drawing the character distinction from Clinton, the real estate magnate listed Pence’s fiscal record as Indiana governor and a strong approach to national security as reasons for selecting Pence, whom he said was his first choice.
“The turnaround, and the strength of Indiana, has been incredible,” Trump stated.
Pence’s name leaked out earlier in the week, with the Trump campaign downplaying the speculation, fueling rumors of discord with the choice.
Trump then postponed the scheduled official Friday announcement in the wake of Thursday’s Nice, France, terror attack. However, he still Tweeted his choice of Pence on Friday, before holding an official announcement Saturday, with Pence at his side.
Pence won’t be afraid to address the threat of terrorism, Trump said Saturday, and the ticket would also re-establish respect for law and order domestically.
Trump, referencing months of conflict between conservatives and Republicans over his candidacy, said that promoting unity within the Republican Party was another reason behind choosing Pence, who is regarded as conservative and pro-life,
Trump joked about how Pence first endorsed U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) over him, attributing Pence's endorsement to pressure from the Republican establishment.
“So even though he was under pressure,” Trump said, “because I’m so outside of the establishment, it was the single greatest non-endorsement I’ve ever had.”
While both Trump and Pence focused on economics and national security in the bulk of their remarks, Trump also revisited his promise from last month in a private meeting with evangelicals to repeal the Johnson Amendment, regarded by pastors as chilling to free speech through the threat of losing tax exempt status.
Trump thanked evangelicals for supporting him in his quest for the Republican nomination and reiterated his pledge to end the 1954 amendment forbidding churches from endorsing candidates.
“We’re going to get rid of that horrible Johnson amendment,” Trump said. “And we’re going to let Evangelicals, we’re going to let Christians and Jews and people of religion talk, without being afraid to talk.”
“Religion’s voice has been taken away,” he said, “and we’re going to change that.”
Trump subsequently introduced Pence as “a man who I truly believe will be outstanding in every way.”
Pence first expressed humility and gratitude to Trump for being chosen while thanking his family and spelling out his personal values.
“I truly am deeply humbled to be at his side today, and when I got this call last Wednesday, I could only think of that ancient question, “Who am I, oh Lord, and who is my family, that you have brought us this far? So let me try and answer that question.”
“People who know me know I’m a pretty basic guy,” Pence said. “I’m a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order.”
Pence said the most important thing in his life was marrying his wife Karen 31 years ago, and also that while the office of vice president was something extraordinary to aspire to, the highest role he will ever play is that of a father.
The Indiana Republican, who served the state in the U.S. Congress from 2001 to 2013 before becoming governor in 2013, recounted his time in Congress fighting Democrat economic policies and advocating for fiscal responsibility.
Pence answered the call to run for vice president for two reasons, he said. First, he accepted because firsthand experience tells him that strong Republican leadership can bring about real change, “and secondly, because Hillary Clinton must never become president of the United States of America.”
Trump’s choice of a running mate was the subject of significant speculation for social conservatives, with many concerned over the presumptive GOP nominee's fluctuating record and stances on life and marriage.
While Pence disappointed conservatives last year for backtracking on support for Indiana’s version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), the initial reaction from pro-life leaders at the national level to Pence as Trump’s running mate was positive when the news was first leaked, and Indiana pro-life leaders praised Trump’s choice.
“Gov. Pence is devoted to protecting the unborn and their mothers. Gov. Pence’s pro-life stance is more than a talking point,” Indiana Right to Life President Mike Fichter said in a statement. “Gov. Pence has put his pro-life position into action time and time again. Indiana is a better state for the unborn and their mothers because of the Governor’s pro-life leadership.”
Pence signed legislation in March banning abortion in the state based on sex, race of disability of the unborn child, and Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky (PPINK) recently announced the closure of six of its Indiana abortion facilities by year’s end.
Pro-abortion forces jumped to disparage the presumptive Republican ticket upon learning the news. NARAL Pro-Choice America said the Trump-Pence ticket would “Make Misogyny Great Again.” Planned Parenthood distributed an e-mail labeling Trump-Pence 2016 “the most hateful, divisive presidential ticket in generations.”
Cecile Richards, the abortion giant’s president, tweeted, “It's official: @realDonaldTrump picks Mike Pence for VP – one of the most anti-women's health, anti-LGBT politicians ever,” along with, “Any more questions about @realDonaldTrump's commitment to dragging this country back to the Stone Age?”
Clinton, who told a Planned Parenthood fundraising crowd in June that her presidential campaign “belongs” to Planned Parenthood staff, donors and abortionists, said in a Friday Politico report that that the choice of Pence was “the most extreme pick in a generation.” She is expected to name her running mate on Friday.