Mike Pence doesn't have to be attack dog as Trump running mate

Indiana governor balances GOP ticket and satisfies base

By Jim Niedelman | jniedelman@whbf.com

Published 07/25 2016 07:30PM

Updated 07/25 2016 07:30PM

Donald Trump's decision to go with Indiana Governor Mike Pence as his running mate sits well with the Republican establishment.

Trump was there with a little air kiss for Pence at the end of his debut on the national political stage.

He's a very different personality than the man at the top of the ticket. That's something that wasn't lost on the governor during his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention.

"You know, he's a man known for a large personality. A colorful style and lots of charisma so I guess he was just looking for balance on the ticket," said Republican Vice Presidential Nominee Mike Pence. "People in both parties are restless for change. Ready to break free of old patterns in Washington. Democrats are about to anoint someone who represents everything this country is tired of. You know, Hillary Clinton wants a better title and I would too if I was already America's Secretary of the Status Quo. Now if you know anything about Hoosiers you know we love to suit up and compete. We play to win. That's why I joined this campaign in a heartbeat. You have nominated a man for president who never quits. Never backs down. A fighter. A winner."

Running mates typically play the role of attack dog in presidential campaigns. Pence comes off as a lot more mild mannered than Trump, but that doesn't mean he can't be effective.

That topic came up during a discussion with Democratic Events Organizer Kevin Perkins, Augustana College Political Communications Professor Meg Kunde and former Iowa Republican Party Chair Steve Grubbs on 4 the Record.

"I don't think the ticket needs an attack dog," said former Iowa GOP Chair Steve Grubbs. "The one thing you don't want is a vice president who distracts from the top of the ticket, the message that you're trying to get out and Pence is a safe choice from that. He's reliable, he's well spoken, he's bright. I think he brings a lot to the ticket."

"On policy, he can be an effective attack dog absolutely," said Democratic events organizer Kevin Perkins. "I think with Mike Pence what you get is the Koch brothers political connections, because he's connected to them, you get the religious right."

The convention put Mike Pence in front of a national audience for the first time. He needed to capitalize on his introduction to voters across the country.

"I think he did fine," said Augustana College Political Communications Professor Meg Kunde. "I think he did what he had to do. He was personable and I agree he doesn't have to be the attack. That's not his role here."

It wasn't all good for the Donald Trump at the convention. There was the floor fight by the anti-Trump movement over the adoption of the rules in an effort to block his nomination. Melania Trump's speech took liberties by adopting some of Michelle Obama's speech from 2008. And, Ted Cruz did not get in line and explicitly endorse the Republican nominee.

Republicans don't want these things to cast a shadow on the rest of the campaign.

"We'll know for certain in a couple of days," Grubbs said. "The average post-convention bounce from Gallup is six percent since 1964 so it will be interesting to see what happens with Trump here. But, overall, I thought it was a convention that got a lot of attention the nominee got his message out."

"I think what we saw here was more unification through division," Kunde said. "Now that Trump has given his speech, hopefully we'll look ahead to the general election and hopefully we'll look at policy."

"We'll have to see after the Democratic convention because they're going to utilize some of these missteps and capitalize on those," Perkins said. "It will be interesting to see how the Democrats go after him and how they try to drive his negatives even higher."

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