Donald Trump: Mike Pence Was 'My First Choice' For VP
It's officially official.
On Saturday morning, just days before he heads to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Donald Trump announced that Indiana Gov. Mike Pence was his vice presidential pick.
"Indiana Gov. Mike Pence was my first choice. I've admired the work he's done, especially in the state of Indiana," Trump said at a news conference in midtown Manhattan. "I admire the fact that he fights for the people and he fights for you."
"He's a solid, solid person," the presumptive GOP nominee said of Pence, touting the ex-congressman's leadership of the House Republican Conference.
Despite Trump's original purpose for the news conference, it took over 30 minutes before Pence made an appearance at the podium, with Trump first going off on a winding tirade against Hillary Clinton, radical Islamic terrorism, and international trade deals.
"I saw how NAFTA has drained our manufacturing jobs... NAFTA is the worst economic deal in the history of the country," Trump said of the North American Free Trade Agreement, signed by former President Bill Clinton.
"It's a horror show," he added, noting that his vice presidential pick came after long study of Indiana and its manufacturing sector. Pence, however, strongly backed NAFTA while serving in Congress.
For his part, upon finally Trump at the press conference, Pence stuck to some battle-tested catch phrases from his days as a congressman.
"I come to this moment deeply humbled and with a grateful heart," Pence said. "People who know me well, know I'm a pretty basic guy: I'm a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican -- in that order."
The Indiana governor, who said he had received the news of Trump's pick in a Wednesday call, testified that the New Yorker was "a good man."
"I thank Donald trump, the confidence you placed in us, and I accept your invitation to run and serve as vice president of the United States of America," Pence said.
Trump's announcement came as no surprise, following a long week of teasing his veep pick.
On Wednesday night, Trump had tweeted that he would unveil his VP choice on Friday at 11 a.m.
Then, late Thursday evening, Trump postponed the scheduled Friday press conference – ostensibly because of the deadly Bastille Day truck attack in Nice, France, which resulted in the deaths and injuries of dozens.
By then, news had leaked that Pence was already slated for the No. 2 slot, with CBS News confirming reports about the Indiana governor.
And so Trump seemed to stick with his original plan: announce his veep pick Friday morning -- only this announcement came via Twitter:
I am pleased to announce that I have chosen Governor Mike Pence as my Vice Presidential running mate. News conference tomorrow at 11:00 A.M.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 15, 2016
Amid media reports that Trump had been having second thoughts about picking Pence as late as Thursday night, the billionaire tweeted on Saturday morning that the Indiana governor had been his "first choice from start":
Look forward to introducing Governor Mike Pence (who has done a spectacular job in the great State of Indiana). My first choice from start!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 16, 2016
Trump's other vice presidential contenders -- like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie -- have remained largely silent since Friday's veep announcement.
But in an interview with MSNBC a day before Trump's Twitter declaration, Christie admitted that he would be "a little bit" bothered if the veep job didn't fall to him.
"I mean, obviously, I'm a competitive person. So I'm not gonna say it won't bother me, if I'm not selected. Of course it bothers you a little bit," he said. '"Cause if you're a competitive person, like I am, and you're used to winning, like I am -- again, you don't like coming in second. Ever."
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