Donald Trump formally announced Saturday that Indiana Gov. Mike Pence will be his running mate.
Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, said in a lengthy speech at the New York Hilton Midtown hotel that Indiana’s economy was the main reason he chose Pence. The billionaire mogul reportedly had second thoughts about choosing Pence, but on Saturday, he sought to quash any speculation that he had doubts.
“Indiana Gov. Mike Pence was my first choice,” Trump said. “He is a solid, solid person.”
Pence was elected governor of Indiana in 2012. He previously served 12 years in Congress. Pence on the ticket could help build bridges with social conservatives in Congress who have been wary of the GOP nominee.
Bringing the party together was one factor in Trump’s decision.
“One of the reasons is party unity, I have to be honest,” said Trump.
But Trump said the main reason, “other than he looks very good,” was Indiana’s economic recovery.
“The turnaround and the strength of Indiana has been incredible and I learned that when I campaigned there,” Trump said.
Trump had originally planned to announce his vice presidential pick Friday, but postponed the formal announcement due to a terrorist attack in Nice, France on Thursday. Trump instead took to Twitter Friday to announce that Pence would be his running mate.
Trump referenced the terrorist attack while introducing Pence.
“Mike Pence will never be afraid to speak the name of our enemy: radical Islam, radical Islamic terrorism,” he said.
The real estate tycoon began reading from prepared remarks, but at several points, he appeared to go off script on tangents about evangelical voters, presumptive Democratic rival Hillary Clinton’s private email server, and his construction project at the Old Post Office Pavilion in the District of Columbia. The two candidates spent little time on stage together Saturday.
Just before Pence took the stage, Trump referred to the governor’s endorsement of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz ahead of the Indiana primary.
Pence was “under tremendous pressure from establishment people,” to endorse someone else, Trump said. “It was really an endorsement for me.”
The Indiana governor took the stage after Trump’s 30-minute speech and spoke about his background, including his time in Congress. He praised the GOP standard-bearer as a “good man” who “will make a great president” and called for the Republican Party to unite behind him.
“For the sake of our security, for the sake of our prosperity, for the sake of the Supreme Court that will never turn its back on our God-given liberties, let’s come together,” Pence said. “As a party and a people and a movement to make America great again.
Due to Indiana election laws, Pence had to end his gubernatorial re-election bid. He withdrew his name from the ballot Friday. Several Republicans have jumped into the race for Indiana governor , which could shake up congressional races in the Hoosier State.
The announcement comes two days before Republicans gather in Cleveland for their nominating convention.
The Clinton campaign responded to the formal announcement with a statement from spokeswoman Christina Reynolds.
“We were prepared to respond with the many ways in which Mike Pence is the most extreme pick in a generation — a doubling down of Trump’s divisive rhetoric and policies,” the statement said. “But after publicly waffling over his own choice, Trump spent more time today making false attacks on Hillary Clinton — several of which could also be leveled against Pence — and talking about his own businesses than his own running mate.”
Reynolds added, “It turns out, you can force Trump to make a choice and give him a speech, he’s always going to be Trump.”