In choosing Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate, Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump chose an experienced politician who has defined himself as “a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order.”
In North Carolina, state Republican Party Chairman Robin Hayes recalled working with Pence and attending Bible study with him when both were members of Congress.
“He has a very, very strong Christian worldview,” Hayes told reporters at a news conference Friday. He described Pence as “a very solid conservative. His faith and family are critically important to him. That produces stability. It produces an anchor that is a good balance to sometimes maybe a little too much excitement. So we’ve come up with the right mix between those two personalities.”
North Carolina Republicans, for the most part, hailed the addition of a running mate with government experience to complement the anti-establishment Trump.
“It checks a lot of boxes for Trump,” said Francis De Luca, president of the conservative Civitas Institute in Raleigh.
De Luca called Pence “a governing choice,” and a selection that the GOP establishment likes.
Trump won North Carolina’s March primary, but U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas finished a strong second.
Pence’s views reflect those of North Carolina Republicans, De Luca said. “He’s kind of a full-spectrum conservative.”
Most state Republicans praised Pence for his experience, while a Democratic congressman said Pence magnifies the flaws in the GOP presidential ticket.
Gov. Pat McCrory called Pence “a good friend” and an effective legislator and governor.
Pence “understands the challenges facing states today, including unprecedented overreach from Washington, D.C., and the entire country will benefit from his experience and leadership,” McCrory said in a statement.
Paul Shumaker, a Republican political consultant, said Pence “is the kind of Republican that should help calm some nervousness in Republican ranks. He has a stable policy background. He’s been a governor. He’s been in Congress.”
In panning the pick, Democrats pointed to Pence championing efforts to cut federal funds to Planned Parenthood while serving six terms in Congress.
As governor in 2015, he signed Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which opponents said could lead to discrimination against LGBT people. After a backlash, he signed a law intended to prevent businesses from denying service to LGBT customers.
Numerous news reports earlier this year said the law cost Indiana $60 million in lost tourism revenue.
U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield, a Wilson Democrat and chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, referred to those costs in his statement denouncing the Pence pick.
“That should sound very familiar to the North Carolinians who have felt the economic damage that HB2 has caused to our state, as well as who could have benefited from the new jobs that HB2 has cost us,” Butterfield said.
A Republican congressman had a much different perspective.
Pence brings experience working on Capitol Hill, said U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry, a Republican deputy whip from Denver, N.C. McHenry said he and Pence served four terms together, and that he likes and respects Pence.
“He's conservative and articulate,” McHenry said.
But former state Supreme Court Justice Bob Orr, a delegate for Ohio Gov. John Kasich who is headed to the Republican convention, said the Pence selection doesn’t change his opposition to Trump.
“I don’t know Gov. Pence — I’m sure he’s a fine gentleman, but this is a Trump show,” Orr said. “I don’t think he (Pence) reflects the broader need for appeal that the party needs. Just how conservative and how far right can you go?”
Colin Campbell and Anna Douglas contributed.