On Thursday, after Roll Call first reported the likely GOP presidential nominee would soon name the Republican governor as his No. 2, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest slyly noted Pence had worked with the administration to expand Medicaid coverage.
[ Can U.S. Heal After Shootings? 'I Don't Know,' Obama Says ] A day later, after a Trump tweet made the Pence pick official, Earnest was ready with a quip when he briefed reporters.
"You mean the TPP-supporting, Medicaid -expanding Mike Pence?” Earnest quipped with a sly grin.
He was referring to the White House's proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) with Asian countries and the domestic health program for low-income people.
As the chuckles from the White House press corps died down, Earnest deadpanned: “No, I don't have any comment.”
Pence has been a pro-trade governor who argues global trade means jobs for American workers and helps bolster U.S. security. As a House member, he praised such free trade deals as the still-controversial North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) , and took to the floor to speak about its benefits for Indiana -- including boosting corn exports.
[ Pence as Trump VP Pick Scrambles Indiana Politics ] As governor, Pence responded to the passage of President Barack Obama ’s signature health law in 2011 by accepting the additional federal funding it offered for his state’s version of Medicaid. Sure, he sold his approach as a conservative one that slapped new restrictions on how poor people could access the new dollars -- but he also angered many conservatives in Indiana and beyond.
The White House appears happy to help presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton by pointing out issues on which Pence and Trump don’t appear to see eye-to-eye -- and, perhaps worse for the GOP ticket, when the governor has agreed with Obama.