In a Friday morning tweet, presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump made official his selection of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence to be his running mate.
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
Also Friday morning, Pence formally withdrew from his re-election bid in the governor’s race, and the pair is planning a news conference Saturday at 11 a.m.
The news, first reported by Roll Call on Thursday, follows a process in which Trump vetted several top Republicans for the No. 2 spot.
Conservative leaders greeted the decision with enthusiasm, saying the Indiana governor, who served six terms in the House, has been a consistent champion of economic and social conservative causes.
Democrats quickly criticized the choice, calling Pence “incredibly divisive and unpopular” and pointing to what they consider extreme legislation he embraced in Indiana limiting access to abortion and opening the door to LGBT discrimination.
In addition to Pence, Trump had considered former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn for the No. 2 spot on his presidential ticket. Other contenders, including Sens. Bob Corker of Tennessee and Joni Ernst of Iowa, previously took themselves out of the running.
As the business mogul narrowed his choice to Pence, the two men spent time at both Trump’s golf resort in New Jersey in early July and at the Indiana governor’s mansion this week.
In addition to testing the men’s chemistry together, Trump was reportedly impressed with Pence’s calm demeanor, his experience on Capitol Hill and as a governor, and Pence’s potential to assist Trump in governing, should the ticket win in November.
Pence, 57, served 12 years in Congress, rising to the No. 3 post in the House Republican leadership , before leaving to run for Indiana governor in 2012. There, he faced criticism for his handling of a religious liberties law that many said would discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity. When he backpedaled in the face of boycotts, he angered some conservatives, as well.
“By picking Mike Pence as his running mate, Donald Trump has doubled down on some of his most disturbing beliefs by choosing an incredibly divisive and unpopular running mate known for supporting discriminatory politics and failed economic policies that favor millionaires and corporations over working families,” said John Podesta, campaign chair for Democratic presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton.
Republicans in Congress greeted the Pence’s possible return enthusiastically , saying Thursday he could improve Trump’s relations with Congress and with social conservatives.
“He fills in a lot of the blanks on the social conservative side of this and he gives a lot of confidence to the evangelical community in America, to the pro-life, to the pro-family people and to the constitutionalist,” Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King said.
Speaker Paul D. Ryan said he counts Pence as a friend. “Mike Pence comes from the heart of the conservative movement — and the heart of America,” he said in a statement. “I can think of no better choice for our vice-presidential candidate.”
David McIntosh, president of fiscally conservative Club for Growth, commended Pence for “his principled stands for economic conservatism.”
“Mike was a leader on Capitol Hill against bailouts, Obamacare, and tax hikes,” McIntosh said in a statement. “He has been a strong supporter of free trade agreements, and he stood up to his own party’s leadership against the expansion of the entitlement state.”
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., was not so complimentary.
“Selecting Mike Pence as VP is just the latest admission that the Trump Agenda owes all its worst ideas to the House Republican Conference,” she said in a statement.
The AFL-CIO blasted Pence as the “wrong choice for working families.” President Richard Trumka said in a statement. “Congratulations to Donald Trump on the second worst Vice Presidential pick in history.” He did not specify who the worst choice was.
The White House had a different take.
“You mean the TPP-supporting, Medicaid-supporting Mike Pence?” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest quipped, referring to President Barack Obama’s massive trade pact with Asia, which Trump opposes and for which Pence has signaled support, as well as Pence’s work as governor with the White House on Medicaid to the chagrin of some Republicans.
Alex Clearfield, Kate Ackley, Lindsey McPherson, John T. Bennett and Roll Call Columnist Patricia Murphy contributed.