NEW YORK: Donald Trump on Saturday formally introduced his pick for vice president Mike Pence as a “solid” and “highly talented” man in their first public appearance on a joint ticket for the White House.
The New York billionaire, set to be crowned Republican presidential candidate at the party’s national convention in Cleveland next week, called the 57-year-old Indiana governor “a solid, solid person”. Trump insisted Pence was his first choice despite lingering media reports that he had considered changing his mind up to the last minute.
Following a more than 20-minute speech in which Trump frequently deviated from Pence, the two men shared the spotlight for only the briefest of moments when Pence walked out and they shook hands, and again after Pence had finished speaking and was joined by Trump and both families.
Trump explained his choice by praising the governor’s fiscally conservative policies and his election in Indiana’s Republican primary, which defied predictions from the party establishment.
Pence had served “with distinction” in Congress and as the chairman of the House Republican Conference — in effect party number three — Trump said, adding that he has “the skills of a highly talented executive”.
Although Indiana is part of the rust belt, which has lost manufacturing jobs overseas, Trump said Pence had brought down unemployment, created jobs, balanced the budget and made the state’s largest income tax cut.
“I introduce a man who I truly believe will be outstanding in every way and who will be the next vice president of the United States, Governor Mike Pence,” Trump told the event in New York.
Taking the podium, Pence called Trump “a good man” who “will make a great president. I come to this moment deeply humbled but with a grateful heart,” he said. “Grateful to God for his amazing grace.”
He presented his new boss’s outsider status as an asset, saying the real estate tycoon “understands the frustrations and the hopes of the American people like no leader since Ronald Reagan. We’re tired of being told that a little intellectual elite in a far distant capital can plan our lives better for us … Donald Trump gets it.”
In foreign policy, Trump would lead from strength, Pence said. “He will rebuild the arsenal of democracy, stand with our allies and hunt down and destroy the enemies of our freedom.”
On finishing, Pence was embraced by members of his family, shook hands again with Trump and was kissed by the tycoon’s daughters before the two candidates stood side-by-side rather stiffly.