Gov. Mike Pence’s gamble paid off.
After joining one of the most unconventional political campaigns in modern history, the Indiana Republican will be the nation’s next vice president.
“This is a historic night,” Pence told the crowed at the New York Hilton Midtown shortly before 3 a.m. Wednesday. “The American people have spoken. And the American people have elected their new champion.”
And Pence could become one of the more influential vice presidents because he has the Washington experience and connections Trump lacks.
“In many respects, Mike is the guy who is going to fill in all the blanks and help make many of the policy items of the conservative movement a reality,” said Texas Rep. Jeb Hensarling, a close friend. “I think he would be one of the more active vice presidents possibly in the history of the republic, certainly in recent memory.”
Getting to the No. 2 job has been a long journey for a man who had to temporarily shelve his own presidential ambitions after a challenging first term as governor.
Pence faced a difficult re-election campaign when he agreed to be Donald Trump’s running mate instead.
But the rocky rollout of that choice came amid reports that Trump wanted someone else.
The New York Post and CNN recently reported that Trump had first offered the job to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie before Trump’s then-campaign manager and his children maneuvered to change his mind.
And as the campaign progressed, Pence continued to be alternately overshadowed by Trump and called on to try to reshape Trump’s comments into positions more palatable to voters.
At a town hall event in North Carolina in early August, a young man named Matthew told Pence he’d been watching the news and “noticing that you’ve been kind of softening up on Mr. Trump’s policies and words.”
“Is this going to be your role in the administration?” he asked.
Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union, said it’s not a problem that there were times Pence and Trump differed either on policies or how they explained their positions.
“Nobody doubts that Donald Trump is at the top of the ticket,” Schlapp said. “By the same token, Mike Pence has this governing experience which helps him understand the nuance of why a particular policy or a particular process is important.”
A former six-term congressman and member of House Republican leadership, Pence traveled to Capitol Hill during the campaign to assure lawmakers that Trump wanted “genuine collaboration” with them. Pence shared his cell phone number with lawmakers and urged everyone to use it.
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SOURCE: USA Today, Maureen Groppe