Choosing Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as a running mate might be Donald Trump's smartest decision to date.
The New York Times reports that the Indiana governor is known for his steadfast “unimpeachable conservative credentials,” a quality that could help gain trust from congress members who have been hesitant to offer support to the GOP presumptive nominee.
Many Republican Senate and House Representatives have considered voting for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton because of Trump’s unreasonable policies and statements regarding race and immigration. The advantage of adding Pence to the Trump campaign is that he is a well-favored voice in the House and has a seemingly more reasonable take on diversity in America.
Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, a Republican who has not expressed support for Trump, said, “I hope that Mike Pence can help change Donald Trump's positions, particularly as it relates to his statements about Hispanics. I hope Mike Pence can be a good influence.”
After accusing Mexicans of being rapists, voicing distrust of Muslims, and suggesting there be a wall built around the United States, Trump needs to make amends and decrease racial tensions with groups he has offended during his campaign. Though it will prove to be a tough job, Pence might be able to help.
In December of 2015, Pence tweeted that Trump’s “calls to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. are offensive and unconstitutional.”
GOP members hope that Pence will influence Trump to tone down his drastic proposals. RNC chairman Reince Priebus told CNN reporters that Trump has “pivoted” away from his original policy suggestions.
Trump’s website, however, still showcases the presidential candidate’s call for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on.”
Advice from Pence could be the necessary catalyst for a real pivot in Trump’s policies. At the very least, he may be able to prevent Trump from making offensive comments in the future.
Pence also might help Trump earn the nod of older, more traditional Republican voters who, like congressional representatives, hesitate to put full trust in Trump.
Pence has a history of expressing strict opinions on abortion and marriage rights. According to The New York Times, he has advocated for a decrease in funding for Planned Parenthood and initiated bills that have been critiqued as discriminatory toward the LGBTQ community.
Fortune notes that Pence has significant ties to the Koch brothers’ network. Their donations to the Trump/Pence campaign could be extremely beneficial in the months leading up to November.
Pence’s greatest strength is his contrast to Trump. When compared to the loud-mouthed extremist who has a history of heavy media attention, Pence is a quietly persistent conservative with strict views and favorable relations in Congress.
Pence might be the best thing going for the GOP right now. Though it may seem as if nothing and no one could possibly save Trump at this point, it's clear that Pence is his best shot.