The idea of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump selecting Columbus native and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate has local friends and political colleagues excited about the opportunity.
Trump representatives said Thursday night that an announcement on his running mate is expected soon.
Pence made history for the city and Bartholomew County four years ago when he was elected the state’s 50th governor after serving 12 consecutive years in the United States House of Representatives. That victory represented the highest political achievement of a local resident.
If selected, Pence could be one election victory away from being part of the next administration to lead the Unites States.
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Speculation grew stronger about Pence as Trump’s choice on Tuesday when the governor hosted a private fundraiser in Indianapolis for the Republican nominee and stumped for him that night at a rally in Westfield, a northern suburb.
If the choice is Pence, he and Trump will try to defeat Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and her yet-to-be-named running mate in the November general election and succeed President Barack Obama in the White House.
Barb Hackman, the Bartholomew County Republican Party chairwoman, said picking Pence pick would be a wise choice because he brings qualities that balance the ticket and his experience as a congressman can help Trump navigate the political environment in Washington, the local GOP chairwoman said.
“They complement each other. Trump is very exuberant. He’s a TV guy; he had a reality show. Mike is a conservative, just a good, hometown boy,” Hackman said.
Pence also has the experience needed to step in as president, should that need arise, she said.
Like Hackman, state Rep. Milo Smith, R-Columbus, said he believes Pence would round out the GOP presidential ticket well.
Pence’s six terms in Congress and his experience as the No. 3-ranking Republican in the House, as chairman of the House Republican Conference, gives him valuable insight that would serve Trump well, Smith said. Pence’s congressional relationships would also help shepherd through legislation, Smith said.
Adding Pence to the Republican ticket would be a benefit because of his demeanor, Smith said.
“To my knowledge, he’s never once lost his temper and has stayed on point. That is an asset because of RFRA (Religious Freedom Restoration Act) and the definition of marriage and the issues he’s been the center of,” Smith said.
“A lot of people agree with Mike on those issues,” Smith said. “With Mike as VP, he has people that Donald Trump doesn’t have and will add them to the tally in November.”
Jeff Brown, former owner of The Republic and a close friend of Pence since their days at Columbus North High School — they were in each other’s weddings — said he thinks one reason Pence was open to becoming Trump’s running mate is a sense of duty to the country.
“He really is a patriot. He thinks a lot about the country and thinks a lot about the issues the country is faced with. I think he sees this with a sense of duty that was ingrained by his father, and a sense of patriotism,” Brown said.
In that regard, Brown said he’s thankful that there are people willing to run for president and vice president because the jobs are tough and require a lot of work, and the candidates face great scrutiny.
Serving as Trump’s running mate would be a great opportunity for Pence, Brown said.
“He’s an honest, nice guy and I think Trump sees that,” Brown said.