U.S. ELECTION WRAP: Pence Pick May Signal Start of ‘Safe Trump’

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Indiana Governor Mike Pence take the stage during a campaign rally in Westfield, Indiana, on July 12, 2016.

Photographer: TASOS KATOPODIS/AFP/Getty Images

Amid a barrage of news reports that Donald Trump will tap Indiana Governor Mike Pence as his running mate, that choice may signal a more cautious course for the billionaire businessman-turned-reality-TV star-turned-almost presidential nominee.

  • A Trump-Pence ticket would offer “some reassurance to Republicans that maybe there will be a little more stability and standard-brand conservatism in the Trump campaign,” Allan Lichtman, a political history professor at American University in Washington, said in an interview
  • Pence wouldn’t be a “risky” choice, as other potential running-mate picks such as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich or N.J. Governor Chris Christie, Lichtman said
  • Political analyst Stuart Rothenberg appeared underwhelmed in gauging the overall enthusiasm Pence is likely to arouse:
    • “If Pence is the VP pick, he is likely to help Trump carry others in the Pence family,” according to a Rothenberg Tweet
  • While Pence as the VP nominee would assuage some party concerns about Trump, it “absolutely doesn’t matter” in terms of who wins the White House in November: Lichtman
  • In 1988, when George H.W. Bush tapped then Indiana Senator Dan Quayle to be his running mate, everyone said it would be a “disaster,” Lichtman said
    • But Bush went on to win a “fairly handy victory,” even after Quayle was on losing end of “maybe the most embarrassing debate moment ever,” referring to Democrat Lloyd Bentsen’s “You’re no Jack Kennedy” comeback
  • As of mid-afternoon, the Trump camp insisted no final decision had been made on the veep pick and the official announcement is still set for tomorrow at 11 a.m. in Manhattan
  • One Republican close to Pence said the campaign is preparing to announce Pence, but that a last-minute change of heart was possible, Bloomberg’s Jennifer Jacobs reported
  • Bloomberg's Sahil Kapur takes a look at Pence's record during his 12 years serving in the U.S. Congress 
  • Gingrich detailed Trump’s VP vetting process on a video posted on Facebook



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  • Social media lit up with reaction to the prospect of Pence as Trump’s running-mate choice

    • Vox outlined a series of Twitter posts in which Pence has disagreed with Trump
    • David Axelrod: Pence “is rational pick. An offering to conservatives; evangelicals. But how will Pence fare in the parry and thrust VP role demands?”
    • Ann Coulter: “Withholding comment until it’s official, but if claims about Pence as VP are correct, boy was I right about this being Trump’s first mistake”
    • Bill Kristol: “Mike Pence was an eloquent and knowledgeable defender of the Iraq war and the surge. Will he stick to his guns as Trump’s VP?”
    • Harry Shearer: “A Trump-Pence for your thoughts.”
    • Ben Shapiro: “Mike Pence blew all his conservative credibility over Religious Freedom Restoration Act in Indiana. What a nothingburger.”
    • Michelle Malkin: “Reminder of how bad Mike Pence is on #CommonCore”
    • Norman Ornstein: “Why Pence over Gingrich, Christie? One-syllable name. Trump believes that is a sign of strength.”
    • Dan Pfeiffer: “Things I am sure of: 1. Trump knows less about Pence than the media or the Clinton campaign; 2. He has no operation set up to defend Pence”


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  • Hillary Clinton campaigned this afternoon with Virginia Senator Tim Kaine, widely seen as her “safe choice” as a running mate, Reuters wrote
    • Kaine is fluent in Spanish, experienced in foreign policy and has executive experience as a former Virginia governor and mayor of that state’s capital, Richmond
  • On Saturday, Clinton will make a “policy announcement” via video address to Netroots Nation’s annual convention in St. Louis
    • Clinton aides will appear on panels at the group’s gathering to discuss the “progressive agenda” and Democratic unity


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  • Clinton has lost her national lead over Trump, according to a CBS/New York Times poll that shows them tied at 40%
    • In June, Clinton led Trump in the survey, 43%-37%
    • Adding Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson to the mix, he gets 12% while Clinton and Trump remain tied at 36% each
  • “It’s not surprising that Hillary would take a hit after the toughest weeks of her campaign,” said Lichtman, who has correctly predicted the outcome of every presidential election since 1984
    • He referred to FBI Director James Comey’s comments last week on the investigation into Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server while secretary of state, which were “as bad as could be” for her, short of an indictment: Lichtman
  • Just 19% of Hispanic voters support Trump, while 67% support Clinton, according to a Univision poll
    • Trump would need support of at least 40% of Hispanics to win election, according to the Spanish-language media outlet


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  • Trump’s big-money backers are struggling to raise money, Bloomberg’s Zachary Mider reported
    • Latest setback is billionaire Thomas Barrack’s decision not to donate to any super-PAC
  • President Obama will fundraise for Clinton in Aug. in N.C., the Atlanta-Journal Constitution reported
    • Invitation obtained by the newspaper said fundraiser will be held at home of Andy Prozes, former CEO of LexisNexis Group, and Laura Heery, architect and strategist
    • Attending costs $33k, while donating $100k will buy attendees title of co-chair


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  • Hillary for America released an anti-Trump ad showing children watching Trump speak on TV
    • Ad contrasts Trump and Clinton speeches, with caption “Our children are watching. What example will we set for them?”


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  • Republican National Cmte released a partial speaker list for its confab in Cleveland, which includes Christie, Gingrich and Ret. Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn (the latter was another running-mate prospect)
    • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Paul Ryan, members of Trump family also on tap to address the convention that starts Monday
    • Continental Resources founder Harold Hamm is listed
  • RNC Chairman Reince Priebus predicts that efforts to halt Trump’s nomination at next week’s convention will fail


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  • Clinton campaign is using popular app Pokemon Go to register Ohio voters, USA Today’s Cincinnati.com reported
    • Ohio campaign volunteers/staffers are setting up camp at locations where users are catching, training and fighting their Pokemon, using the app as an opportunity to register Millennial voters
    • The Clinton camp even plans at event around the game 
    • "Join us as we go to the Pokestop in Madison Park and put up a lure module, get free Pokemon, & battle each other while you register voters and learn more about Sec. Hillary Clinton!!! Kids welcome!''
  • Meanwhile, Trump told Washington Examiner he regrets not having room in his schedule for the app, which is based on the video game created in the 1990s by a Japanese insect collector
    • “I wish I had time,” he said about the game that came out July 6


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  • Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said she regrets her “ill-advised” comments regarding Trump, Bloomberg’s Greg Stohr reported
  • Comey told House Homeland Committee that he can’t address whether Clinton’s e-mail practices put American lives in danger
    • Comey also said former President Bill Clinton’s impromptu meeting with Attorney General Loretta Lynch influenced his decision to publicly detail his findings in the Clinton e-mail probe
  • Bernie Sanders has a book deal with Thomas Dunne Books, the Associated Press reported
    • Sanders will pen “Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In,” to be released November 15, a week after election day
  • Christie ally David Samson pleaded guilty to a federal corruption charge for pressuring United Airlines to fly a money-losing route convenient to his weekend home, Bloomberg’s David Voreacos and David Kocieniewski report


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  • IL-SEN: Democratic Rep. Tammy Duckworth’s campaign released TV ad saying that fighting for veterans is “her life’s work,”
    • Ad calls attention to Duckworth’s status as Army veteran who lost her legs as helicopter pilot in Iraq; spot also accuses Republican Sen. Mirk Kirk of having “flat-out lied repeatedly” about his military service
  • Kirk, rated by pundits as among most vulnerable GOP Senate incumbents this year, has distanced himself from Trump and will still oppose him even if Pence, a former colleague, joins Republican ticket, Kirk told Bloomberg’s Steven Dennis
    • NOTE: Kirk and Pence each first elected to the House in 2000
  • IN-SEN: Democrat Evan Bayh in first TV ad says he “can’t sit on the sidelines” after seeing how “the bitter partisanship and lack of progress in Washington has gotten even worse”
    • Bayh, former senator and governor, announced this week for seat of retiring GOP Sen. Dan Coats; GOP nominee is Rep. Todd Young
  • PA-SEN: Republican Sen. Pat Toomey’s campaign released TV ad stressing his opposition to Iran nuclear deal, drawing contrast with Democratic challenger Katie McGinty on “sanctuary cities”
    • Senate last week failed to advance Toomey proposal to eliminate federal financial assistance to jurisdictions with laws barring police from turning over undocumented immigrants to federal authorities; McGinty said Toomey’s plan would deprive Philadelphia of millions of dollars
    • McGinty released statement calling for doubling of funds for Justice Dept.’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program
  • GA-03: Georgia Chamber of Commerce endorsed dentist Drew Ferguson over state Sen. Mike Crane in July 26 Republican runoff, Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported
    • Winner heavy favorite to succeed retiring GOP Rep. Lynn Westmoreland
  • IN-04, IN-05: GOP Reps. Todd Rokita and Susan Brooks potential candidates to replace Pence as Republican nominee for governor, AP reported
    • Rokita, former Ind. sec/state, and Brooks, a ex-federal prosecutor, represent strongly Republican districts that take in some Indianapolis suburbs
  • MD-06: Former Qualcomm executive Mark Epstein has given $2.1m to super-PAC aiding his wife, GOP nominee Amie Hoeber, according to FEC filing
    • Hoeber, defense consultant, running against Democratic Rep. John Delaney in Democratic-leaning district that runs from far western Md. to Montgomery County suburbs near Washington
  • NY-22, NY-24: House Majority PAC reserved $455k in TV ad-time for Binghamton market, $177k in Utica, according to release from Democratic super-PAC
    • Binghamton and Utica are population centers in NY-22, where Republican Claudia Tenney faces Democrat Kim Wells for seat of retiring GOP Rep. Richard Hanna; wealthy businessman Martin Babinec seeking third-party ballot access
    • House Majority PAC also said it increased airtime spending to $925k from $372k in Syracuse, biggest city in NY-24, where Democrat Colleen Deacon challenging GOP Rep. John Katko
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