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Trump Poised To Nominate Indiana Gov. Mike Pence At Republican National Convention


While Turkey struggles, a political drama is playing out here in the States. The Republican National Convention is about to begin in Cleveland, Ohio - a convention poised to nominate Donald Trump for president. A last ditch effort to block Trump among the delegates fizzled this past week. And later this morning the candidate will appear with his choice of a running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence. A former member of Congress and a hero to many in the conservative movement, Pence has been a key figure in opposing abortion and same-sex marriage.

Joining us to talk about the developments of the week is NPR senior editor and correspondent Ron Elving. Welcome, Ron.

RON ELVING, BYLINE: Good to be with you, Linda.

WERTHEIMER: So we've got a ticket, at long last. What is Governor Pence's contribution? What does he bring to the table?

ELVING: He has three things that Donald Trump lacks and needs. He has the trust of most social conservatives. He has a long history of working with other party leaders in Washington. And he has good relationships with the kind of Republican donors who have been shying away from Donald Trump up to now.

WERTHEIMER: Which sounds sensible, conventional and not at all like Donald Trump.

ELVING: That is correct. This is a safe, sound and solid pick. And, you know, that's pretty much evidence that this was a decision made by the head and not by the heart - and maybe not entirely by Donald Trump's head alone because he likes to say he's most comfortable with decisions he makes on gut feelings.

And he's been very interested in a couple of other prospects that he feels a lot of affinity with. Newt Gingrich, as you know, Chris Christie have been very much in the running. Those are both much better known names. And they might not add much to Trump's political assets, but they would certainly be dynamic personalities on stage with him.

WERTHEIMER: So the Pence choice was widely reported on Thursday and then sort of denied on Thursday night and then announced on Friday, after all, by tweet. What's going on with that?

ELVING: Well, you know, it's been reported by CNN and NBC that Trump himself was undecided on this issue as late as Thursday night. Campaign chairman Paul Manafort has refused to say when the choice was really made, only to say that it was made by Donald Trump before he sent out that tweet on Friday morning.

WERTHEIMER: So how is it playing with the early arrivals to the convention?

ELVING: It seems to have been met with a lot of satisfaction, believe it or not, on both sides of the great divide in American politics. You've got hard-core conservatives and establishment Republicans both who see this as a solid choice - someone who's less flamboyant and more predictable than their candidate for president and much closer to Republican orthodoxy on trade, on entitlements and same-sex marriage than Donald Trump is.

And by that same token, you find a lot of Democrats and liberal activists who see him as the original antagonist of Planned Parenthood - put in a bill to defund Planned Parenthood back in 2007. And the man who passed and signed the religious liberty bill in Indiana that was seen as anti-gay and had lots of big businesses threatening to leave the state last year, at least before the law was modified. So those people see Pence as a guy they can run against and mobilize their base against.

WERTHEIMER: What do we expect this news conference to be like? Is it - is this what Trump had in mind, what he planned?

ELVING: It may be a little less elaborate, but we still expect there will be ruffles and flourishes and the sort of typical drama of a Trump announcement. We don't expect there to be a lot of questions, even though they're calling it a news conference - maybe not any questions at all at this first event together because these two men disagree on an awful lot of issues. For example, barring Muslims from terror-ridden areas from the United States - Mike Pence immediately said that would be unconstitutional. So these two men disagree on maybe enough things that they don't really want to have a wide-open news conference that could lead in directions that might be awkward, maybe even something that would be embarrassing before they make the union official on the convention floor next week.

WERTHEIMER: NPR's Ron Elving reporting from Cleveland. Thanks, Ron.

ELVING: Thank you, Linda. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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