Running mate Pence will unify Republicans - Trump

  • 17/07/2016
Donald Trump and Mike Pence in New York (Reuters)
Donald Trump and Mike Pence in New York (Reuters)

US presidential hopeful Donald Trump is presenting his running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, as the man who can unify a fractured Republican party and help him bridge the gap created by Trump's outsider status.

In a wide-ranging speech on Saturday in which he touted his own "landslide" victory in the Republican primaries, Trump cast Pence as a perfect complement for the White House: a veteran of government, a man with a Midwestern sensibility and strong Republican credentials as a job creator and budget balancer.

"Indiana Governor Mike Pence was my first choice, I've admired the work he's done, especially in the state of Indiana," Trump said at an event in New York City.

Trump and Pence made their debut just two days before the beginning of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, where delegates from around the country will convene to officially nominate the pair as their party's ticket for the election.

Frequently straying from the notes on the lectern, Trump talked about himself and likely Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, often detouring from the purpose of the event: to introduce a little-known politician to the broader public.

"Back to Mike Pence," Trump said, interrupting himself during a lengthy explanation about why evangelical voters support his candidacy. He then read a series of statistics highlighting the job growth in Indiana.

Trump privately had second thoughts on who to pick in late-night conversations on Thursday, said a Republican source.

There were no "Trump Pence" signs distributed to the crowd or adorning the room. The two appeared together on stage only briefly - each standing out of view while the other one spoke.

On stage, they made scant eye contact and shook hands rather than raising arms together in the classic pose of running mates.

Neither offered anecdotal stories about their private time together.

Pence, in sharp contrast to Trump, delivered a prepared speech, discussing the love of his wife and country and his adoration for Ronald Reagan. He gave a full-throated call to fellow Republicans to back Trump.

It's unclear when the two will appear together again.

Pence heads back to Indiana for a solo event on Saturday night, and the Trump campaign hasn't released a schedule for the convention that would include a joint appearance.

The pair recorded an interview with CBS's 60 Minutes that is scheduled to air on Sunday night.

One of their big challenges will be to brook their policy differences in public.

Trump has made renegotiating trade deals a central theme of his campaign, while Pence has spoken in favour of trade agreements.

In an appearance on Friday night on Fox News, Pence offered a moderated take on trade, saying he agrees with Trump that deals should be renegotiated.

He also softened his vocal opposition to Trump's call to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the United States.