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Mike Pence

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The ignored importance of Trump’s VP pick.

As the curtain rises in Cleveland tonight, America will finally be properly introduced to Indiana governor Mike Pence, who, until now, is likely a mystery to non-Hoosiers who don’t follow politics closely.

Yet for all of his previous semi-obscurity, Governor Pence’s nomination for vice president may be one of surprising historical importance. While he has a hard time attracting attention when standing next to the media black hole that is Donald Trump, it’s still shocking how little coverage, relatively speaking, Governor Pence has gotten. Because if Donald Trump wins the White House (and his current numbers are better than Romney’s were against Obama at this time in the campaign), Governor Pence could wind up one of the most powerful and influential vice presidents in the history of the office. Not bad for someone who got the job, in many ways, because much of the GOP’s top political talent took themselves out of the running.

A brief look back to 1980 shows just how dramatic an effect a single vice-presidential nomination can have on the subsequent course of American political history. In that year, Ronald Reagan attempted until the very last minute to get former president Gerald Ford as his running mate. When those negotiations broke down, Reagan finally, and somewhat reluctantly, selected George H. W. Bush, a member in good standing of the GOP’s more liberal Eastern-establishment wing, which had fought Reagan tooth and nail throughout the primary season. The rest, as they say, is history.

Had Reagan and Ford been able to close their deal, there would have been no George H. W. Bush to largely redirect Reagan’s conservative legacy and no George W. Bush to serve two terms of his own, winning office by capturing the vote of both his father’s more business-oriented “country club” Republicans and the party’s rising Evangelical wing. Of course, George W. Bush left office deeply unpopular, and the frustrations that limited-government conservatives had with his tenure were one of the main forces that gave rise to the Tea Party. It goes without saying that, in this counter-factual world that we have devised, we also would have had no Jeb Bush to soak up establishment dollars and attention in the 2016 cycle. It is literally impossible to imagine the GOP of the last 36 years had Reagan not picked Bush—the selection, for good or ill, was really that important. Vice presidents’ lives matter.


Source: Jeremy Carl, nationalreview.com