Republican presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump has reportedly selected Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate.
The Indianapolis Star reported the news Thursday that Pence is abandoning his re-election bid to join Trump’s ticket. The Trump campaign has not confirmed the news, saying that a decision has not yet been made. A formal announcement on Trump’s pick for vice president is expected Friday.
Pence has been Indiana’s governor since 2013 and was formerly a U.S. congressman and conservative radio talk show host.
In the Indiana gubernatorial campaign, Pence has been locked in a fierce re-election battle against Democratic challenger John Gregg. Pence has come under fire from members of both parties over his handling of the controversial “religious freedom” legislation allowing businesses to refuse service to same-sex couples.
U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL), meanwhile, addressed the prospect of Pence becoming Trump’s VP pick in an interview Wednesday with Bloomberg, saying “I hope he gets the nod.”
“I love Mike. He was the leader of the conservatives and I was the leader of the moderates. And we had a mutual admiration society,” Kirk said.
Bloomberg asked Kirk whether he’d reconsider supporting Trump if Pence is selected, to which Kirk said, “We’ll see.”
A Kirk staffer reportedly called the reporter back to clarify that Kirk is not supporting Trump, regardless of who the VP pick is.
Kirk has since issued a statement: “I like and respect Mike Pence but I will not be supporting Donald Trump. He does not have the temperament to serve as our commander in chief.”
Sean Savett, spokesman for the Democratic Party of Illinois, released a comment Thursday, saying “It looks like Republican Mark Kirk is getting his wish and extreme social conservative Mike Pence will be ignorant buffoon Donald Trump’s running mate.”
“Kirk even opened the door to supporting Trump again if Trump were to pick his friend Pence. While Kirk has gone to great lengths to try and disavow his Republican roots it’s worth noting his enthusiasm for Pence, a staunch conservative with a history of attacking women’s reproductive rights and who signed one of the country’s most discriminatory anti-LGBTQ bills into law,” Savett added.
“Likewise, when they served together in Congress, Kirk and Pence both opposed the rescue of the American auto industry, supported several trade deals that have shipped American jobs overseas, and supported the Ryan budget, which would raise taxes on the average middle-class family by $2,000 and turn Medicare into a voucher system in order to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy. Kirk’s enthusiasm for Pence is all anyone needs to know about him: no matter how much he tries to change his stripes in an election year, he’s a typical Republican, through and through.”
Other groups are also responding to reports of Pence becoming Trump’s running mate, including the Center for Education Reform, a charter school advocacy group based in Washington, D.C.
CER’s founder and CEO Jeanne Allen released the following statement:
The race for president just got more interesting for education reformers – and more meaningful – if indeed, as the Indianapolis Star has just reported, Governor Mike Pence has been selected as Donald Trump’s running mate.
Mike Pence is a true pioneer of educational opportunity, having advocated for parental choice and high standards for all schools, both as a think tank leader and radio host long before he ran for elected office.
In Congress, Governor Pence supported pushing more authority to state and local leaders, using their money to pursue the innovations and programs that they best feel meet the needs of their schools, their communities.
He has been an outspoken supporter of the critical right of parents to choose the school that is best for their children. Particularly in a time of great civil and international unrest, education holds the key to a competitive and productive nation.
In the least predictable political election cycle in recent times, we look forward to the possible addition of the governor’s historically unwavering conviction that education is the essential lever to expanding opportunity for all Americans.
UPDATE 1 (6:35 p.m.): Trump has canceled his scheduled Friday press conference announcing his vice presidential pick in light of Thursday’s Bastille Day terrorist attack in Nice, France.
UPDATE 2 (7/15/16 10:36 a.m.): Trump announced via Twitter Friday that he has picked Pence as his running mate. Trump is expected to hold a Saturday morning news conference to discuss his announcement.