I am pleased to announce that I have chosen Governor Mike Pence as my Vice Presidential running mate. News conference tomorrow at 11:00 A.M.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 15, 2016
Thanks to the near-universal reporting that the New York business tycoon would select the right-wing governor, the campaign of Trump’s opponent was ready and waiting with a tweet of their own, from Hillary Clinton:
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) July 15, 2016
Trump had planned to make the announcement in person in New York Friday morning, and Pence had already traveled there, when news broke of the latest terror attack. More than 80 people were killed when a truck barreled through a crowd of Bastille Day revelers in Nice, France. When the scope of the tragedy became clear, Trump postponed the news conference, and in Friday morning’s tweet, rescheduled it for Saturday.
In light of the horrible attack in Nice, France, I have postponed tomorrow's news conference concerning my Vice Presidential announcement.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 14, 2016
Pence, a social conservative former Congressman, signed Indiana’s controversial “religious freedom” law that gave businesses and individuals the right to discriminate against LGBT people. After national outcry, state legislators passed a “fix” to the law’s language that didn’t actually solve any of the problems.
Pence, who disastrously tried to defend the bill on national television, was mocked nationwide for his unwillingness to admit the law discriminated against LGBT people. He signed the bill surrounded by some of the state’s most vociferous anti-LGBT activists and religious leaders.
Pence’s selection would help bolster Trump’s lackluster standing with social conservatives who doubt the candidate’s sincerity on issues like abortion and LGBT rights. Even after backlash to the law cost the state millions of dollars in lost revenue, he refused to consider adding nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people into state law, saying it would harm Christian’s religious freedom to discriminate against people they don’t like.
Former Indiana Speaker of the House John Gregg was set to face Pence in this year’s gubernatorial election. While Gregg only recently became a supporter of LGBT rights, he’s been hitting Pence hard on his bigoted stances.
Pence narrowly beat Gregg in the last race for governor and the battle for the state’s top seat has been incredibly close as Gregg has continued to paint the Governor as a homophobic and sexist bigot.
Pence had until today to withdraw from the gubernatorial race according to Indiana law, and has now done so, as seen in the document below.
The state party will pick a replacement candidate since the primary election has already been held.
Bil Browning contributed to this report.