News (USA)

Trump’s VP short list is a Who’s-Who of homophobes and bigots

INDIANA GOV. MIKE PENCE:

Trump met with Pence and his family over the weekend. Apparently the Indiana governor left a good impression.

Trump tweeted on Monday that he was “very impressed” by the Indiana governor, who at one time had his own presidential ambitions. In addition to his time as governor, Pence served in the U.S. House of Representatives for 12 years.

Trump, who values loyalty, doesn’t know Pence as well as some of the other candidates under consideration.

But Pence, who was once a favorite of social conservatives, has also seen his standing slide in the wake of criticism over his handling of the state’s “religious freedom” law, which critics feared would allow discrimination against gays and lesbians. After repeatedly defending it, Pence eventually signed a new version of the bill with additional protections that left both sides dissatisfied.

ALABAMA SEN. JEFF SESSIONS:

The first senator to endorse Trump’s presidential bid, Sessions has become a top cheerleader and close Trump confidant, especially when it comes to shaping his policy positions. The two share similar approaches on a host of issues, including hard-line views on halting illegal immigration.

Sessions is not as well-known as some of Trump’s other choices, and it’s unclear whether his mild-mannered persona would deliver the kind of splashy punch Trump is hoping to achieve with the announcement of his running mate.

But Sessions, who previously served as U.S. attorney in Alabama, has proven a loyal resource and ally — roles that Trump especially favors.

IOWA SENATOR JONI ERNST:

Ernst shot to national fame in 2014 with a TV ad in which she boasted about castrating pigs and promising to cut the pork in Washington and “make ’em squeal.”

A former state lawmaker and military veteran with a rural upbringing, Ernst has been considered a rising star in the Republican Party since she became Iowa’s first woman in Congress in 2014.

In addition to adding military experience to the ticket, Ernst’s inclusion might also help Trump improve his appeal among women voters, with whom he currently lags.

But Ernst also has just two years of federal government experience and many top Iowa observers say they would be surprised to see her picked.

The pair met on Monday and had “a good conversation” about issues concerning Iowans, she said in a statement. But Ernst did not say whether the vice presidency was discussed.

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Associated Press writers Catherine Lucey in Des Moines, Iowa and Brian Slodysko in Indianapolis contributed to this report.

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