The Pence selection reveals another internal party tension

Time magazine reports in great detail on all the last-minute maneuvering that went on before the Twitter announcement by Donald Trump of his selection of Mike Pence and the latter’s Tweet of acceptance, and the process was even more chaotic than previously suggested.

The basic problem was that many prominent Republicans, especially those who have serious ambitions of later running for high office, were leery of accepting the position, fearing that they would be in the position of having to constantly defend Trump’s erratic political positions and lose any credibility at all and also that they might lose in a landslide. The ones who were eager to accept were Newt Gingrich (who has no future in politics) and two sitting governors (Pence and Chris Christie) who are both unpopular at home and needed to find another job soon.

All of them campaigned hard for the job and it seemed that each thought they had a shot right up to the very end.

Chris Christie’s allies were so sure the New Jersey governor was the pick that his former New Hampshire state director quit a lucrative consulting job to join the Trump campaign.

Newt Gingrich thought things were drifting his way too, thanks to a lobbying push led by powerful conservative stalwarts, including billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who suggested he would lavish more cash on Trump’s campaign if the former House Speaker was on the ticket.

Meanwhile, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence was left in suspense in his New York hotel room Thursday night, days after allies became convinced that Trump had zeroed in on the Hoosier, and hours after the choice began leaking widely.

It seems like Trump preferred the more pugnacious Christie but his close advisors wanted Pence in order to shore up Trump’s shaky social conservative credentials and build bridges with the party establishment and big money donors. Furthermore, Christie had as US Attorney prosecuted and had jailed for corruption Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner’s father, which did not endear him to the son-in-law. It appears that Christie was furious at not being picked. It must be particularly galling since he publicly and humiliatingly groveled before Trump and was widely mocked for it.

The Republican party has been described as being in tension between its social conservative wing that cares most about GRAGGS issues (guns, race, abortion, god, gays, and sex) and its economic conservative wing, people who care more about policies like reducing taxes and getting rid of government regulations on businesses all of which would help in the growth in wealth of the rich.

But the criticism by some within the Republican ranks of the choice of Pence, who has solid social conservative credentials, reveals that there is another split within the economic conservative wing, between economic neoliberals who favor polices like looser immigration rules (because that lowers the cost of labor), trade deals like NAFTA and TPP (because they enable companies to shift their production and jobs abroad more easily), and Wall Street bailouts, and those who are economic populists who oppose all those things because they hurt the working class. Pence has been solidly in the neoliberal camp while Trump has been emphasizing the opposite, such as building walls, restricting immigration, cancelling trade deals, and opposing bailouts.

It will be interesting to see how the Trump-Pence dynamic evolves as they try to speak with one voice on those things.


  1. Crimson Clupeidae says

    I predict Pence adopts mostly Trumpian economic policies, as they don’t really care that much anyway, and he’s mostly there to provide cover for the evangelical vote.

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