Multiple media outlets reported on Thursday that Indiana Gov. Mike Pence would be Donald Trump’s pick for his running mate in the fall. Even as the Trump campaign denied that a decision had been made, the potential selection made sense as a safe, conventional pick: A solid conservative with an impressive legislative resume.*
There’s one big way that it doesn’t make sense, though. Specifically—being a safe, conventional conservative—Pence absolutely lambasted Trump’s call to ban all Muslim immigrants from entering the country, one of his key policy proposals.
Last year, Pence instructed his own state’s Family and Social Services Administration to suspend settlement of Syrian refugees in Indiana. But shortly after sending out the above anti-Trump tweet, he reiterated that Trump’s total Muslim ban was a step too far, even for him.
“I do strongly disagree with the call that would ban Muslims from this country,” he said at the time. “My concern with the Syrian refugee program has to do with the country of origin. It has to do with the fact that Syria is a war-torn country whose own regime has been exporting terrorism for years.”
“For me it’s about identifying a country of origin where we have security concerns. This is about public safety. It’s not about identifying individuals on the basis of nationality.”
In recent weeks Trump has seemed to come around closer to Pence’s own stance, saying the ban would only apply to Muslims from “terror states,” while his campaign has denied that he has softened the stance at all.
Pence recently justified his support for a man who wanted to implement such an “offensive and unconstitutional” religious test for immigrants by basically saying ‘whatevs, I disagree with a lot of people about a lot of stuff, go Trump.’
“I’ve taken issue with candidates from time to time,” Pence told an ABC reporter on Tuesday when asked about his disagreement with the ban. “But I’m supporting Donald Trump to be president of the United States of America.”
When pressed, Pence was similarly weasely.
“Look, I served in Congress for 12 years, I’ve been governor for three and a half years. I haven’t agreed with every one of my Republican colleagues or Democratic colleagues on every issue. But I’m supporting Donald Trump because we need change in this country,” he said. “I believe he represents the kind of strong leadership at home and abroad that will, to borrow a phrase, make America great again.”
Your evasion skills are strong, Mike Pence. You will do just fine in the apparent new job.
Correction, July 14, 2016 2:00 p.m.: This post originally misstated that Pence had not endorsed a Trump opponent in Indiana. He endorsed Ted Cruz.