Why Mike Pence is a great choice for Trump’s VP

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump greets Indiana Gov. Mike Pence
Aaron P. Bernstein | Getty Images
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump greets Indiana Gov. Mike Pence

It appears that Donald Trump is finally taking the conventional approach, announcing Friday morning that he has chosen Indiana Governor Mike Pence as his running mate.

Pence isn't an outspoken fighter, like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who could have easily alienated more voters. He's also not a flamboyant, expressive voice, like Newt Gingrich, who could have wound up competing with Trump for attention.

With Pence, Trump is choosing a conservative and safe option who will get along and not throw a wrench into the campaign, like former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin did to Sen. John McCain in the 2008 presidential election.

Pence is well liked by the evangelical community — a group that flirted with Trump during the primary season, but never fully committed to him. As a congressman, Pence sponsored the first House bill to defund Planned Parenthood. It was one of his champion causes until it passed the House in 2011.

Even though Christie tried to defund Planned Parenthood five times in New Jersey, he was always viewed as a moderate and unreliable Republican who cozied up with President Obama when it was convenient. Christie would have been a harder sell to evangelicals and hard-line Republicans.

Pence also brings Midwestern values to the ticket and, as governor of a must-win state, he has a pre-built network of support — at least in theory. Trump and Christie would have been too reliant on the Northeast. Sure, Gingrich represented Georgia, but he is viewed as a Washington insider and his fiery appearances on Fox News only reinforce that image.

It also would have been much more difficult for Gingrich to attack the presumed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton as an insider when he was Speaker of the House during her husband's administration.

Trump needs a "yes" man — a VP who will take direction well and not question authority. Both Christie and Gingrich might have publicly supported Trump but their loyalty was never guaranteed.

Christie knows deep inside that he owes nothing to anyone. As governor of New Jersey, he talked down to teachers, scolded the press, belittled unions and used his bully pulpit as a sword. Christie proved he was a strong street fighter, and that would have been another risk for Trump if the polls started going down.

Plus, Gingrich knows the game of politics better than anyone. He used his political acumen to navigate to the top of the House. This could work to Trump's advantage, but likewise, it could flip against him just as easily. It doesn't help that Gingrich is also an insider in the year of the outsider.

But one of the biggest advantages that Pence brings to the ticket is his ability to adapt and brand himself into what Trump wants and needs.

Christie and Gingrich are already molded. You can't rebrand them with the public, like you can with Pence who is unknown to the American voter. That means, if done correctly, Trump can bend Pence into the candidate that best serves his needs.

It's a conventional and safe pick that just might bring over those undecided voters who are afraid of the unconventional Trump style.

Commentary by Mark Macias, head of Macias PR, a global public-relations firm, that has run media and branding campaigns for politicians, tech start-ups, financial firms, nonprofits and companies. He's also author of the book, "Beat the Press: Your Guide to Managing the Media." Follow him on Twitter @markmacias.

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