Pence says Trump reminds him of Reagan in pitch to conservatives

Ronald Reagan
Universal History Archive | Getty Images

CLEVELAND— In one of his first speeches since being named Donald Trump's running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence tried to paint the billionaire as a man of the people.

Repeatedly calling Trump "this good man," Pence touted Trump's credentials to the American Conservative Union here. He called for party unity around Trump, comparing his ability to connect with "ordinary people" with former President Ronald Reagan's.

Pence, who was widely seen as bringing conservative appeal to the ticket, called on conservatives to rally around Trump amid lingering resistance to choosing him as the Republican presidential nominee. Trump is expected to accept the nomination on Thursday.

"His heart is with everyday Americans and he will fight every day to strengthen this nation and bring America back," Pence said.

"I say to my fellow conservatives today: it's time for us to come together. Time for us to come together around this good man."

Official rebellion against Trump was effectively crushed Monday, when anti-Trump delegates failed to change the rules to unbind delegates. Some delegates threw down their credentials or walked off the Quicken Loans Arena floor in protest, showing that a rift lingers within the party.

Pence claimed he has spent time with Trump behind the scenes, seeing a man who connects well with ordinary Americans despite his fame.

"I have a sense of this man. I have a sense of his heart. I have a sense of his hands-on style and leadership. And for all the world he reminds me of Ronald Reagan," Pence said.

Aside from appealing to admiration for Reagan, Pence also argued that Republicans must unite to stop Hillary Clinton from winning the White House. He contended Republicans must ensure that the president supports the military and place a justice on the Supreme Court who will uphold conservative ideals.

Pence gained mainstream attention in recent years for his staunch conservative views on issues like gay marriage and abortion. He is expected to accept the GOP's vice presidential nomination in a speech Wednesday.