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In introducing Pence, Trump keeps the spotlight on himself

Donald Trump and Governor Mike Pence of Indiana with their families on stage after Pence was announced as Trump's running mate.
Donald Trump and Governor Mike Pence of Indiana with their families on stage after Pence was announced as Trump's running mate. Doug Mills/New York Times

NEW YORK — At a news conference to introduce his newly announced running mate, Donald Trump took the stage alone Saturday and then spent 28 minutes talking about all sorts of things with only brief mentions of Governor Mike Pence of Indiana.

In those moments, Trump described Pence as his ‘‘partner’’ and his ‘‘first choice,’’ despite media reports that the presumptive Republican nominee was uneasy with the selection.

Trump noted that Pence ‘‘looks very good’’ and has an ‘‘incredible family,’’ plus the two of them are ‘‘law and order candidates’’ who can defeat a ‘‘weak’’ Hillary Clinton.

Although Trump was unscripted for most of his remarks, he generally read from a script whenever referencing Pence and sharing statistics from Indiana. He repeatedly noted that he ‘‘won big’’ in Indiana’s Republican primary, even though Pence didn’t endorse him.


‘‘If you look at one of the big reasons that I chose Mike — and, one of the reasons is party unity, I have to be honest,’’ Trump said. ‘‘So many people have said: Party unity. Because I'm an outsider. I don’t want to be an outsider.’’

But most of Trump’s focus on Saturday morning was not on Pence. Trump reacted to the recent attack in France and the failed coup in Turkey, repeatedly attacked Clinton, his Democratic opponent, touted his primary victories, and called for religious leaders to be allowed to endorse presidential candidates. Sometimes he would transition back to the purpose of the news conference by saying things like: ‘‘Back to Mike Pence.’’

After 28 minutes, Trump called Pence onstage. In a six-second interaction, the men shook hands, and Trump patted Pence on his left shoulder. As Pence took his place behind a lectern, Trump used his right thumb to point at Pence, then applauded and left the stage.

In speaking for about 12 minutes, Pence was scripted and prepared. He described himself as ‘‘a pretty basic guy: a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican, in that order.’’ He praised God for giving him this opportunity and his family for supporting him.


He described Trump as a ‘‘good man’’ and touted several of his campaign promises. He said he was ‘‘deeply humbled’’ to be at Trump’s side, but also made clear that he received the call from Trump on Wednesday, even though the businessman has said he was undecided until late Thursday evening.

‘‘Donald Trump understands the frustrations and the hopes of the American people like no leader since Ronald Reagan. The American people are tired,’’ Pence said. ‘‘We’re tired of being told that this is as good as it gets. We’re tired of having politicians in both parties in Washington D.C., tell us: We'll get to those problems tomorrow.’’

Pence, 57, was a US representative for 12 years, and has been governor since 2013.

With Pence, Trump gets a partner who can win the votes of conservatives who make up the party’s base without overly exciting them or casting even a trace of a shadow on Trump.

Pence’s first lengthy comments about his selection came during an interview with Sean Hannity on Fox News on Friday.

Pence praised Trump as ‘‘the people’s choice’’ who ‘‘understands the anxiety and the aspiration of the American people like no leader since Reagan.’’

He also jumped on board with Trump’s campaign promises, including a few that he had previously opposed, such as a temporary suspension of Muslim immigration from countries with terrorist influences, and construction of a wall on the Mexican border.