Mary­land GOP del­e­gates call Trump VP pick a ‘good move’

Cecil Whig - - OPINION - By AMANDA EN­GEL, MICHELLE CHAVEZ, MAG­GIE GOT­TLIEB & TERESA LO

Cap­i­tal News Ser­vice

— Mary­land GOP con­ven­tion del­e­gates are call­ing Don­ald Trump’s se­lec­tion of In­di­ana Gov. Mike Pence as his run­ning mate a “good move” that fills in some pol­icy and ex­pe­ri­ence holes in the ticket.

Trump tweeted Pence’s se­lec­tion on Fri­day, af­ter post­pon­ing an of­fi­cial an­nounce­ment in the wake of the ter­ror­ist at­tack in Nice, France.

“He’s a good pick,” said Bar­rie Cilib­erti, a del­e­gate from Ur­bana. “He’s been a good gov­er­nor, fis­cally and so­cially con­ser­va­tive. He takes care of a few boxes with that se­lec­tion. It’s a good move.”

Pence, 57, is known as a so­cial con­ser­va­tive and de­vout Chris­tian. He took of­fice as gov­er­nor in 2012, and Trump’s an­nounce­ment came just an hour be­fore the dead-

COL­LEGE PARK

line for Pence to with­draw his can­di­dacy for re-elec­tion in In­di­ana.

Pence ini­tially en­deared him­self to the right by push­ing a “re­li­gious free­dom” law, al­though he came un­der fire from hu­man rights groups, the LGBT com­mu­nity and busi­nesses who said the mea­sure opened the door to wide­spread dis­crim­i­na­tion. A “fix” he later signed an­gered some evan­gel­i­cals as a flip-flop.

Pence also came un­der fire from the me­dia for his plans to cre­ate a gov­ern­ment funded “news” ser­vice to sup­ply his own spin on state ac­tion to in­de­pen­dent news out­lets.

But Mary­land’s Repub­li­can con­ven­tion del­e­gates see Pence as pro­vid­ing some needed bal­ance to the brash, un­con­ven­tional Trump.

“Mike Pence is a solid Repub­li­can,” said Tom Kennedy, an al­ter­nate del­e­gate from Bal­ti­more. “More than that, and more rel­e­vant for me as a mem­ber of the Mary­land del­e­ga­tion, he has been a solid, re­li­able con­ser­va­tive for his en­tire adult life.”

Kennedy, who orig­i­nally sup­ported Ted Cruz, said the mem­ory of Trump’s con­sort­ing with New York Democrats is still too fresh.

“Many of my fel­low Cruz cam­paign­ers are still some­what wary of him. So Trump needed to bur­nish his con­ser­va­tive cre­den­tials,” he said.

Cor­ro­gan Vaughn, also of Bal­ti­more, praised all of Trump’s short list can­di­dates, which in­cluded New Jer­sey Gov. Chris Christie, for­mer House Speaker Newt Gin­grich, U.S. Sen. Jeff Ses­sions of Alabama and re­tired Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn.

“Any of them would do a phe­nom­e­nal job,” Vaughn said, adding that Trump was look­ing for some­one who would be able to take over at any point and con­tinue to “make Amer­ica great again.”

Mary­land Trump cam­paign founder Sue Ghosh Strick­lett said she pre­vi­ously worked with Pence. She said the run­ning mate knows how to bring peo­ple to­gether.

“Those (poll) num­bers very likely to go up,” Ghosh Strick­lett said, now that Trump has picked Pence.

Pence’s views may dif­fer from Trump’s on cer­tain is­sues, she said, but the gov­er­nor sup­ports the pre­sump­tive nom­i­nee on the core is­sues.

“Hu­man be­ings have dif­fer­ences,” Ghosh Strick­lett said. “You’re never go­ing to agree 100 per­cent.”

Del­e­gate John Strick­lett, from the 8th con­gres­sional dis­trict, said Pence does not cur­rently dis­agree with Trump.

“Things have changed, and these are a lot of past opin­ions he’s had,” Strick­lett said. “It shows that the party is mov­ing to­wards Trump, to­wards Trump’s po­si­tions.”

Michael J. Collins, a Repub­li­can del­e­gate from Reis­ter­stown, said he had heard of Pence, but was not fa­mil­iar with the gov­er­nor’s poli­cies.

But, Collins said, “(Trump) is a smart man. He didn’t get to be a bil­lion­aire by be­ing stupid, by any means. If he thinks Pence is the best guy, then I need to trust that he’s made the right de­ci­sion.”

Trump has be­come known for his bold state­ments and ex­treme po­si­tions — such as build­ing a wall along the U.S. south­ern border to con­trol im­mi­gra­tion — and for be­lit­tling op­po­nents. He also has been crit­i­cized by Democrats and Repub­li­cans for dis­parag­ing women, most pub­licly in a dustup with Fox News an­chor Megyn Kelly dur­ing one of the pres­i­den­tial de­bates.

That his­tory has rat­tled at least one Mary­land del­e­gate from the other party, who sees Pence as re­in­forc­ing the iso­la­tion­ist and bom­bas­tic side of Trump.

Pence is “one of the scari­est choices,” said Court­ney Wat­son, a Hil­lary Clin­ton del­e­gate to the Demo­cratic con­ven­tion from El­li­cott City. She said she’s es­pe­cially wor­ried about his be­liefs on im­mi­gra­tion, LGBT rights and women’s re­pro­duc­tive rights.

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