Thomas: Pence is salt to Trump’s pepper

  • Tuesday, July 19, 2016 9:27am
  • Opinion

The announcement by Donald Trump of Indiana Governor Mike Pence as his running mate had not yet been made official last Thursday, but that didn’t stop the hard left from hauling out its familiar and overused rhetoric.

Ilya Sheyman, executive director of Political Action, released a statement which said, “If Trump picks extreme right-wing Governor Mike Pence as his running mate, he will be doubling down on his divisive and hate-filled approach to politics.” Funny how turning people against each other is, for the left, a one-way street. When the left wants to obliterate history, tradition, biblical teachings and even common sense it never sees itself as divisive. Conservatives are supposed to accept their agenda without complaint.

Pence has the government experience Trump lacks. He spent a decade in the House of Representatives and has been governor for the last four years. Yes, he was blindsided by the business community’s reaction to his signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which would have allowed businesses to deny service to the LGBT community on the basis of religious beliefs. And yes, it could be argued — and was — that he looked weak as he backtracked in face of heavy opposition and signed an amended bill passed by the Republican majority legislature allowing local governments to add protections for LGBT people.

Pence has the temperament critics say Trump lacks. He is an evangelical Christian, which should appeal to that base whose members have been troubled by Trump’s marital history, his rhetoric about women and his unfamiliarity with scripture.

Pence’s record as governor is a profile in conservatism: a 5 percent reduction in the state income tax; a reduction in the state corporation tax from 6.5 percent to 4.9 percent (that must have appealed to Trump who wants to cut corporate taxes to return jobs to the U.S.) and an increase in the state labor force which according to the governor’s office, by the end of 2014, had grown by more than 51,000 over that year. That was five times the national growth rate.

Here’s what he told me in a December 2014 interview in his Indianapolis office: “The Republican Party has become just the other party to Washington solutions. We have to get back to advancing state-based solutions and reforms. We must be relentlessly optimistic.” Channeling power from Washington back to the states is another announced Trump priority.

There is something else that will appeal to Trump and a lot of poorer Americans with children trapped in failing schools because Democrats won’t let them escape due to pressure and donations from the teachers unions. As governor, Pence set a goal of getting 100,000 more Indiana students in high-quality schools by 2020. The objective, he told me, is to “fix traditional schools, as well as expand the state’s educational voucher program, the largest in the country.”

Pence said he believed 2016 “will be the first foreign policy election since 1980.” He was right.

During our interview Pence refused to describe President Obama’s time in office as a failure, saying it has only been “disappointing.” Don’t look for him to be as judicious during the campaign because he has many reasons not to, including the administration’s poor record on fighting terrorism.

In what could turn out to be one of his best stump speech lines as he pursues the vice presidency, Pence said: “There’s a lot wrong with our national government, but we’ve got to stop confusing our national government with our nation.”

Modest, self-effacing and a man of deep faith in God and America, Pence will be salt to Trump’s pepper.

Readers may email Cal Thomas at

More in Opinion

Anselm Staack (Courtesy Photo)
Opinion: Dunleavy’s fiscally irresponsible and deceptive plan

Constitutions are about broad policy objectives and legal boundaries — not about the day-to-day.

Alaska Chief Medical Officer Anne Zink promotes getting immunized with the flu shot this winter. (Photo courtesy Alaska Department of Health and Social Services)
Immunize when you winterize

An annual flu shot plus the COVID-19 vaccine protects Alaskans and our health care system, too.

(Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Dunleavy’s first act as governor was unconstitutional

That’s according to a ruling by Senior U.S. District Judge John Sedwick.

New direction for the Tongass will help grow businesses, a sustainable economy

Now is the time to chart a new course for Southeast’s future.

This Aug. 3, 2021, photo shows Juneau International Airport.  The Federal Aviation Administration shared recommendations on Thursday for improving aviation safety in the state. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: How the FAA will improve the margin of aviation safety in Alaska

Alaska depends on aviation more than any other state…

Central Peninsula Hospital is seen in Soldotna on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Voices of the Peninsula: Perspective of an educator in a ‘high-risk’ group, part 2

During some of the darkest days of my time in ICU, it was obvious where we all live is a special place.

Lawmakers havereturned to the Alaska State Capitol for a fourth special session. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Revenues should be determined before more PFD spending

The governor believes the dividend drives the entire calculation. Sadly, he has it backwards

Ronnie Leach. (Photo provided)
Point of View: For Domestic Violence Awareness Month, #weareresilient

At the onset of COVID-19, we expanded our services in a way to ensure COVID-19 consciousness.

Rep. Don Young talks during a June 2021 interview with the Empire. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion:Where’s Don Young when America needs him?

Once upon a time, avoiding political controversy was completely out of character for Young.

Peter Zuyus
Voices of the Peninsula: Seniors appreciate vaccination efforts

To those who have worked to encourage vaccination we say: Be proud, you are, in fact, saving lives.

Jackson Blackwell (courtesy photo)
Voices of the Peninsula: Carbon dividends are the bipartisan climate solution

By levying a gradually increasing price on carbon, U.S. emissions will be slashed by 50% in 15 years.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy holds a press conference at the Capitol on Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (Juneau Empire file photo)
Dunleavy: Facts Matter

Political opportunists care more about spreading political untruths than accepting the facts.