Donald Trump and Mike Pence. Photo from donaldjtrump.com.
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (July 16, 2016)—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 deadline 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 dust-up 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.