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Trump chooses social conservative Pence

WASHINGTON (BP) — Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has selected a social conservative — Indiana Gov. Mike Pence — as his running mate.

Trump announced his vice presidential choice in a tweet Friday (July 15) and said he would hold a news conference regarding his decision July 16, two days before the Republican National Convention opens in Cleveland, Ohio.

The brash billionaire’s choice likely will be interpreted as an effort to help him gain votes from evangelicals and other conservatives — some who have proven reluctant to support him. Others, however, have promised not to vote for him for reasons that include his issue stances and rhetoric.

Pence, 57, compiled a solid pro-life and conservative record as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Indiana for 12 years. Upon leaving Congress, he won election as Indiana’s governor in 2012.

While in the House, Pence received a 100 percent rating from the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) during each session except one, when he gained a 90 percent score.

He has maintained the same kind of record as Indiana’s governor, signing several pro-life bills into law. In March, Pence signed a pro-life measure that included a provision that holds an abortion doctor liable for wrongful death if he knows the mother wants an abortion only because of the unborn child’s disability, gender, race or other physical trait. In June, a federal judge blocked the law from going into effect.

Pence’s record differs markedly with that of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, a social liberal who supports abortion rights and government funding of the procedure. Trump has no policy record, having never served in elective office.

Some pro-life organizations — including the NRLC, Susan B. Anthony List and Students for Life of America — applauded Trump’s selection of Pence.

“Mr. Trump’s selection of Gov. Mike Pence is an affirmation of the pro-life commitments he’s made and will rally the pro-life grassroots,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, in a written statement.

Some other pro-life and social conservative organizations did not comment.

Pence has made at least one significant misstep as Indiana’s governor in the eyes of many religious freedom advocates and social conservatives. He signed into law last year a revised version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that increased protections for pastors, churches and nonprofit religious organizations but not businesses regarding participation in such events as same-sex weddings.

Trump’s candidacy has divided Southern Baptists and other evangelicals, as well as Republicans. Some Southern Baptists and evangelicals have said their opposition will continue through the general election. Using the hashtag #NeverTrump on Twitter, objectors have made no-vote promises based on his inconsistent and even harsh policy positions on such issues as abortion, religious liberty and immigration; autocratic inclinations; insult-laden rhetoric; and a lifestyle marked by adultery.

Other Southern Baptists and evangelicals have supported Trump in the primaries or plan to vote for him in the general election as an alternative to Clinton.