” Indiana Governor Mike Pence’s conservative track record on immigration
dates to his earliest days in the U.S. House and echoes the hard-line
stance of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who chose
Pence as his running mate.
During his dozen years in the House,
Pence lent his support to numerous bills aimed at overhauling the
immigration system, including a limit on the number of visas issued to
each country and efforts to allow individual states to stand up
border-patrol militias and to define English as the country’s official
language. And he supported building a border fence nearly a decade
before Trump made such a pledge a cornerstone of his campaign for the
In 2005, Pence joined efforts to pass a sweeping
immigration bill that was among the first to propose hundreds of miles
of fencing along the Mexican border. It also proposed a $3,000 fine for
immigrants living in the country illegally who agreed to leave and then
stayed. It created punishments for aiding an immigrant living in the
country illegally. The proposal was approved by the House, but failed in
A year later he supported the successful Secure
Fence Act of 2006, a narrower bill focused on border security that
ultimately led to the construction of nearly 700 miles of border
Pence said on Wednesday that he supports Trump’s “vision for
the country” when asked about Trump’s proposal to build a wall at the
“I think as President Ronald Reagan said, a
nation without borders is not a nation,” Pence said. “I think it’s
absolutely essential that we have border security and I have strongly
supported that throughout my career. We have to get the border under
control and I support Donald Trump. I think he’s got the right vision
for this country.”
Pence co-sponsored the Good Fences Make Good
Neighbors Act of 2006, a bill to let border states use federal grant
money to build “a physical barrier” near the Mexican and Canadian
borders to stop illegal immigration.
A year earlier he supported a proposal to let border states launch militias whose members could make arrests.
Pence has also signaled support for a changes to
immigration law that would redefine which children born in the United
States would automatically become citizens.
He supported a bill
in 2007 and again in 2009 that would have limited automatic citizenship
to children who have at least one parent who is a U.S. citizen, legal
permanent resident or is serving on active duty in the military.
2005 version of the bill that he supported called for automatic
citizenship for children whose parents were married, so long as one of
the parents was a citizen or legal resident. In cases of unmarried
parents, the child’s mother had to be a citizen or legal resident.
In business and politics, Donald Trump likes to go with his gut. His
selection of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as a running mate appears to be a
lesson in what happens when he doesn’t.
Trump introduced Pence as
his No. 2 on Saturday, passing over candidates with whom he has a more
personal connection in favor of an experienced politician with solid
conservative credentials. GOP leaders – many lukewarm at best about the
outsider at the top of their ticket – were nearly unanimous in praise.
getting to that moment of party unity was chaotic, with many of the
twists and turns playing out in public – and not in a way the
spotlight-seeking Trump prefers.
On its own, the muddled lead-up
to Saturday’s announcement is unlikely to impact Trump’s standing in his
general election fight with Democrat Hillary Clinton. But it provides
some of the clearest indications yet of how he might handle
high-pressure decisions as president, where few choices are easy and his
personal preferences are just one of many factors to consider.
“It does cause one to question how and what kind of
process he would use if he were actually president and had to make some
of the decisions,” said Lanhee Chen, the policy director to Republican
Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign. Still, he said it was
instructive that Trump “can be influenced against what his instincts
By midday last Wednesday, Trump and his aides were
signaling that he had decided to go with Pence. The campaign was making
plans for a splashy Friday announcement aimed at dominating the weekend
news cycle heading into the Republican convention.
Then came a hectic Thursday.
was in California for fundraisers, thousands of miles from his closest
advisers, including his oldest children. A voracious consumer of news,
Trump fumed as he watched television reports declaring he had settled on
Pence before he’d made a call to the governor. Two Republicans with
knowledge of the process said he felt boxed in by advisers and other
Republicans who preferred Pence over the two other finalists, New Jersey
Gov. Chris Christie and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
A call from Trump Thursday afternoon prompted
Pence to get on a plane to New York for an announcement the next day.
But shortly after the governor touched down on the East Coast, Trump
declared in a television interview that he had not made a “final, final”
decision. He further clouded the process when he abruptly postponed his
announcement event, citing the truck attack in Nice, France, that left
more than 80 people dead.
Around midnight, Trump and his top
advisers convened a conference call to discuss the frenzied day. That
fueled speculation that Trump might be changing his mind.
Trump knows exactly his level of certainty as he zeroed in on one of the
most important decisions of his campaign. Top advisers vigorously deny
he considered making a late change, with campaign chairman Paul Manafort
saying he “never waffled once he made his decision.” Notably, Manafort
did not say when that decision was made.
It was enough of a
muddle for Hillary Clinton’s campaign to leap into action and draw
attention to what they cast as Trump’s apparent wavering. Her campaign
released a web video Saturday contrasting clips of the Republican
touting his decisiveness with the timeline of the past few days. As the
video ends, the words on the screen read, “Donald Trump. Always
Divisive. Not so Decisive.”
Indeed, Trump’s own actions – saying
he’d not made a final decision even after Pence was summoned to New
York, then delaying the announcement – left the distinct impression of
So, too, did the actual announcement event on Saturday, at
which Trump meandered for nearly a half hour on a variety of topics –
including an update on the construction of his new hotel in Washington –
before finally calling Pence to the stage, only to then immediately
walk away. There were no “Trump-Pence” signs in the room, which appeared
dark and somewhat subdued on television.
“With picking a VP, it
just looks bad in the press,” Pete Wehner, a former adviser to President
George W. Bush and a sharp critic of Trump, said of the whole process.
“That’s a lot different when you have the powers of the presidency.”
Trump needs to look no further than the man he’s hoping to succeed for a
warning about how even a single instance of indecision can linger.
2013, President Barack Obama was on the brink of launching airstrikes
against Syria for using chemical weapons against civilians, something
he’d said crossed a “red line.” Then, Obama pulled back, saying he first
wanted to get approval from Congress. A vote was never held and the
strikes were never launched.
Obama has spent the past three years
defending that decision. It put Middle East allies on edge over his
commitment to the region’s security, and even some of his advisers have
said it was a mistake to stand down.
A long and bruising campaign
with Clinton stands between Trump and the possibility of that kind of
high-stakes situation. Time for voters to weigh both his instincts and