WASHINGTON, July 15, 2016 – Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has tapped Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate, much to the delight of those who have in worked with Pence on ag issues.
Trump made the announcement on Twitter Friday morning, saying he was “pleased” to add Pence, a one-term governor and six-term congressman, to the GOP ticket. A news conference is scheduled for tomorrow morning. Pence has yet to address his new status publicly, but filed on Thursday to withdraw from the Indiana Governor’s race.
Don Villwock, who recently retired after more than a decade as president of the Indiana Farm Bureau, says he’s been impressed in his dealings with Pence, both as a governor and a congressman.
“He is truly agriculture's dream candidate,” Villwock said of Pence in an email to Agri-Pulse. Villwock described himself as “a big Mike Pence fan,” adding that Pence understood and supported many facets of agriculture from small farms to large agribusinesses. “He is a good listener and seeks input on issues from all commodity groups,” Villwock said.
Jane Ade Stevens, CEO of the Indiana Corn Growers Association, Indiana Corn Marketing Council and Indiana Soybean Alliance, also speaks well of Pence. In a statement, she said Pence “has been a good leader for Indiana agriculture during his time at the Statehouse.
“We are pleased Donald Trump has chosen a running mate with an understanding of Middle America,” she added.
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Vice President of Government Affairs Colin Woodall concurred, telling the Oklahoma Farm Report that during Pence’s time on the House Agriculture Committee, he and NCBA had “a good relationship.”
“He was very engaged and willing to help us on several things,” Woodall said. “We're encouraged it's somebody (with) their hand on the pulse of agriculture and … really probably knows what end of the cow does what."
Pence, who had previously endorsed Texas Sen. Ted Cruz before the Indiana primary, served in the House from 2001-2012 before a successful run for governor. House Agriculture Committee Chair Mike Conaway, R-Texas, called Pence a “rock-solid guy,” but he pointed out out that his opinions on agriculture may have evolved since he left Congress.
“He’s now been governor of an ag-centric state, and I think he’ll have a little different perspective on how important good policy is than he may have when he was just a member of Congress,” Conaway told reporters on Thursday.
Rep, Jackie Walorski, an Indiana Republican, added that the prospect of having someone from her home state on a presidential ticket is exciting.
“I think he represented the state of Indiana well here,” she told Agri-Pulse. “Anybody that represents Indiana knows the value of ag and how important it is to the country.”
In 2002, Pence voted in favor of the farm bill, but supported President George W. Bush’s veto effort of the 2008 bill. Bush said the bill spent too much, but his veto was ultimately overridden in a 317-109 vote in the House.
On the Renewable Fuel Standard, a policy that Trump supports, Pence voted in favor of the original 2005 legislation that created the program, but voted against the 2007 bill that created the current version of the RFS.
Pence also worked on immigration reform during his time in Washington and has been in favor of stricter border control measures. He was also among the group of governors seeking to bar Syrian refugees from their states.
Still, Pence criticized Trump in December, when the candidate’s proposed Muslim ban was drawing ire from all directions. Pence tweeted that calls to ban Muslims are “offensive and unconstitutional,” but Trump stuck to his guns on the proposed ban, expending it to geographic areas where terrorism is more prevalent.
The biggest gap between Trump and Pence may be on trade. Pence has been a strong supporter of trade agreements, voting in favor of the Korean Free Trade Agreement in 2011 and the Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement (DR CAFTA) in 2005.
In April of 2015, Pence sent a letter to Indiana’s congressional delegation urging them to support Trade Promotion Authority, which gives a president the authority to negotiate trade agreements and submit them to Congress for an amendment-free, up or down vote. TPA has since been approved, and the administration has wrapped up negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement with Pacific Rim countries. The administration is also in the process of negotiating the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the European Union.
In his letter, Pence urged support of the trade deals, saying they would greatly benefit Indiana.
“I can tell you first-hand that TPP and T-TIP provide an abundance of opportunities for Indiana businesses and will help to grow jobs in our state,” he told the lawmakers. Trump has spoken strongly against TPP and trade agreements more broadly, suggesting the U.S. should only enter into bilateral trade talks.
Pence was chosen over presumed contenders Newt Gingrich and Chris Christie.
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