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Trump Names Religious Conservative Mike Pence As VP Pick Ahead Of GOP Convention


Trump named Indiana Governor Michael Pence as his running mate, delaying the official announcement until yesterday because of the attack earlier in France, which left more than 80 people dead. In introducing Pence, Trump blamed the Democratic leadership for instability both overseas and at home.


DONALD TRUMP: We need new leadership. We need new thinking. We need strength. We need, in our country, law and order.


TRUMP: And if I'm elected president, that will happened.


NEARY: NPR political correspondent Mara Liasson joins us now from Cleveland. Good morning, Mara.

MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Good morning, Lynn.

NEARY: So how is this tough talking going over with voters? How do you think it'll go over?

LIASSON: Well, in the past, it's worked very well for Republicans on crime, national security, terrorism. They were always the tough party, best to keep people safe. And Trump has been very quick to jump on all of these terrorist attacks. He blamed Hillary Clinton for the the growth of ISIS over - yesterday. He also said that he is the only one who can keep voters safe. So this is a top concern for Americans, especially after San Bernardino and Orlando.

But the Clinton campaign is banking on something different. It believes that voters want sure, steady leadership. It's actually got a new ad out that says Hillary Clinton, not Donald Trump, provides steady leadership in uncertain times. That, maybe, is not as powerful a message as Donald Trump's America first and we're going to bomb the expletive deleted out of ISIS. But that's what she's putting up as a contrast.

NEARY: Well, has Donald Trump offered any specifics on how he is going to defeat these threats?

LIASSON: He said he'd ask Congress to declare war on ISIS and on Islamic terrorism. That sounds very bold, but most experts say that would be merely symbolic. He has called for extreme vetting of immigrants. He's also called for a ban on people from, quote, "terrorist nations." He said he'd use waterboarding. He'd kill terrorists' families. He has said both that NATO is obsolete and we - the U.S. maybe should pull back a bit from NATO. But then on Friday, he agreed with FOX News host Bill O'Reilly, saying that NATO should commit ground troops and air forces to wipe ISIS off the face of the earth.

NEARY: Let's talk about Trump's running mate, Mike Pence. He's very far right conservative. He's also a religious conservative. Is that going to help with the evangelical vote?

LIASSON: It might. Mike Pence describes himself as a Christian, a conservative and a Republican in that order. So having him on the ticket should help Trump unify the party, bring some conservative Christian voters off the sidelines. This clearly was a pick to shore up Trump's base, to double down on the strategy of appealing to white, working-class voters in the Midwest, in the Rust Belt. This was not a pick to make the Trump ticket more appealing to minorities or suburban women.

It's interesting that Trump does not appear to expect Pence to play the traditional role of the attack dog. Pence actually swore off negative campaigning years ago in an article called "Confessions Of A Negative Campaigner." And in a "60 Minutes" interview where both Trump and Pence appear together, Trump said that Pence doesn't have to attack Hillary Clinton. He'll take care of that all by himself.

NEARY: Right. And very quickly, Mara, it seemed to take a long time to come to this decision, which the Clinton campaign is seizing on. Does that matter now?

LIASSON: I think that it doesn't matter to most voters. They don't really care how long it took Trump to come to the decision or whether he vacillated about it. But it did cost him. It was a missed opportunity. He missed having the media focus on Pence.

NEARY: All right. NPR political correspondent Mara Liasson in Cleveland, thanks so much.

LIASSON: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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