By Rachel Hoffmeyer
INDIANAPOLIS — Gov. Mike Pence will vote for Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas in the Indiana primary.
“This is about choosing between three good men, all of whom I like and respect,” said Pence, “and identifying that individual who I think best articulates and best advances the principles that have made our prosperity possible and for me that’s Ted Cruz.”
Pence said he sees Cruz as a “principled conservative,” describing his work in Washington to slow federal spending and his knowledge of the Constitution.
The endorsement came days before Indiana’s primary on Tuesday. The election could be pivotal for front runner Donald Trump, who still has not secured enough delegates to win on the first ballot at the Republican National Convention. If Cruz wins Indiana’s winner-take-all primary, he’ll be a significant step closer to preventing Trump from gaining the 1,237 delegates needed for the nomination.
Pence, however, is a battered figure in Indiana politics after the debate surrounding the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the state’s new abortion law.
“Mike Pence’s endorsement of Ted Cruz is no surprise as both politicians have built their careers obsessing over a social agenda rather than focusing on economic issues most important to Hoosiers,” Chairman of the Indiana Democratic Party John Zody said in a statement.
But Pence still appeals to evangelicals, a large block of voters in Indiana.
All three candidates for the Republican nomination visited with Pence during the past week and half, seemingly to court his endorsement. Ohio Gov. John Kasich, however, suspended his campaign in Indiana in an effort to help stop Trump from securing the nomination and clear a path for Cruz to win the state. The governor still praised Donald Trump and his ability to draw attention to issues, despite declining to endorse him.
“I particularly want to commend Donald Trump,” said Pence, “who I think has given voice to the frustration of millions of working Americans with a lack of progress in Washington D.C. And I’m also particularly grateful that Donald Trump has taken a strong stand for Hoosier jobs.”
Pence said he will not work against any Republican candidate. He wants to a see a Republican back in the White House to work with the Republican Congress.
“To lead is to choose. And here at this time of choosing, when people all across America are looking to Indiana to make a decision, I just wanted to make my decision known,” said Pence. “But let me make this very, very clear… whoever wins the Republican nomination for president of the United States, I’m going to work my heart out to get elected.”
Pence encouraged Hoosiers to make their own choices, but he also echoed the sentiment of many Republicans this election season.
“I’m for anybody but Hillary and Bernie Sanders.”
Rachel Hoffmeyer is the executive editor of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.