By Shelby Mullis
WESTFIELD, Ind. — Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump left Hoosiers and the rest of the country wondering who will be his running mate after he didn’t announce a decision at his campaign rally in Indiana Tuesday night.
Pence kicks off the rally
The governor took the stage to welcome Trump to the Hoosier heartland amid speculation and reports that he’s one of the top three choices for the ticket.
“Here in Indiana we know that strong Republican leadership works,” Pence said. “After seven and a half years of the failed policies of Barack Obama that weakened America’s place in the world and stifled our nation’s economy, we are ready for a change in this state. We’re ready to put a fighter, a builder and a patriot in the Oval Office of the United States of America.”
But despite the attention surrounding the possibility of Pence becoming the vice presidential candidate, Trump spent little time focusing on the governor.
Before greeting the audience, Trump jokingly asked, “How’s your governor doing by the way? Good?”
But then quickly moved on.
Making it through the night without any interruptions from protestors, Trump took a more traditional and subtle approach to his speech than his usual style.
He addressed the common issues of the economy, immigration and jobs and made jabs toward presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, but didn’t end the night without making a special point to recognize the nation’s law enforcement following the recent tragedies in Louisiana, Minnesota and Texas.
“Our whole nation grieves and mourns for the loss of five heroes in Dallas law enforcement,” Trump said. “There were great, great people. We pray for their families. We pray for their loved ones. We pray for all the wounded survivors. We pray for our country—so important. The police are not just part of our society, our police are the best of our society. Remember that.”
It wasn’t until the near end of Trump’s speech that he mentioned Pence’s name again — the name many Hoosiers were listening for Tuesday.
“I often joke; you’ll be calling up Mike Pence. I don’t know whether or not he’s going to be your governor or your vice president—who the hell knows? But you’re going to call up this man and you’re going to say, ‘Governor or vice president, sir, please, please speak to Mr. Trump. We’re winning too much. We the people of Indiana cannot stand all of these victories.’”
Michael Linder, of Westfield, didn’t expect Trump to make his vice president announcement in Westfield, nor does he foresee Trump choosing Pence for the position.
“I don’t think he’s going to choose Pence as his vice president,” Linder said. “And that’s fine. He’s going to choose the best person to convey his message to the American people. Whether it’s Pence or not, he’s going to do a great job with whoever he chooses.”
Indiana Democrats speak out
Hours before the Westfield rally, Indiana Democrats gathered outside the Columbia Club on Monument Circle where Trump and Pence partnered together for a private fundraiser Tuesday afternoon.
Chanting, “Fire Mike Pence” and “This is what democracy looks like,” Joy Conners, of Indianapolis, and nearly 100 other Hoosiers protested the fundraiser.
“[Pence] is divisive. He’s non-inclusive. He represents hate and everything that’s bad about humanity, not what’s good about humanity,” Conners said. “I saw things on Facebook about us just letting him go. I think that’s not responsible for us as Hoosiers.”
It’s for this reason that Conners said Pence does not belong in the White House.
Senator Jean Breaux, D-Indianapolis, former Indiana state Rep. John Aguilera and Indianapolis community leader J.D. Ford joined the protestors on Monument Circle to address Pence and Trump’s previous records.
“We are here today because our governor, Mike Pence, who has time and time again with his out-of-touch agenda divided our state, is not just hosting a fundraiser with Donald Trump this evening.” Breaux said. “No, he’s angling to be Trump’s second-in-command. Let’s let that sink in.”
If Trump does decide to choose Pence for the vice president seat, he likely has until Friday to make his decision. July 15 is the final day Pence can drop out of the Indiana race for governor and still give the Republican party a chance to name a replacement.
Shelby Mullis is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.