Political world reacts to Pence VP choice

Story highlights

  • Those at the top of the Republican establishment seemed to support Trump's selection
  • Conservatives off the Hill showed their support for Pence as well

(CNN)Donald Trump's decision to join forces with Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate has been generally well received by members of the Republican Party, even among those who have yet to back the presumptive presidential nominee.

The selection process turned into a spectacle this week as the media shuffled to keep up with private meetings held with the possible picks, which also included former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
    However, on Thursday, those at the top of the Republican establishment seemed to support Trump's selection even before the ticket was confirmed.
    "I love the guy, I love him -- he's actually a buddy of mine," House Speaker Paul Ryan said when he was asked about Pence on the Michael Medved radio show. "Mike and I served in Congress 12 years together, so we were allies on just about everything."
    "It's a good move by Donald Trump. We look forward to enthusiastically supporting the ticket," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said.
    South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott said: "If he is the nominee, I think we will be proud of what he represents."
    "He certainly -- as were the other finalists -- is a great choice. He served up here, he's been a governor. So he has the executive skills but he also has the legislative. So I'm happy for him and I'm happy for the ticket," Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker said when asked about the selection on Thursday morning.
    Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger also praised Pence, calling him "competent" and a "good choice" despite having yet to throw his support behind Trump.
    Conservatives off the Hill showed their support for Pence as well.
    "Mike Pence is a home run choice and by picking him Donald Trump gets an A-plus for his first presidential decision," said Ken Blackwell, a board member of the National Rifle Association and a senior fellow for the Family Research Council. "He'll be an exceptional asset as Mr. Trump's running mate, he'll help unify the party as we take the battle to the Democrats in the fall up and down the ballot."
    Pence's popularity was noted specifically by various anti-abortion rights groups as well.
    "Mike Pence spent 12 years in Congress leading the charge on conservative issues, including defunding Planned Parenthood. I look forward to working with him as vice president," said Penny Nance, president and CEO of Concerned Women for America. "This is an excellent choice by Donald Trump. Mike Pence will be a unifying factor and conservatives will be very supportive."
    "Mr. Trump's selection of Gov. Mike Pence as his vice president is an affirmation of the pro-life commitments he has made and will rally the pro-life grassroots," said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List. "It was Mike Pence who led the effort to defund Planned Parenthood in Congress, and it was Gov. Pence who signed into law a historic bill protecting unborn children from lethal discrimination in the womb. Mike Pence is a pro-life trailblazer and Mr. Trump could not have made a better choice."
    Some top conservatives, though, have been wary of Pence, due to amendments he agreed to for a religious freedom bill he signed into law in 2015.
    The law was designed to give an additional buffer to businesses that wished to refuse service to members of the LGBT community on grounds of religious beliefs. However, the law was put under national scrutiny because it was considered discriminatory. After facing major political pressure, Pence asked the Indiana legislature to revise the language, which later passed.
    Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, previously said that Pence would have been a good choice -- had he not amended the law.