Pence flew to New York Thursday afternoon but Trump was still discussing the decision as late as midnight
Trump announced Pence as his VP choice Friday on Twitter
The calls from Donald Trump to his son-in-law Jared Kushner and other close advisers kept coming until midnight. The campaign had flown Indiana Gov. Mike Pence to New York to be his vice presidential choice, but Trump was still questioning his decision.
Trump, a man most comfortable going with his gut, had made his most important decision as a candidate based on political pragmatism, according to sources familiar with the events. He was swayed by his children and campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who had persuaded him that Pence would do more to strengthen Trump’s campaign and unify the party than New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie – a man whose style and personality more closely matches the presumptive Republican nominee.
The selection of Pence had gained momentum during a week of serendipity for the governor. From the moment that Pence had hosted Trump at his Indianapolis home for breakfast Wednesday, he told his team he had a strong premonition that he was going to be the vice presidential pick.
Trump had dined with Pence the night before, and then because of a popped tire on his plane, was captive in Indianapolis. That gave Pence, and more importantly Trump’s children and his advisers, an extra day to convince him.
As late as Tuesday, advisers say, Trump had been leaning toward Christie, his longtime friend and now trusted adviser. Weeks earlier, Trump’s children had been leaning toward Newt Gingrich, several sources said, dazzled by the former House speaker’s charm and encyclopedic knowledge of politics.
Trump has long been skittish about confrontation with those who are loyal to him, and Christie had stood with him longer than most. So Trump kept calling him Thursday, not quite saying he had chosen Pence, but trying to convince Christie to take the job of attorney general.
Everyone around Trump knew Pence was the logical – if boring – choice, the kind of guy everyone describes as “nice” but one who would be the first to blush if Trump told an off-color joke. He and Trump scarcely knew each other, and his understated demeanor could not be more different than Trump’s brash style.
Trump’s children and Manafort decided Pence was the safe choice; someone who could be trusted, a calm, reliable counter force to Trump’s unpredictable and erratic tangents.
So as Trump was off in California on a fundraising trip Thursday, he and Pence spoke several times. But no formal offer was made. Trump just could not quite bring himself to do it.
As CNN and other news outlets reported that all signs pointed to Pence, the candidate’s seeming indecision began playing out in full public view in a humiliating fashion for Pence.