Mike Pence's whirlwind July started with a game of golf with Donald Trump over the Independence Day weekend
Just a few weeks later, Trump would name Pence his running mate
For Mike Pence, Donald Trump’s vice presidential pick, it all started with a golf game.
Over the July 4 holiday weekend, Trump invited the Indiana governor to his New Jersey golf club, starting a rush of speculation that Pence could be high up on the list to share the ticket with the then-presumptive GOP nominee.
“He’s a very good golfer,” Pence said of the New York businessman. “He beat me like a drum.”
It wasn’t the first time the two had met, but it came at a time when potential VP picks were repeatedly being floated.
As Pence attended events and visited county fairs – patting horses and meeting first-place-winning steers in his campaign for re-election as governor – the question of who Trump would pick continued to grow.
With the heightened attention came questions about the issues where Pence had previously disagreed with Trump – from his endorsement of rival Sen. Ted Cruz before the Indiana primary, to his description of Trump’s initial policy on banning all Muslims as “offensive and unconstitutional.”
“I haven’t agreed with every one of my Republican colleagues or Democratic colleagues on every issue. But I’m supporting Donald Trump because we need change in this country,” Pence said after he was repeatedly pushed on his comments on the Muslim ban.
Just three days before Trump made his pick official, he visited Indiana for a fundraiser and a rally with Pence.
In Westfield, Indiana, Pence took the stage, making a short introduction that struck down the notion that he couldn’t successfully play the attack dog – taking aim at Democratic presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama.
“I’ll tell you from my heart, looking at their party further and further to the left, to paraphrase the director of the FBI: I think it would be extremely careless to elect Hillary Clinton,” Pence said to roars from the crowd.
As Trump joined him on stage, he said, “wow” and motioned to Pence. Closing his speech, Trump said: “I don’t know whether he’s gonna be your governor, or your vice president, who the hell knows.”
But the next morning, an unexpected breakfast meeting at the governor’s mansion – with Trump’s children and a top adviser flying in – raised expectations to a heightened fervor.
News crews camped out at Pence’s residence and watched as Pence and his wife Karen waved goodbye to the Trump motorcade. Later that day, Pence said no offer had been made or accepted and that Trump was giving the pick “very careful consideration.”
“This man is going to be a great president and you can really tell a lot about a person when you get to be around their family, and the character and caliber of his children is truly inspiring,” Pence said about the meeting. “I’ll be supporting his choice very strongly and we’ll just let the future take care of itself.”
With news reports suggesting the choice had come down to just two people – Pence, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich – Pence woke up the day before the announcement, took a bike ride with his wife, and announced a pre-scheduled investment in entrepreneurship before retreating to the governor’s mansion.
In the late afternoon, a black SUV quickly exited the residence, and hours later Pence touched down in New Jersey and was seen entering a Manhattan hotel.
But even then the choice wasn’t clear – Trump went on Fox News that night and said he hadn’t made his “final, final decision.”
That would come the next morning, when Trump tweeted: “I am pleased to announce that I have chosen Governor Mike Pence as my Vice Presidential running mate. News conference tomorrow at 11:00 A.M.”
On Saturday July 16, 13 days after that golf game, Trump appeared with Pence at an event in New York City.
“Indiana Gov. Mike Pence is my first choice. I also admire the fact that he fights for the people and he also is going to fight for you. He is a solid, solid person,” Trump said.
Later that day, Pence returned home to Indiana and looked out over the crowd.
“The last few days have been pretty overwhelming, but this is the best part. Karen and I will cherish this Hoosier homecoming for the rest of our lives. Thank you for being here today. There really is no place like home,” Pence said to cheers.