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Donald Trump spent his introduction of Mike Pence ricocheting from topic to topic

The Vice President-elect now is heading up Trump's transition efforts

Washington CNN —  

Despite Vice President-elect Mike Pence’s influential post shaping Donald Trump’s incoming administration, political observers don’t have to reach that far back to see moments where the Republican ticket’s two members were less in sync, including the Indiana governor’s 2016 campaign debut.

Saturday, July 16, was Pence’s big introduction to the nation as the man who would be just one heartbeat from taking control of the White House.

Mike Pence’s key role in building Team Trump

But when Trump took the stage, he talked for almost 30 minutes, on topics including the terror attack in Nice, France, fighting ISIS, trashing the #NeverTrump opposition and more.

As a national audience watched, Trump ricocheted from topic to topic, only briefly mentioning his running mate, almost as an afterthought at times.

“Indiana Gov. Mike Pence is my first choice,” Trump said, as he took a rare moment to look at his printed remarks. “I’ve admired the work that he’s done, especially in the state of Indiana. And I’m going to go over those accomplishments in just a couple of minutes.”

That bizarre courtship – and its blossoming into a strong, mutual admiration – is just one of many critical events analyzed in “Unprecedented: The Election that Changed Everything,” CNN’s upcoming book on the 2016 race that comes out December 6. It was written by CNN’s Thomas Lake with reporting from Jodi Enda, Susan Baer and CNN’s political team.

To say Trump was apprehensive about his decision would be understating it – sources told CNN he asked his advisers if he could reverse his decision after telling Pence he was it. News of Trump’s plane breaking down in Indianapolis during their slapdash courtship was parsed extensively.

In the middle of July, with just days until the Republican convention, Pence was just one man in a frenzied search by Trump. Newt Gingrich, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and others had all been under consideration. But one of the strangest moments was when dark horse pick Jeff Sessions flew in to Indianapolis at the last minute to meet with Trump, after it appeared likely Trump was going with Pence.

When Pence finally did speak, at his own introduction, he almost stumbled – something he very rarely does:

“He will rebuild the arsenal of democracy,” Pence said, “stand with our ene—” He then corrected himself. “Allies.”

If Trump was apprehensive at the start of their pairing, he was beyond confident a little over four months later, after they won the White House.

As Trump turned toward the somewhat surprising task of building an administration, he asked Pence to take over the job from Christie – one of Trump’s earliest and most loyal supporters. In the weeks after the election, Pence grew into a formal role directing the transition and coordinating strategy with Congress, a former House member himself.