It's official: Mike Pence is Donald Trump's running mate. Trump announced Friday in a tweet that he has selected the Indiana governor to run on the GOP ticket with him in the fall. [...] The announcement came after a day of confusion about whether published reports about his choice of Pence had been premature, with the candidate insisting late Thursday night that he had not made a "final, final decision."
Donald Trump talked with Time magazine the other day, and was asked about his impulsive decisions and erratic instincts, but the Republican presidential candidate waved off such concerns. "I'm a very stable person," he said. "I'm so stable you wouldn't believe it."
The rollout of his vice presidential nominee offers some proof to the contrary.
Consider the chain of events over the last 24 hours or so. First, Trump settled on Pence and scheduled an event for 11 a.m. (ET) Friday. Soon after, Trump became "irritated" by the media leaks and decided the deliberations would continue. After last night's attack in Nice, France, Trump impulsively announced that Friday's event would be postponed, out of respect for the victims, though he nevertheless attended a fundraiser and made multiple media appearances last night. Trump added that the "final, final" decision about his running had not yet been made.
After telling donors he'd make the formal announcement on Saturday, Trump instead decided to break the news on Twitter this morning -- right around the time of the postponed event. (Why Trump could make an announcement at 10:50 a.m., but not host an event at 11 a.m., is unclear.)
But remember, he's "so stable you wouldn't believe it." Perhaps he meant that literally, since it's so obviously difficult to believe.
As for the Indiana governor, regular readers know I've followed his career pretty closely for many years, and we'll have all kinds of detailed coverage as the campaign progresses, but on this first day, I think it's important to emphasize a foundational point: Mike Pence is almost certainly the most right-wing vice presidential nominee of the modern era.
About four years ago at this time, Nate Silver published an interesting analysis of Paul Ryan, who'd just been named to Mitt Romney's ticket. Nate wrote at the time, "Various statistical measures of Mr. Ryan peg him as being quite conservative. Based on his Congressional voting record, for instance, the statistical system DW-Nominate evaluates him as being roughly as conservative as Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota. By this measure, in fact, which rates members of the House and Senate throughout different time periods on a common ideology scale, Mr. Ryan is the most conservative Republican member of Congress to be picked for the vice-presidential slot since at least 1900."
Nate added a chart, highlighting the fact that Ryan's record put him slightly to the right of Dick Cheney, who was slightly to the right of Dan Quayle.
But before Pence became governor, he was a longtime member of Congress -- which means we can turn to the same DW-Nominate statistical system to get a better sense of the Indiana Republican's ideology. And the data shows puts Pence well to Ryan's right.
In the 107th Congress (Pence's first, covering 2001 and 2002), for example, out of 435 members of the U.S. House, Pence ranked #428 -- meaning that 427 members were to his left, putting the Hoosier on the far-right-wing fringe. The results were roughly the same in the 108th Congress and the 109th.
By the 110th Congress, Pence was at #432, putting him to the right of nearly everyone in the chamber. The results were roughly the same in the 111th Congress and the 112th.
Let's put this another way: during his congressional career, Pence wasn't just more conservative than Paul Ryan. His voting record also put him to the right of Michele Bachmann, Todd Akin, Steve King, and even Louie Gohmert. That's not an exaggeration. Bachmann, Akin, King, and Gohmert all had voting records less extreme than Mike Pence.
Indeed, the Indiana Republican developed a reputation on Capitol Hill as an ineffective extremist who, despite 12 years in Congress, was literally never the chief sponsor of a bill that passed into law.
Now, Donald Trump wants to put him one heartbeat from the presidency.