POLITICS

Indiana Gov. Pence poised to abandon re-election bid as Trump nears VP decision

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence during the Innovation Showcase, Thursday, July 14, 2016, in Indianapolis.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence during the Innovation Showcase, Thursday, July 14, 2016, in Indianapolis.  (Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistribu)

The timing of the announcement itself is suggestive. 

Reports say that presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump is on the verge of picking his vice presidential running mate, with top contenders told to expect a decision as early as Thursday afternoon.

Indiana Governor Mike Pence, one of the people on Trump's short list, faces a Friday deadline — Pence is running for reelection as governor, but Indiana law prevents him from seeking two elected offices at the same time.

The deadline for him to withdraw from the governor's race is Friday.

The Associated Press cited a Republican familiar with Pence's thinking in reporting that the paperwork already has been drawn up for him to drop out of the governor's race. However, the documents have not been filed, according to the Republican, who insisted on anonymity because that person was not authorized to discuss Pence's plans.

Pence quickly exited a speaking event in Indianapolis Thursday morning without taking questions from reporters. His staff had not released details of any other planned appearances in the day.

Trump was making his final decision from California, where he is scheduled to attend a series of fundraisers at a distance from many of his closest advisers. His campaign chair, Paul Manafort, is currently in Cleveland, and none of his children are in the state with him.

All three of the finalists have had extensive conversations with Trump and his family in recent days.

Gingrich told the AP he was expecting to hear from Trump one way or the other sometime after 1 p.m. The former Georgia congressman praised Trump for running a "very fair, open process" and said he looked forward to learning the businessman's decision.

Gingrich later posted on Facebook that he would hold a live chat at 2 p.m. about the "vice presidential picks and the VP selection process."

Before being elected governor in 2013, Pence served for 12 years in the House of Representatives. He is considered an establishment Republican. "I have the highest, highest regard for Mike. He's a personal friend of ours and mine," House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters earlier this week.

When he was in Congress, Pence made immigration a priority, proposing in 2006 the Border Integrity and Immigration Reform Act, which aimed to increase border security and tightening laws against hiring undocumented workers while expanding the guest worker program.

Trump and his new running mate, whether Pence or one of the other finalists, will make their first appearance as a team Friday in New York. The timing is aimed at energizing Republicans ahead of next week's Republican convention in Cleveland.

Each of Trump's top contenders would add significant political experience to the GOP ticket. Trump, a political novice, has said for weeks that he wanted a running mate who could help him work with Congress.

Beyond their political backgrounds, the finalists bring different strengths to the ticket.

Pence, 57, is a steady, staunch conservative who would help calm nervous Republican wary of Trump's impulsive style. He served six terms in Congress before becoming Indiana governor. He also has deep ties to evangelical Christians and other conservatives, particularly after signing a law last year that critics said would have allowed businesses to deny service to gay people for religious reasons.

Trump took notice of Pence during the Indiana primary, noting that the governor had high praise for him despite endorsing one of his rivals.

Gingrich is a boisterous rabble-rouser who has spent decades in Washington and helped define the political battles of the 1990s. The 73-year-old would be the oldest candidate ever to become vice president.

Gingrich has been a steadfast Trump defender for months and has become a trusted adviser to the businessman.

So, too, has Christie. The New Jersey governor quickly endorsed Trump after ending his own presidential bid, stunning many of his supporters.

A former U.S. attorney, Christie, 53, is widely seen as one of his party's most talented retail politicians and has proven himself a biting attack dog on the trail. He's also become a valuable partner for Trump, joining him at events on the trail and taking on the important role of heading Trump's transition planning.

Based on reporting by the Associated Press.

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