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Indiana Governor Mike Pence is officially Donald Trump's running mate

As a conservative Christian from the midwest, the Indiana governor is about as conventional a choice as possible when it comes to vice presidential options.

by Olivia Becker
Jul 15 2016, 3:00pm

Photo by Rick D'Elia/EPA

After weeks of feverish speculation and a last minute postponement, Donald Trump finally announced his running mate will be Indiana Governor Mike Pence.

"I am pleased to announce that I have chosen Governor Mike Pence as my Vice Presidential running mate," Trump said on Twitter, announcing a news conference on Saturday morning to discuss the decision.

Trump was originally supposed to announce his vice presidential pick at a news conference on Friday at 11 am, but he delayed it after the attack in Nice, France, Thursday evening that killed at least 84 of people.

The announcement was not altogether a surprise. Sources close to the Trump campaign began leaking to the press last week that the field had narrowed to three options, and on Thursday it came out that Pence was the likely choice. His campaign continued to toy with the public until the last minute, with Trump hinting that he had not yet made his "final, final decision" as recently as Thursday night.

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If you're struggling to put a face to Pence's name, you're not alone. He is about as conventional a choice as possible when it comes to vice presidential options. Pence's favorite description of himself is that he's a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican — in that order. Despite serving in the House of Representatives for 12 years before becoming governor, Pence is still somewhat of an unknown entity compared to Newt Gingrich or Chris Christie, the other two candidates Trump was considering.

Even though Pence isn't exactly exotic, he's still seen as an appealing VP candidate for several reasons — mostly because he's everything Trump is not.

First, as a deeply devout Christian, Pence attracts voters from the GOP's evangelical religious base who have not exactly been thrilled with the current nominee. Coming from Indiana, he can help deliver battleground states in the middle of the country and his Midwestern politeness helps to soften Trump's bombastic way with words.

Pence is also one of the most ideologically conservative options Trump was considering. When he was a congressman, Pence was one of the few Republicans to vote against President George W. Bush's No Child Left Behind policy, and he also opposed Medicare expansion which earned him praise from hardliners in his party.

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Pence is staunchly conservative on social issues too, which balances out Trump, who has praised Planned Parenthood and supports gay marriage. Trump has struggled to gain favor with this more conservative, grassroots wing of the party which he needs in order to consolidate support in time for November.

Hillary Clinton issued a statement mere minutes after Trump's tweet, calling Pence "the most extreme VP pick in a generation." The statement slammed Pence for his record of supporting anti-LGBT and anti-abortion legislation, in addition to being one of "earliest advocates for the Tea Party.

But Pence's differences with Trump are not all good. He endorsed Ted Cruz in the primary race and has been on the record criticizing many of Trump's proposals. Last December, Pence tweeted that "calls to ban Muslims from entering the US are offensive and unconstitutional," a clear jab at Trump's controversial proposal. He also argued in an op-ed from 15 years ago that, "despite the hysteria from the political class and the media, smoking doesn't kill."

Follow Olivia Becker on Twitter: @OliviaLbecker