WASHINGTON (AP) - After frenzied, final decision-making, Donald Trump announced Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate Friday, adding an experienced politician with deep Washington connections to the Republican presidential ticket.
Trump's pick was aimed in part at easing some Republicans' concerns about his temperament and lack of political experience. Pence spent 12 years in Congress before being elected governor and his demeanor is as calm as Trump's is fiery. While some conservatives are skeptical of Trump's political leanings, Pence has been a stalwart ally on social issues.
Yet Pence is largely unknown to many Americans. And his solidly conventional political background runs counter to Trump's anti-establishment mantra.
The two men scheduled a news conference for Saturday in New York to present themselves to America as the Republican team that will take on Hillary Clinton and her Democratic running mate in November. The duo will head to Cleveland next week for the Republican National Convention.
As Pence arrived for a private meeting with Trump Friday, he told reporters he "couldn't be more happy for the opportunity to run with and serve with the next president of the United States."
In choosing Pence, Trump appears to be looking past their numerous policy differences. The governor has been a longtime advocate of trade deals such as NAFTA and the Trans Pacific Partnership, both of which Trump aggressively opposes. Pence also has been critical of Trump's proposed temporary ban on foreign Muslims entering the United States, calling the idea "offensive and unconstitutional."
The reaction to the Pence choice from Republican officials was overwhelmingly positive — no small feat for Trump, given how polarizing he's been within his own party.
"It was a pick that clearly shows he is pivoting to the general election," said GOP chairman Reince Priebus, who was in the midst of an interview with The Associated Press when Trump announced his decision. "He is choosing a person who has the experience inside and outside Washington, Christian conservative, very different style that I think shows a lot of maturity."
Pence, a staunchly conservative 57-year-old, served six terms in Congress before being elected governor and could help Trump navigate Capitol Hill. He is well-regarded by evangelical Christians, particularly after signing a law that critics said would allow businesses to deny service to gay people for religious reasons.
Clinton's campaign moved quickly to paint him as the "most extreme pick in a generation."
"By picking Mike Pence as his running mate, Donald Trump has doubled down on some of his most disturbing beliefs by choosing an incredibly divisive and unpopular running mate," said John Podesta, Clinton's campaign chairman.
Clinton spent Friday holding meetings in Washington about her own vice presidential choice. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a favorite of liberals and one of the Democrats' most effective Trump critics, and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, were seen in separate cars that left Clinton's home. Housing Secretary Julian Castro also met with Clinton, according to a person familiar with the meeting who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the private gathering.
Trump spent weeks weighing vice presidential contenders, including former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and only zeroed in on Pence in recent days. In fact, the selection process appeared on the verge of sliding out of control in the final hours before the announcement, sparking speculation that Trump might be changing his mind.
Word that Pence would be joining the Republican ticket began trickling out in news reports Thursday before Trump had made a final decision or called Pence to offer him the job, according to a Republican familiar with the situation. Trump was in California for fundraisers, separated from his closest aides, and was fuming about leaks that he viewed as an attempt to pressure him into the decision.
Still, Trump called Pence Thursday afternoon to offer him the job and ask him to fly to New York for a Friday morning news conference. Pence accepted and boarded a private plane, along with his wife.
A few hours later, a huge truck barreled through a crowded holiday celebration in Nice, France, killing more than 80 people. With Pence sitting in a New York hotel, Trump decided to postpone the announcement.
The billionaire businessman then went on Fox News to say he had not yet settled on his "final, final" choice. He also held a midnight conference call with his top aides to discuss the situation, according to two people with knowledge of the call.
By Friday, plans were back on track.
Trump sent out a Twitter message saying he was pleased to announce Pence as his running mate. Moments later, one of Pence's aides filed paperwork with the Indiana Secretary of State's office withdrawing him from the governor's race.
Pence was up for re-election, and state law prohibits candidates from being on ballots in two contests. Trump's formal announcement came about an hour before Pence's noon Friday deadline for withdrawing.
Paul Manafort, Trump's campaign chairman, strongly rejected suggestions that the candidate considered changing his mind about Pence.
"Never waffled once he made his decision," Manafort wrote in an email.
Gingrich, one of the finalists for the vice presidential spot, said he was "very comfortable" with Trump's decision and praised Pence as someone who could help unite the party.
But as of Friday afternoon, Gingrich had yet to share his support with Trump himself. He told The Associated Press he had not received a call from Trump telling him he wasn't getting the job.
Hillary Clinton summoned at least three contenders vying to become her running mate to her Washington home on Friday as she closes in on a pick for vice president.
Clinton met separately with Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, according to a person familiar with the process. The person would speak only on condition of anonymity to discuss the private meeting.
Warren and Hickenlooper were seen in separate cars departing the former secretary of state's home Friday afternoon. It was unclear if other potential vice presidential candidates met with Clinton during the day. The meetings came a day after the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee campaigned alongside another potential vice presidential choice, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, in northern Virginia.
Clinton's meeting happened the same day Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump named Indiana Gov. Mike Pence to be on the GOP ticket. For Clinton, the Pence selection offered clarity on the composition of the Trump ticket and certainty of whom her eventual running mate will meet in a fall debate.
While the choice of a vice president has rarely had a dramatic impact on the outcome of a presidential race, the decision is among the most consequential for a presidential nominee and offers a window into the candidate's priorities and values.
A small group of Clinton campaign confidants have reviewed publicly available information about the potential contenders for more than a month. The in-person meetings come less than two weeks before Clinton formally accepts her party's nomination at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.
"On Friday, Secretary Clinton held a series of campaign-related meetings at her Washington home, including several about her vice presidential selection process," spokesman Brian Fallon said in a statement. Campaign chair John Podesta and vice chair Huma Abedin were among the Clinton aides who spent the day at her home.
Clinton has been assisted by veteran Democratic lawyer James Hamilton, who has overseen her selection process, along with longtime aide Cheryl Mills, who served as her chief of staff in the State Department.
Kaine, 58, a former mayor and governor from a key general-election battleground state, is considered to be a safe choice for Clinton, someone who could help her appeal to moderates who have been turned off by Trump's divisive rhetoric.
Warren, 67, spent about an hour at Clinton's home, her second visit in the past month. The senator is an economic populist and a favorite of liberals who would help Clinton connect with many of the progressives who backed Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders during the primaries. Warren would also help form an unprecedented all-female presidential ticket.
Hickenlooper, 64, is a relatively new name in the process and hails from another top battleground state. The second-term governor founded a brewpub in Denver in 1988 and later became the city's mayor and was instrumental in luring the 2008 Democratic National Convention to the Mile High City. He would bring a Western presence to the ticket and offer a small businessman's appeal to a candidate who frequently mentions her father's work as the owner of a small drapery business.
Castro is a 41-year-old former San Antonio mayor who delivered the keynote address at the 2012 Democratic National Convention. He was tapped by President Barack Obama two years later to lead the housing agency. If selected, he would be the first Latino on a presidential ticket.
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.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 15, 2016