It takes more than words for a politician to convince hardcore evangelists and far right conservatives that you support their agendas. You need performance, and Trump has obliged by choosing Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate: Pence is the darling of the conservative core of the Republican party. Never mind that Pence endorsed Ted Cruz (a chilling figure) over Trump during the primary and that Pence supports free trade, is opposed to building the “Trump wall” between the U.S. and Mexico, is extremely anti-abortion, against same-sex marriage, was for the Iraq war and led efforts to defund Planned Parenthood. Trump claims to be mostly on the other side of the fence where these matters are concerned, but apparently such small details can be disregarded when potential votes are at stake.
Almost two years ago, we wondered whether Trump is a Clinton plant– the ammunition he has now provided Clinton with by picking Pence again raises that question: Independents are neither hardcore liberals or conservatives and Pence has nothing to offer them. Trump has never had the steam to attract such voters on his own; he needed a fresh injection of untainted talent to push him over the edge in the general election. Without their vote, Trump is doomed because conservative voters never would vote for Clinton but Independent voters may have decided to vote for Trump. Under this operating scenario, Clinton only needs to stop a significant influx of Independents from supporting Trump to win: By picking Pence, Trump has made himself less attractive to Independent voters and helped Clinton. From this point, it is a question of intent or maybe fodder for a conspiracy theory.