WASHINGTON (JTA) — Donald Trump picked Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, a pro-Israel stalwart and conservative Christian, as his running mate.
Pence, 57, emerged quickly as a leader on pro-Israel issues during his 12 years in Congress from 2001 to 2013, where he rose rapidly in the GOP caucus leadership, chairing the Republican Conference in his penultimate term, 2011-2013.
Pence has continued his pro-Israel advocacy as Indiana governor, earlier this year signing one of the most robust state laws targeting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel.
Pence is known as a social conservative and Evangelical Christian. He opposes abortion rights as well as gay marriage. He signed a measure in March prohibiting abortions based on “sex, race, color, national origin, ancestry, or disability, including Down syndrome.” In 2015, he signed a bill that would have allowed businesses to refuse service to customers based on their sexual orientation. Following protest, he signed a revised version of the law that prohibited such discrimination.
He has notably said he dislikes negative campaigning, which may blunt some of the sharp edge of Trump’s rhetoric.
Speaking at a Republican Jewish Coalition event last year, Pence faced pointed questioning from Matthew Brooks, the RJC’s executive director, about a law the Indiana governor had signed recently allowing businesses to discriminate against LGBT people, which Brooks suggested could undermine the GOP’s efforts at attracting women and minorities.
Answering Brooks’ question at the RJC confab, Pence was apologetic. The law went too far he acknowledged, and it was revised.
“Ultimately we adopted a few reforms and made it clear this was a shield, not a sword,” he said.
Pence received warm applause.
In becoming Trump’s running mate, Pence beat out two higher profile names both considered pro-Israel as well — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.