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Trump taps anti-gay Indiana governor as running-mate

Donald Trump told Republican officials he picked Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his vice presidential running mate, a Republican source said.

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee is to announce his choice on Friday at 11 a.m. in Manhattan.

Trump told national Republican officials that he had settled on Pence, according to the Republican source, who is familiar with the campaign's operations. Sources had told Reuters earlier that Trump had been leaning toward Pence but cautioned that he could still change his mind.

Trump is to be formally nominated as the party's candidate for the Nov. 8 election at the Republican National Convention next week in Cleveland. Traditionally, the vice presidential choice is used to build enthusiasm among party loyalists.

Trump's choice of running mate is seen as critical because his defeat of 16 rivals in the Republican primary race left the party divided and some party leaders are still uneasy about some of his campaign positions, and his style.

Roll Call, which first reported the news, said Trump was reportedly impressed with Pence's calm demeanor, his experience on Capitol Hill and as a governor, and Pence's potential to assist in governing if Trump wins in November. Trump, a New York businessman, has never held elected office.

Trump had also considered former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, 73, and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, 53, as finalists.

Gingrich told an ABC News correspondent he would not be surprised if Trump chose Pence.

Pence, 57, a former congressman, is seen as a safe choice, not too flash and popular among conservatives. He made a national reputation for himself with his aggressive defense of legislation allowing business owners to use their religious beliefs to discriminate against gay people. His position sparked a national boycott of his state.

Pence also has strong ties to billionaire donors Charles and David Koch, including current and former staff members who have worked for them.

Pence is to the right of Trump on other issues, signing restrictive abortion legislation and pushing to defund the Planned Parenthood women's health care organization. Trump has said he opposes abortion, but his views have been inconsistent, and he has said Planned Parenthood provides some valuable services.

TESTING CHEMISTRY

Pence and Trump met on Wednesday at the governor's residence in Indianapolis. They were joined by members of Trump's family.

Pence had backed a Trump rival, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, in April before the Indiana primary, but he praised Trump and said he would work on behalf of the eventual Republican nominee. Trump won Indiana anyway, prompting Cruz to drop out of the race to be the party's nominee.

Pence had considered running for president in 2016 before deciding to run for re-election as governor. Conservatives had urged him to seek the White House, but his anti-gay reputation hurt his national profile.

This year, he was the target of a mocking social media campaign by women outraged at a law he signed creating new restrictions on abortions. Feeling that the law invaded their privacy, women responded by calling Pence's office to describe their menstrual periods or tweeting similar messages.

Pence ran unsuccessfully for Congress twice before he won election to the House of Representatives in 2000, where he was chairman of the Republican Study Committee, a group of conservatives.

FLURRY OF MEETINGS

In what has been an unusually public process of making his choice of running mate, Trump, 70, sat down with both Pence and Gingrich separately in Indianapolis on Wednesday.

He also met with a fourth potential No. 2, U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, 69, of Alabama, who has been one of Trump's closest advisers.

Trump had dinner with Pence on Tuesday night after they appeared together at a rally. Joined by daughter Ivanka and sons Donald Jr. and Eric Trump, Trump also had breakfast with Pence and his wife, Karen, on Wednesday at the governor's residence in Indianapolis.

Trump adviser Ed Brookover told CNN that Trump "first and foremost" wants a running mate who he has good chemistry with and someone who can help him govern best.

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About Pence … a latecomer to the Trump bandwagon

Shortly before Indiana's Republican primary election in May, Mike Pence endorsed Trump's rival, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. Pence praised Trump at the time, but he compared Cruz to former Republican President Ronald Reagan and called him a "principled conservative."

Trump won the state anyway and Cruz dropped out of the Republican race. Trump and Pence have since met to discuss the running mate position.

WELL-CONNECTED WITH DONORS

Pence has strong ties to billionaire donors Charles and David Koch, including current and former staff members who have worked for them.

After saying he was primarily self-funding his campaign during the Republican primaries, Trump has been holding fundraisers during the general election, with support from the Republican National Committee. The New York businessman comes to the money race at a considerable disadvantage, however, compared with Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

A SOCIAL CONSERVATIVE

Pence sometimes describes himself as "a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order."

Pence in 2015 signed a so-called religious freedom law that opened the door to anti-gay discrimination. When he was in Congress, he opposed repealing the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy barring gay people from serving openly in the Armed Forces.

He also has pushed restrictive abortion regulations and has pushed for Congress to defund Planned Parenthood.

CRITIC OF WALL STREET BAILOUT

He was a vocal opponent of the 2008 Wall Street bailout.

In September 2008, Pence, then a U.S. House member, argued against the $700 billion package to stabilize the U.S. financial system, saying it would "nationalize almost every bad mortgage in America."

Pence also said the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation passed in 2010 would hurt jobs. Trump has vowed to dismantle Dodd-Frank, though he has not said how he would replace it.

OPPOSITION TO SYRIAN REFUGEES

Pence opposed allowing Syrian refugees coming to the United States to settle in Indiana.

In November 2015, the governor directed state agencies to suspend the resettlement of Syrians there. A family that was supposed to arrive in December was instead sent to Connecticut. A federal judge later ruled the order "clearly discriminates" against refugees from a particular country.

However, Pence tweeted disapproval in 2015 for Trump's idea to ban Muslims from entering the United States. Pence called it "offensive and unconstitutional."

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